Chinese Musical Instruments
The sanxian (three-string lute) is an important Chinese plucked string
instrument. It consists of a neck and soundbox, both ends of which are covered
with snakeskin. The inner and outer strings of the sanxian are tuned an octave
apart, with the central string tuned to a fourth or a fifth. The instrument has
a range of three octaves. The traditional sanxian comes in large and small
versions. The strings of the small sanxian may be tuned to A, d, and a, or to d,
a, and d1. The large version is tuned to G, d, and g. The sanxian is played by
pressing the strings with the left hand, while the right hand plucks the strings
with the fingers or a pick. Sanxian music is lively and upbeat. The instrument
is often used to accompany shuochang (spoken song) music or regional opera, or
as part of the Chinese orchestra.
Traditional solo works for the sanxian include Hehuan Ling (Coming Together
in Happiness) and Hai Qing Na E (Hai Qing Grasps the Goose).
The sanxian is generally considered to have its origins in the Qin Dynasty.
Recent archeological excavations have yielded tomb paintings of sanxian players
dating from the Liao-Song-Yuan period .
(3.6) Yangqin (hammered dulcimer)
The traditional Chinese yangqin (hammered
dulcimer) consists of a trapezoidal or butterfly-shaped soundbox, with steel
strings strung across two bridges on the top surface. There are three types of
yangqin - eight-tone with a range from f1 to c2, ten-tone with a range from d1
to d3, and twelve-tone with a range from c to e3. Contemporary professional
orchestras generally use the twelve-tone type, which is capable of producing a
complete chromatic scale. The yangqin is played on a table, with bamboo hammers
held in each hand used to strike the strings on either side of the two bridges.
The yangqin, with its clear and melodious tone and extensive range, is used in
all types of traditional music.
Traditional works for the yangqin include Longchuan (Dragon Boat), Su Wu (Su
Wu Herding Sheep), and Jiangjun Ling (The General Leads the Troops).