Asia - Plucked Strings - History


North East Asia



Guqin chine

The Guquin is a traditional Chinese plucked string musical instrument from the zither family (中華 絃樂 噐).

The Guqin et son musique" was inscribed by UNESCO in 2008 on the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity (originally proclaimed in 2003).

It has been played since ancient times, and was traditionally appreciated and considered by scholars to be a refined instrument of great subtlety. Highlighted by the quote "A gentleman does not separate from his qin or from his (in) without good reason" (Lijing), he is also associated with the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius.

The Chinese sometimes refer to the guqin as "the father of Chinese music" or "the instrument of the wise".

The guqin is a soft-sounding instrument with a range of four octaves.

Its open strings are tuned in the bass register and its lowest degree is two octaves below the C, the same lowest note as the cello.

The sound is produced by plucking the strings, empty, by pressing the key or by using harmonics.

The use of the glissando gives it a sound reminiscent of the pizzicato of the cello, the fretless double bass or the slide guitar.

The instrument is capable of a large number of harmonics, 91 of which are commonly used and indicated by dots on the key.

Traditionally the guqin originally had five strings, but other qins with 10 or more have been found. Its modern form was standardized two millennia ago.



Guzheng chine

The Guzheng is a traditional Chinese plucked string musical instrument from the zither family on the table, the oldest traces of which date from the 3rd century BCE. Gǔ means ancient and zhēng means zither.

The oldest traces of this instrument in China are during the Spring and Autumn Period (-771 - ~ -481 / -453), more precisely in the Jianzhuke shu

It usually has 21 strings placed on 21 movable bridges used to tune the instrument; the number of strings differs according to the type of zheng (some have more than thirty strings).

In the most common case (21 strings), the instrument is tuned according to a pentatonic scale, frequently in D major (D - E - F # - A - B).

The range of the instrument is four octaves (generally from D1 to D5). The instrument often has four strings from the green, to help the player locate himself visually.

While the right hand plucks the strings with a plectrum (a kind of special adhesive tape allows the plectra to be held with the fingers), the left hand touches the strings in order to produce not only the desired height, but also a multitude of stamps.



Konghou chine

The Konghou is an ancient Chinese harp, also known as a kanhou, extinct since the time of the Ming Dynasty. It reappeared, in a significantly different form in the 10th century very discreetly.

The main distinguishing feature of modern konghou compared to the western harp is the strings folded in half, allowing experienced musicians to use advanced playing techniques such as vibrato.

The two rows of strings also facilitate the creation of fast rhythms or lines.

The konghou was used to play yayue (court music) in the kingdom of Chu. During the Han Dynasty (-206 - 220), konghou was used in qingshangyue (genre music).

Ahet the beginning of the Sui Dynasty (581 - 618), the konghou was also used in the yanyue (banquet music).

It was during the Sui and Tang dynasties that the game of konghou was most widespread. It was generally played in ritual ceremonies but gradually won over the people.

Among the players in konghou is Cui Junzhi.



Liuqin chine

The Luiqin is a short-necked Chinese lute very similar to the pipa, but in a soprano version because it is much smaller.

There are several variants depending on whether the piriform (flattened) sound box is pierced with gills covered or not with rosettes, depending on whether the head of the peg is decorated with such and such a sculpture and depending on whether the back is engraved or not.

The neck is indistinguishable from the sound box which has a large number of frets on the wooden soundboard. It is extended by a large curved peg with four large pegs. There are four silk or metal strings.

It is usually tuned in G-D-G-D although the tuning of the violin or the mandolin can be used (G-D-A-E). Unlike pipa, the strings are plucked with a plectrum (not with bare fingers or with tabs).



Qinqin chine

The Quinqin is a Chinese lute with a very long handle.

The sound box can be round with a wooden soundboard and a modern peg.

The sound box can be round with a snakeskin soundboard and a modern peg.

The sound box can be hexagonal with rounded sides with a traditional dowel with large ankles.

The neck is long and fretted but does not extend over the soundboard. There are four silk or metal strings.

It is common to find it in Taiwan in a modified and less expensive form, while the appearance of the sanshin found in Okinawa is closer to that of the ancient Sanxian.

The parentage between the instruments of south-eastern China, Taiwan and the Okinawa archipelago is clearly visible by the typical local snake skin patterns, while the shamisen has undergone significant modifications compared to these. to get closer to Japanese aesthetic perception.



