Type: Chordophones > Composites > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Region: Far East Asia.
Description: The yueqin or yue qin [in Chinese: 月琴; in Pinyin; yuèqín], formerly romanized as yüeh-ch‘in, gekkin, wolgeum, or la-ch‘in, is a traditional Chinese string instrument.
Origins: According to tradition the instrument was invented in China during during the 3rd to 5th century Jin Dynasty. The name yueqin once applied to all instruments with a circular-shaped body. Now the name yueqin applies to separate category from the ruan family.
Use In Opera: It is an important instrument in the Peking opera orchestra, often taking the role of main melodic instrument in lieu of the bowed string section. The frets on all Chinese lutes are high so that the fingers never touch the actual body — distinctively different from western fretted instruments. This allows for a greater control over timbre and intonation than their western counterparts, but makes chordal playing more difficult.
Construction: The yueqin has a short fretted neck with up to nine glued raised bamboo frets. It has a short neck four strings tuned in courses of two [each pair of strings is tuned to a single pitch], generally tuned to the interval of a perfect fifth. Occasionally, the body of the yueqin may be octagonal in shape.
Citations: Bibliography: Websites: