The guitar is one of the most popular instruments globally, enjoyed by musicians of all skill levels. But did you know that many other string instruments from Asia are just as enjoyable to play? In this blog post, we will explore some of these instruments.
Shamisen – Japan
The shamisen is a three-stringed instrument from Japan that has been around for centuries. It is used in various music genres, including traditional Japanese music, folk music, and even rock and roll. The shamisen is played with a pick and is held like a guitar.
Pipa – China
The pipa is a four-stringed instrument from China that has a pear-shaped body. It is commonly used in traditional Chinese music but can also be found in jazz and pop music. The pipa is played with the fingers and is held upright on the lap. Shen Yun musicians often use the pipa.
The Pipa has a long history and was once played by a royal court orchestra in ancient China. Today, it is still used in traditional Chinese music as a solo and ensemble instrument. The Pipa has a clear and mellow sound that is often compared to the flute.
Ruan – China
The ruan, also spelt as erhu or yueqin, is a two-stringed fiddle from China. It has a round body with a snakeskin-covered sound opening. The instrument is held upright, and the strings are plucked with a bow.
The ruan is used in various Chinese musical genres such as instrumental pieces, operas, and folk music. It is also a popular solo instrument. The ruan has a bright and resonant sound that can be both sad and cheerful.
Koto – Japan
The Koto is a Japanese string instrument that dates back to the seventh century. It is a long, horizontal harp with 13 strings that are plucked with the fingers. The Koto is usually made of Paulownia wood and can be up to two meters in length.
The Koto has a beautiful and calming sound. It is used in various Japanese music genres such as traditional court music, folk songs, and religious music. The Koto is also a popular solo instrument.
Koto players often wear long nails on their right hand to pluck the strings. This produces a characteristic sound that is unique to the Koto.
Veena – India
The Veena is a plucked string instrument from India. It is one of the oldest musical instruments globally, with references to it dating back to 1500 BCE. The veena has a long neck and a resonating chamber that is made from a gourd.
There are two main types of veena: the sarangi veena and the rudra veena. The sarangi veena is a popular folk instrument, while the rudra veena is a classical concert instrument.
The Veena has a rich and mellow sound. It is used in various Indian music genres such as Carnatic and Hindustani. The veena is also a popular solo instrument. Players of the veena often sit cross-legged on the floor when playing. This allows them to use both hands to pluck the strings and produce intricate melodies.
In conclusion, each of these instruments has its own unique history, sound, and style of play. So if you’re looking for something new to try, why not pick up one of these Asian string instruments? You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it.