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date: 20 February 2020


  • Alan R. Thrasher


Short-necked lute of the Han Chinese. Literally ‘moon qin’, the name is often popularly translated as ‘moon lute’. The yueqin is constructed of a short fingerboard inserted into a large circular resonating chamber (about 60 cm in total length). Distinguishing features include four long tuning pegs inserted laterally into the pegbox, soundboards of softwood (commonly wutong) covering the top and bottom of the resonating chamber, and between eight and 12 bamboo frets glued to the neck and upper part of the soundboard. On traditional lutes, four silk strings are grouped in two double courses and tuned a 5th apart.

The yueqin is historically related to several Han Chinese lutes, especially the qinqin, shuangqing and ruan. The qinqin (‘Qin [kingdom] qin’) has a long fretted neck, often only two or three strings (pitched about one octave lower than the yueqin) and a scalloped or ‘plum blossom’ shaped resonating chamber (about 90 cm in total length). The ...

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