Ruan chinois

The Ruan also called luai, shao luai, qin pipa, ruanxian or yüan-hsien is a long-necked Chinese lute also called guitar-moon.

It is an instrument that is found throughout Southeast Asia: dan nguyet (Vietnam), wol gum (Korea), genkan (Japan) ...

The low version has only three strings and gills in the shape of a quarter of a moon.

The meihuaruan has a rounded hexagonal sound box, with a very curved traditional peg with five large pegs and five silk strings.

There are a dozen variations depending on the size (soprano, tenor, bass), depending on whether or not there are gills, depending on the type of frets and the type of peg.

Soprano: chord: G3-D4-G4-D5 Alto: chord: D3-A3-D4-A4 Tenor: chord: G2-D3-G3-D4 Bass: chord: D2-A2-D3-A3 Double bass: chord: G1- D2-G2-D3

The sound box is round and flat, usually pierced by two gills near the long handle which extends on the wooden soundboard.

Tt is extended by a large curved peg with four large pegs.

There are four silk or metal strings, attached not to the bridge, but to the bottom of the body.



Sanxian chine

The Sanxian is a Chinese plucked string instrument with a long handle, the rectangular resonator of which is covered with snakeskin.

A four-string version has also existed since the end of the 10th century. Very old, it is at the origin of the Japanese shamisen.

The almost oval sound box is covered with snake skin. The very long handle has a long non-fretted touch extended from a traditional peg to three large ankles.

There are three silk cords attached to the bottom of the body.

There are versions in the octagonal or almost square shape, but they are rare.



Shuangqing chine

The  Shuangqin is a Chinese lute with a very long and very thin handle, quite close to the Japanese shamisen.

There are two variants of the hexagonal sound box but with a soundboard either in cat or dog skin or in imitation snake.

The peg is traditional with four large pegs. The neck is long and fretted and does not extend over the soundboard.

There are four silk or metal strings.



Yuekin chine

The Yueqin eis a short-necked Chinese lute also called moon guitar.

Gut-komm" is the Cantonese pronunciation of the Chinese four-string lute yueqin according to rare sources of the 19th century.

The name means "string instrument [shaped] by the moon".

We would transcribe more properly yut-komm.

The sound box is round like the full moon or the sound box is octagonal.

The neck is short and fretted; these extend on the wooden soundboard.

It is extended by a large traditional curved peg with four large pegs. There are four silk strings attached to the bridge.

South Korea

Coree du sud

Gayageum coree

The Gayageum is a traditional Korean musical instrument from the zither family, comprising twelve strings of silk and a structure and sound box made of paulownia wood.

The oldest traces date back to the 6th century, when the Chinese chan monks brought Buddhism, writing and part of Chinese culture to Korea.

It is probably the best known of the Korean musical instruments. Its use was developed by Ureuk, musician at the court of Gaya).

It is a close cousin of Chinese guzheng, Japanese koto or Kazakh zhetygen.

The paulownia sound box is 160 cm long, 30 cm wide and 10 cm high.

The sides are sometimes in walnut. It has 12 strings of silk, but recent instruments can have up to 25 nylon strings, passing on high removable bridges.

It is played seated on the ground, one side of the instrument placed on the player's legs and the other on the ground.

One hand plucks the strings with your fingers to vibrate the string, while the fingers of the other hand press on the strings to obtain the desired pitch.

It is also possible to move the movable easels to modify the pitch of the note for each string.



Biwa japon


The Biwa is a traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument.
It is a short-necked lute derived from the Chinese pipa, of which it has kept the name, and itself probably derived from the Persian barbat.

The oldest preserved instruments date from the 8th century, when Chinese culture brought to Japan.

The resemblance of the shape of the largest lake in Japan with this instrument inspired the name of this lake, Lake Biwa.

It is the instrument of the goddess Benten.

The body is entirely cut from a single block of hard, piriform wood (very rare, coming from a single mountain in Japan) split in half to be hollowed out, then glued.

The neck is only an extension of the body and has four or five irremovable frets two or three centimeters high, cut so that the silk strings emit a vibration called sawari (like for the shamisen, recalling the sounds of the Indian sitar ) on contact with them.

The head is almost at right angles as for the oud, with imposing traditional ankles.

The bridge is imposing and massive. Traditionally pieces of ivory or silver are encrusted on the soundboard.

