Not many people know that I play Yangqin.
The problem is: They may not even know what is a Yangqin.
“Hi, my name is qin, yangqin.”
I started learning Yangqin when I was 13. I didn’t even remember why I chose that instrument, I just felt that I prefer an instrument that can range well between treble and bass.
In an open performance years ago, a Caucasian went up to me and asked me what I am playing. I told him: “It’s Yangqin, or sometimes we called it the “Butterfly Hut“. If someone ask me again today, I will add another more professional term for it: “In Western countries, it’s a dulcimer“.
Aha! A dulcimer! You will roughly have an idea that sound is produced by striking strings with something in your hands, but not your hands. (If you decide to hammer the strings for 10 songs, I guess you’d have to buy insurance for your fingers!) That THING is, in fact, a pair of bamboos!
Bamboos and their “House”
When the bamboo reaches the strings, you will hear a crystal-clear “Ching” sound, tailed by a long long echo. In order to protect the bamboo and the strings, normally we’d coat another layer of rubber on the bamboo.
Another good news: Sometimes we DO pluck the strings softly with our fingers.
Tuning this instrument is a disaster! If you have to tune one yangqin at one-go, it’s catastrophic! If you have to tune more than one yangqins at one-go, within 1 hour, you will feel like dying! Why???
If tuning one string takes about 1 minute (some notes are even formed by four strings!):
1 string = 1 minute
1 Note with 4 Strings = 4 Minutes
10 Notes with 4 Strings = 40 Strings = 40 Minutes
2 Yangqins with 10 Notes (Formed by 4 Strings each) = 40 x 2 Strings = 40 x 2 Minutes (THAT WOULD BE 1.3 HOURS!!!)
This is just a simple elaboration, luckily, some notes are formed by only one string. Anyway, it’s still scary!
If you think you have seen this instrument before, it might be true. You know why? Because….
I have seen it also….
And maybe some other places that I haven’t been to…