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Yangqin a.k.a. Dulcimer (扬琴)

October 12th, 2007 by Ah Doe

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!

Yangqin Bamboos

Bamboos and their “House”

Yangqin Bamboo Closeup


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….

Yangqin in Cambodia

In Cambodia

Yangqin in Italy, Sicily’s Taormina
In Taormina, Sicily Island, Italy

And maybe some other places that I haven’t been to…


15 Responses to “Yangqin a.k.a. Dulcimer (扬琴)”

  1. AhDoe - Music as an International Language » Blog Archive » An Orchestral Version of Gong Xi Gong Xi Says:

    […] chosen are mainly and exclusively for them. Some notable instruments are Yangqin (Introduced in one of my posts earlier), Zhong Ruan, Pipa, Liu Qin, Er Hu and etc. I will blog about these instruments in the […]

  2. baby Says:

    Nice website!!

  3. David Nereson Says:

    Am seeking information on tuning a yangquin. Apparently different models have different numbers of strings and bridges, and I imagine there are different ways of tuning them. Where can one obtain tuning charts?

  4. Ah Doe Says:

    Hi David,

    Do you know what’s your yangqin model?

  5. JSheng Says:

    I play the euphonium among other things. And people always ask the same question:

    “What’s a euphonium?”

    My feeble attempts at explanation include a “mini-tuba”. Gosh

  6. Mei-ling Says:

    Hi, I am wondering if you have any score for Yanquin? I have been looking on -line, but no luck…



  7. Ah Doe Says:


    What songs are you looking for?

  8. Ed Word Says:

    Seem Yangqin is hard to play anyway this is considerate content. i feel affection for it and will check back for your new piece of writing again.

  9. Lai Ya-wen Says:

    Hey! I’m learning the Yangqin, but I’m having difficulties finding sheet music!

    It will be greatly appreciated!

  10. Tammie Says:

    Hi! Do you have any idea on how to tune the 扬琴?
    Couldn’t find anyone who could tune it here 🙁
    Please and thank you 🙂

  11. Ah Doe Says:

    Hi Tammie,

    Do you mean in Singapore?

  12. Tammie Says:

    Nope! I’m from Brunei. 🙂

  13. Ah Doe Says:

    Hi Tammie,

    Too bad I am not familiar with Brunei, unless you want to consider Miri?

  14. Tammie Says:

    Miri where? Can I have the address please. THANKS 😀

  15. Shaheen Says:


    I am from Mauritius and im looking to see if anyone is willing to teach me Yangqin via skype?
    I have the instrument already and its tuned.
    Also know the basic techniques.

    Let me know!

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