The body, the handle, and the head are three pieces of wood that fit together (like other Japanese instruments, including the shamisen).

The very large fan-shaped plectrum (bachi), made of very hard wood, the essence of which is even rarer, is held in the hand.

It has not only a melodic but also a rhythmic role since it can vibrate several strings successively.

In addition, it has a percussive function, because it is very often violently and sonically pressed against the soundboard, which produces a very dry slammed sound.

It can also be rubbed against the strings and thus produce squeal effects integrated into the music.

The pressure exerted on the strings with the fingers of the left hand makes it possible to obtain a large palette of intervals, and is not limited to the notes corresponding to the four or five frets per string.



Koto japon

The Koto is a plucked string musical instrument used in traditional Japanese music, especially in kabuki and bunraku.

It was introduced to Japan between the 7th and 8th centuries and was played mainly at the Imperial Court; the use is then democratized.

The koto is a long zither (in the shape of a lurking dragon), measuring about 1.80 m long and having 13 cords.

The body is traditionally made of hollowed-out paulownia wood, and the removable high trestles are made of ivory.

Its strings are made of silk thread which is pinched with ivory scrapers.

The koto produces a lyrical sound, comparable to that of a harp, which may explain the often-encountered term "Japanese harp".

It is found in traditional Japanese songs such as "Sakura" or "Rokudan".

Among the musicians representative of the koto, we find first of all Yatsuhashi Kengyō (1614-1685); then Michio Miyagi (1894-1956, pronounced Miyagui) and Fumiko Yonekawa, born in 1895 and who had, in 1983, 185,000 hours of practice. Miyagi developed koto at the beginning of the 10th century, importing this musical language in Europe. 



Shamisen japon

The Shamisen "Three scented strings") is a traditional plucked musical instrument used in Japanese music. It is a long handle lute with a smooth touch.

The shamisen is a lute measuring 110 to 140 cm, whose square sound box is traditionally constructed of sandalwood and covered with cat or dog skin1.

With the exception of the shamisen of the island of Okinawa which is traditionally covered with snake skin and is called sanshinou jabisen.

The hide table means that the shamisen is sometimes given the name of "Japanese banjo".

The neck is long and thin, without frets. It has three strings (hence the name of the instrument, which literally means "three strings of taste") of silk or nylon.

We play the shamisen kneeling on a zabuton by plucking the strings using a large ivory plectrum (bāshô or bachi).

Traditional shamisen music interspersed in the middle of the melody with long silences which give even more force to the notes.

It is used with voices in folk songs and as a solo or ensemble instrument (as in kabuki orchestras).

It became the instrument of choice for geishas.



Tonkori japon

The Tonkori is a musical instrument from the culture of the Ainu people, an indigenous minority ethnic group in Japan.

A kind of zither, the tonkori is a witness to the unique traditions of the Ainu people.

A trunk is hollowed out to compose the body of the instrument, above which is attached a piece of flat wood. It measures between 70 and 150 cm long and approximately 15 cm wide.

We usually attach 5 cords to it, but we can see it less often with either 3 or 6 cords fixed on large friction pins.

To compose the body, we generally use Sakhalin spruce, Japanese yew or Japanese magnolia with white bark… For strings, these are fibers from a variety of nettles (ezoirakusa, Latin name: Urtica platyphylla) which are tightly twisted into a single thread, or tendons of whales, deer or reindeer. The soundboard is decorated.

The tonkori is worn and played by plucking the strings with both hands, but taking care not to put your fingers on the strings. It’s a complex art that requires great dexterity



Altai yatga mongolie

The Altaï yatga is a plucked string instrument used in Mongolian music.

It has a shape quite similar to a small harp, often with horns.

It takes its name from the Altai where it was rediscovered1.

It is close to the Kazakh adyrna.



Chanza mongolie

The Chanza is a Plucked String Instrument used in regions of Mongolian culture, including at least Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, Buryatia, Tuva.

It is composed of a recognition box, generally covered with reptile skin, of a handle whose end, ends, as for the morin khuur or the igil, by a shape of horse head, and comprises three ropes.

It recalls in its sound the sound of Sanxian or sanshin, both also comprising snake skins, or even shamisen (or three scented strings), relatively similar and probably inspired by chanza.



Yatga mongolie

The Yatga is a plucked string instrument from the zither family used in Mongolian music. It is close to Chinese guzheng, Korean gayageum or Japanese koto or Vietnamese dan tranh.

It also resembles in some aspects the most rudimentary zhetygen of Kazakh music, close to the ancient forms of the yatga.

The strings were formerly made of goose gut, today they are made of silk, steel, or horsehair

There were around 10 strings in the old versions, modern versions exist with 13 to 21, even 24 strings.

The wooden crate, long and convex, there is a movable bridge per string.

The instrument is tuned for the pentatonic playing of traditional Mongolian music.

It can be placed on the floor, on the knees or on an easel when the musician plays it



Dranyen tibet

The Dranyen is a monoxyl tibetan lute whose size can vary between 60 cm and 1.20 m long.

The sugudu is a version with four strings, the ankles of which are placed on the same side of the handle.

The round wooden sound box is covered with a thick skin (sometimes fish) often tinted green or blue green.

The long handle has a smooth, non-fretted touch.

The dowel's butt represents a dragon or more often a horse's head.

The back of the box is sometimes decorated with polychrome floral or geometric carved patterns, even the Buddhist calendar with the different animals that compose it.

It has three double strings - tuned on the ground (G D A) - which are traditionally made in guts, but which, currently, are gradually replaced by a two-tone blue and white nylon, or red and white. The strings are stretched by six turned wooden pegs.

The pick, made of bone or plastic, responsible for vibrating the strings, is attached to the heel of the instrument with a cord so as not to lose it.


West Asia 



Chang iran

The Chang is an ancient musical instrument that has existed for millennia in Iran, but disappeared about three centuries ago.

It is an angular harp that followed an arched harp inherited from Sumer. She is a cousin of the Turkish çeng harp.

There are three versions, a horizontal with 9 strings, an angular vertical with 20 or 30 strings and an arched vertical with 9 strings.

The strings were secured with leather rings, then later with dowels.



Cura ba lama iran

The Cura-bağlama is a lute with long handle, encountered in Iran, Iraq, the Caucasus, Crimea (among the Tatars), Turkey, Greece.

The word, of Persian origin, has several meanings in Turkish, which can be confusing: it can designate all kinds of musical instruments, a particular family of plucked string instruments (object of this article), or the bağlama (short or long handle), the most common instrument in this family, as well as with the tamboor.

It is made up of a piriform soundboard made of glued laminated wood, and a long handle fitted with frets (most often composed of nylon thread ties acting as frets).

It is provided with three choirs of strings which are played with a plectrum (in Turkish tezene or mızrap).

The cura-bağlama makes it possible to play all the semitones of a chromatic scale, as well as certain quarter-tones present in the Arab makams (modes).

However, since not all quarter tones are present, some modes cannot be played in certain tones unless the frets are moved.

Cura-bağlama is used exclusively in Turkish popular music, Turkish classical music using the Ottoman tanbur.

The bağlama is a transposing instrument, most often in Eb or E: the note considered by convention as a really sounds like a C or a C #.



Dotar iran

The  Dotâr ("Two strings" in Persian) is a traditional long handle lute found in Central Asia and Iran.

Its origin is probably the tambur du Khorassan described by Al-Farabi (10th century) in his essay Kitab Al Musiqi Al Kabir (Book of great music).

Long reserved for nomads and bakhshi bards, it became in the 19th century an acceptable instrument in the learned music of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uyghurs

There are also instruments with similar but very different names, in India and Bangladesh, closer to the rabab or sarod, and in Afghanistan, closer to the Indian sitar.

There are two varieties of dotâr, with a small angular sound box, cut from a solid block of mulberry and with a rounded and rounded sound box, in glued laminated beech, walnut or mulberry (fairly close to the Iranian setar or saz Turkish).

To this is added a very long and thin handle (in pear, walnut or apricot).

In addition, there is a light soundboard in beech or murier, pierced with very small barely visible gills. The 2 strings (metal, silk or nylon), one acute and the other grave (octave or fifth), rest on a very small bridge.

They are granted by means of small pegs at the end of the handle.

There are about fifteen gut frets, non-removable, and placed according to a chromatic scale. The handle is often decorated with marquetry or bone appliques.

The musician holds the instrument against him and rarely uses a plectrum (mezrap) preferring to play with his fingers.

The technique is very complex and recalls that of the flamenco guitar of which it is perhaps a source. Indeed, the player manages to play a very rapid succession of notes, not only by a movement of the hand or a finger, but also by performing upward and downward reels of the fingers of the right hand, the pulps, well flat fan, on the strings, while applying rhythmic effects.



 Citole moyen orient

The Citole is an archaic plucked string instrument used until the 14th century, ancestor of the cister.

It comes from instruments from Iran probably introduced into the Iberian Peninsula between the 8th and 15th centuries by the Arab-Berbers of Al-Andalus.

It later became a fully-fledged medieval European instrument.

In various forms, the citole generally has four metal or gut strings, attached to a very short handle.

He is considered to be the ancestor of the Portuguese guitarist.



Qanun iran

The Tanûn is a plucked string instrument from the zither family on the table, very widespread in the countries of the Middle East as well as in Greece, Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkestanchinois.

It should not be confused with the santour which is an instrument with strings struck.

The ancient history of qanûn is not well known. It is likely that he is descended from the old harp.

Some attribute it to the philosopher Al-Farabi at the end of the 9th century, but no writing confirms this thesis.

Others attribute it to a Greek or Assyrian origin.

In instrumental Byzantine music, that is to say the secular scholarly music of the Eastern Roman Empire (also called the Byzantine Empire), the qanûn already existed in a form called "psaltirio" in Greek.

The earliest mention of this instrument in Arabic literature is found in the tales of Arabian Nights - of Persian origin - in the 10th century.

In Morocco and Iran, this modern qanûn dates back to the end of the 18th century and resulted from the evolution of the instrument already used in the Byzantine Empire, in countries under Ottoman influence.

The qanûn then only allowed a monophonic play with the right hand.

The left hand had to press on the strings to change the length of the plucked part and thus allow the modulations.



Setar iran

The  Setâr is an Iranian musical instrument whose name means "three strings" in Persian.

It is a member of the long-necked lute family. Its origin is in Persia at the time of the expansion of Islam. He is a direct descendant of the tambûr, around 3,000 years old, and a direct relative of the Indian sitar.

The setâr consists of a rounded sound box composed of thin strips of wood (beech or mulberry) laminated and glued.

The beech soundboard is very thin and pierced with very small gills.

The handle, long and fine, is in fruit or walnut and the four ankles in boxwood.

The instrument has 25 to 27 frets arranged irregularly for unsophisticated eyes, allowing to play quarter tones.

Two and a half centuries ago, a fourth string was added, very often tuned to the upper octave of the lower string to give it more breadth.

It is generally granted as follows: C3 - G2 - C3 - C2. The setâr register is two and a half octaves. Despite its very small footprint, it is fairly audible.

With the right hand resting on the soundboard, only the index finger plucks the strings back and forth, allowing great virtuosity and offering rich and refined tones.

The last two strings playing the role of rhythmic drone. You can change the chord for certain melodies.

It was always intended to play the repertoire of Iranian music, the radif.

It is popular and women also like to play this very tenuous instrument. Generally, it is rather played in a meditative or intimate setting.

There is a setâr method designed by Hossein Alizadeh.



Sitar iran

The Sitar is a plucked string musical instrument. It is a lute with long handle, symbol of Hindustani music.

The legend attributes its creation to Amir Kushro in the 14th century. This simple three-string version, derived from the Persian tambur, has been modified over the centuries.

In the 18th century, a fourth string was added, then in the 19th century, the tarafs, sympathetic strings, and the imposing form, to play in the durbar, the royal courts.

It is the main instrument of Khyal, classical Hindustani music from North India. In the late 1960s, the instrument became popular in pop music.

Composed of a hemispherical sound box in gourd (tumba) and a large hollow handle (cut in tun or teak), provided with curved and removable silver frets, on the back of which is fixed a small wooden resonator , the sitar is a complex lute.

Multiple influences added to it the strings of rhythmic drones cikârî, as on the bîn, then sympathetic strings.

It has two flat easels, allowing the characteristic buzz (jawari) of Indian instruments.

The main one, standing, is located above the other and carries the playing and drone strings, while the smaller one carries the sympathetic strings.

Finally, it is a highly decorated instrument, with bone or ivory sconces on the neck, and bas-reliefs on the resonators.


South Asia 



Benju inde

The Benju is an Indian plucked string instrument from the family of zither (and not Indian lutes (sitars)) and resembling a Vosges spruce or a dulcimer. It is also found in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Japan.

Its rectangular sound box with a circular hole is attached to a cover which makes the unit look like a small suitcase often equipped with a handle for its transport.

