Type: Chordophones > Composites > Lutes > Spiked > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.321.7
Bayin: SÍ 絲 Silk.
Inventor: Wang Dianyu.
Region: Far East Asia.
Description: The Leiqin [in Chinese: 擂琴 or 擂琴 ; in Pinyin: léiqín, literal translation means “thundering instrument”] is also called leihu, which appeared during the 1920s. It was designed by a civilian artist named Wang Dianyu in imitation of another kind of musical instrument named zhuihu. He was born in a poor family in Shandong province.
History: When he was young, he went blind from smallpox. However, he showed diligence and talent in learning to perform many musical instruments including zhuihu. At the end of the 1920s, he made great changes to zhuihu. The shaft was lengthened. The length of the body was expanded, which was covered with the skin of boa. The new instrument became louder and the range was increased. In 1953, it was called “leiqin” formally.
At the end of the 1920s, he made great changes to the pre-existing zhuihu. The shaft was lengthened, and the sound box was expanded. Whose membrane was boa skin was then applied. The new instrument became louder, and the range was increased. In 1953, it was called “leiqin” formally.
Playing Techniques: The performers should sit while playing. The canister is put on the left leg, with the left hand pressing the strings and a bow in the right hand plucking. In most cases, the performer uses his or her index finger and the third finger to press the strings. The Leiqin has a wide range, a high volume and a soft tone.
It can perform solo, concert and in ensemble. Additionally, it can produce sound in imitation of human voices, arias of the Chinese operas, calling of the animals and the sound effect of the orchestral and percussion instruments such as the urhien, gong, drum and so on.
Construction: The instrument is assembled of five parts. The shaft, head and tuning page are made of hardwood. The head is like a shovel. The surface of the tuning page is carved. The canister is made of copperplate. The bow is longer than that of the urhien. There are two specifications of leiqin. The longer instrument measures at 110 cm at the length of the neck from sound body to head-stock. While the the shorter sized leiqin is measured at 90 cm in length.
Usually, the instrument is tuned according to the preferences of the performers. There may be three and half octaves within the range. The range of the small leiqin is the same as the big one, which is one octave higher than the latter.
Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Leiqin article / wayback machine ;