|The yueqin (Chinese: 月琴, pinyin: yuèqín; also spelled yue
qin, or yueh-ch'in; and also called moon guitar, moon-zither, gekkin,
la ch'in, or laqin) is a traditional Chinese string instrument. It is
a lute with a round, hollow wooden body which gives it the nickname moon
guitar. It has a short fretted neck and 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.
According to legend, the instrument was invented in China during the Qin Dynasty. It is an important instrument in the Beijing opera orchestra, often taking the role of main melodic instrument in lieu of the bowed string section.
A similar Japanese instrument, called the gekkin, was formerly used in Japan, particularly around the turn of the 20th century. Another very similar instrument, called đàn đoản or đàn tứ, is occasionally used in Vietnam.
There are 3 and 4 stringed versions of this instrument; and most are of Mandolin fashion, with doubled strings (Not sure how this works for the 3-stringed one yet?). The sound is a bit like a 'tinny' Mandolin, but it must have better uses than Peking Opera?
There is a good piece of YueQin music on the link below
Most of the links on this page do not work (Wrong fileheader), so go straight to: Qing Shen Yi Chang - mp3 download ... which opens a pop-up page using Quicktime player (or your system default)
Information extracts reproduced from Wikipedia under 'Collective Commons License'