The strings, stretched over a fretted key stuck in extra thickness on the resonance table, are of very fine gauge.

They are fixed with spikes at the tailpiece and are tuned using metal dowels.

There are five chanterelles and a drone, usually tuned to the low octave or the fifth of the chanterelles.

We put the strings in vibration using a pick or plectrum, and we vary the pitch of the notes by shortening them using typewriter keys (or keyboard), on which appear only numbers, which return to their original place thanks to small springs when they are released.

This instrument gives by clicks due to the springs and its strange appearance an impression of brilliant DIY.

It is a rare instrument that is found around a street and whose children love it.

The very tenuous sound is often amplified electrically. Only folk or film music is played there.



Sarod inde

The Sarod is a plucked string musical instrument that appeared in the 19th century in northern India and is used in classical Indian music. It is a lutehybrid from the rabhr dhrupad, an ancient Indian instrument and the Afghan rabab.

The name derives perhaps from the Persian sarûd (to sing) because many singers were accompanied thus.

The large (110 cm) and heavy body of the sarod is cut from solid teak wood cut and hollowed out, then glued.

The handle is hollow. The hemispherical sound box is covered by a glued goat skin. A large (standing) bone easel with holes and sillets rests there, held at the base by two cords.

The fingerboard is covered by a smooth and shiny metal plate, wide towards the table and narrow towards the peg.

There is no fret or hearing, but a removable bronze (or wooden) resonator (tumbâ) is placed at the back of the neck.

There are two kinds of sarod; although similar names, designating master musicians, these instruments differ in the way they are strung (there are also small versions for children).

Alauddin Khan sarod: This version, the most recent (late 19th century), was developed by Allauddin Khan.

This sarod has eight main pegs, including four for the melodic play and four for the rhythmic play (on a small easel apart).

It also has two chikari strings, for fast rhythm.

Finally it has fifteen sympathetic strings to increase the resonance of the instrument.

A total of 25 metallic strings (steel and bronze).

Ghulam Ali Khan sarod: This version, the oldest (19th century) and closest to the Afghan rabab, was invented and transmitted by Ghulam Ali Khan to his grandson Haafiz Ali Khan.

This sarod has only six main pegs, including four for playing, plus the chikari and eleven sympathetic strings, for a total of 19 strings.

The instrument is slightly shorter and lighter, without a rear resonator.



Surbahar inde

The Surbahar is a musical instrument from northern India.

Used in Hindustani music, it is a bass sitar in a way, rarely played.

The surbahar is an old instrument derived from the vînâ and the tambûr.

It looks like the sitar, but is even larger. Its handle is much wider.

Its head ends with a sculpture of swan or peacock. And its sound box is a flattened calabash, not a spherical one.

The strings are thicker and the sound is lower.

We play it, sitting cross-legged on the ground, exclusively the râgas in the dhrupad style, accompanied by the pakhâwaj.

We use two mezrabs (index and middle finger) which come and go alternately on the strings (as in the bass).

Given the specially studied neck, you can pull a string to inflect a note not only on a fifth, but on an entire octave.

This operation however requires practice due to the resistance of the rope.



Swarmandal inde

The Swarmandal is an Indian musical instrument with plucked strings. It is a citharedont which exclusively accompany the singers.

Although very old in the texts, the instrument is today only the simple replica of the Austrian cithares perhaps brought like the harmonium or the violin by the English colonists or the missionaries.

It usually has 20 or 40 strings and a central rosette.

Like the tampura, it plays the role of modal support: the game consists of touching the strings in a regular movement without trying to make a melody, the strings being tuned according to the raga played.



Vina inde

The Vinâ is a term designating two families of very different Indian string instruments: the rudra vînâ in the north of India, the sarasvati vînâ, in the south.

The oldest form, whose sources are attested from the 2nd century BC. In the sculpture (although mentioned in Vedic writings for 3000 years), is a zither on a stick, without fret, with two resonators, called vînâ or bîn.

The vina is considered a divine instrument played by the goddess Sarasvati, who is generally represented with one or the other of its forms.

It consists of a piece of bamboo 8 cm in diameter and 125 cm long, under which are fixed two large spherical resonators (thumba) (50 to 70 cm in diameter) made of dried squash.

It has 24 wooden frets (parda), very high, allowing to press and pull on the strings in order to obtain microtonal variations and glissandi effects.

