Ruan - Chinese Traditional Musical Instruments
7. Plucked String Instrument
The Ruan is also known as the moon guitar, and comes in a variety of different sizes and pitches. It is fitted with four strings and frets. Its soundboard is wooden. Its appearance is much later in Chinese history.
Ruan (moon-shaped short-necked lute) is a Chinese fretted instrument dating back to 140-87 B.C. The name is a shortened form of Ruan Xian, a musician and one of the "seven Sages of Bamboo Grove" of the 3rd century (the Six Dynasties). Pictorial evidence, excavated from a tomb of his time in Nanjing, depicting Ruan Xian's performance of this instrument, confirms that its construction was roughly the same as that of today. Later Ruan was once termed as qin pipa (dating to the Qin dynasty between 221-207 BC) or yueqin (moon-shaped short-necked lute). It is a short necked Chinese foiled lute, 4 strings, played by plectrum. It is used by orchestras as well as for accompanying operatic performances. The ruan consists of three parts: resonator, neck and head. On the neck are 24 frets in half steps. Four strings, tuned to fifths (like a mandolin), provide a wide range of notes. It comes in several sizes according to their different ranges. Neat delicate tone. The ruan is now constructed as a family of soprano, alto, tenor and bass, a development intended to increases its range and effectiveness in the modern Chinese orchestra. The alto and the tenor are commonly used. A plectrum is needed in performance. Mellow in tone quality, it is often seen in ensembles or in accompaniments, and as a solo instrument in recent years.On to Instrument 8 Back to Chinese Musical Instruments Page 1