Type: Plucked Lute > Chordophone.
Region: China > Far East Asia.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.322.
Description: The yueqin or yue qin (in Chinese; 月琴, in Pinyin yuèqín). Formerly romanized as yüeh-ch‘in and or “moon guitar”, “moon zither”, gekkin, lagin or la-ch’in. It is a traditional Chinese stringed musical instrument. According to tradition, the instrument was invented in China during the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD). The ruan, another Chinese instrument, is the ancestor of the yueqin. The name yueqin once applied to all instruments with a moon-shaped soundboard, including the ruan; however, "yueqin" now applies to a separate category than the ruan family. In China the yueqin has four strings, that are tuned in two courses D and A (from low to high). Yueqin are used for Beijing opera, however, have two single strings, only one of which is actually used, the lower string being there purely for sympathetic resonance. In Beijing opera, the player uses a small wood dowel instead of a plectrum to perform, and only plays in first position; this requires the performer to use octave displacement in order to play all the pitches within a given melody.
Construction: The strings on the traditional form of the instrument were made of silk (although nylon is generally used today) and plucked with a rather long, sharp plectrum, which is sometimes attached to the instrument with a piece of cord. There is no sound-hole, but inside the sound box are one or more strands of wire attached only at one end, so that they vibrate, giving the instrument a particular timbre and resonance. There is no bridge or saddle; the strings are simply attached to the anchor at the base of the instrument. Modern forms of yueqin of the instrument have three or four strings made of steel (or steel-wrapped nylon), each tuned to a different pitch. The strings are attached to the anchor by looping them through their own end-loops.