It has 7 to 9 strings, including 3 or 4 passing over the frets for the melodic play, 2 or 3 laterally for the rhythmic play (chikari) and a drone (laraj).

The vînâ is played either horizontally on the left knee, or vertically on the left shoulder, of the musician (bînkar) seated on the ground.

The fingers of the right hand are fitted with 2 or 3 metal tabs (mezrab).


South East Asia


Cambodge 1

Chapey cambodge

The Chapey is a lute with two strings (formerly four) from Cambodia.

Generally it is cut in three different woods: a sound box in krasaing and jackfruit, and a teak handle ", all fixed by an ankle in elephant bone.

The chapey accompanies the vocal improvisations of itinerant musicians and is also used in wedding ensembles.

It can be played solo or together. In general, artists sing old legends, or tell an event for educational purposes.



Kacapi indonesie

The Kacapi is a plucked string musical instrument from the country Sunda in Indonesia and also exists in java center under the name of siter.

This zither exists in several varieties: batak, sulawesi, kacapi indung, kacapi rincik. It is used in particular in kacapi suling.

It is a small zither 75 cm long, with two metal cores, in the shape of a boat, cut in monoxyl wood, with a cavity in the back. It has two friction pins.

The neck has five or six frets excavated and chiseled from solid wood.

The bridge consists of a rest of the wood of the sound box, left on the soundboard which has several gills. He is often very decorated and polished, sometimes making his game impossible, being then only a decorative piece.

It is an instrument played with a large plectrum, but of which few musicians remain.

We play it either solo or as accompaniment.

It is usually accompanied by the old tarawangsa and can be part of a gamelan.



Keroncong indonesie

The Keroncong is a ukulele-type musical instrument.

It is used in traditional Indonesian music by a group of musicians usually composed, in addition to the keroncong player, a flautist, a cavaquinho type guitar, a cello and / or a bass and a singer or a singer.

By extension, the music played with this instrument is qualified as keroncong.

It appeared in the 16th century when sailors imported Portuguese instruments and music to Indonesia.

It was first assimilated by the common people, the Buaya.

Then, it gradually rises in all social strata.

It is now considered to be part of Indonesian folklore.



Hegelung philipines

The Hegelung is a musical instrument related to a tall, slender, two-stringed lute built and played by the T’boli tribes of the Philippines.

It has nine wooden frets for the melody, the other serving as a drone.



A nguy t vietnam

The Dàn nguyệt or đàn kìm is a Vietnamese string instrument. It is also called a moon-shaped lute (or lute-moon1) because of the shape of its sound box.

There are two strings in silk.

It would have appeared in Vietnam in the 11th century.

The instrument can be tuned in different ways. Often the strings are tuned in fourth or fifth or more rarely in the octave.

It is tuned according to the range of the singer, the singer or another instrument with which he plays.



An b u vietnam

The Dàn bầu or đàn độc huyền is a Vietnamese musical instrument, monochord.

The only rope is half pinched, half rubbed with a bamboo plectrum, held in the right hand. The height can be changed using a flexible handle, fitted with a sound box, manipulated with the left hand.

The oldest testimonies of the existence of the instrument estimate the date of its creation at 1770.

The instrumental technique consists in rubbing the plectrum under the string, in a movement from bottom to top expressed by the right wrist, in order to cause its vibration.

The pitch of the note thus generated varies according to the tension of the string, which is altered thanks to the neck on the left of the instrument.

The further the neck is moved away from the string, the more the string will be stretched, and the higher the note will be.



An tranh vietnam

The Dàn tranh is a Vietnamese plucked string musical instrument from the zither family on the table, close to the Japanese koto or Chinese guzheng.

The Vietnamese Đàn Tranh originates from Chinese Guzheng. It has been adapted by the Vietnamese since the time of the Trần kings, as a 9, 15 or 16 string instrument.

Over time, this instrument has seen its silk strings replaced by metal strings. Today, modern models have 17 strings instead of the usual 16 strings.

A 22-string model adds an additional octave and allows you to play more in the bass.

Dàn tranh has the shape of an elongated, rounded body, length from 110 to 120 cm. It has sixteen strings.

There are easels in the middle of the instrument to tune the notes. Before, artists often wore 3 plectres per inch, index and middle finger to pluck the strings. The plectra are made of metal, horn or ivory.

Dàn tranh is played alone to accompany poems or played with other traditional instruments for folk music preferably.