Quaint and not entirely useless fact:

The names of indigenous and ancient Chinese musical instruments usually consist of one single character, like

qin 琴 zither
sheng 笙 mouth-organ
zheng 箏 zither
di 笛 flute,

whereas those imported from outside China (generally Central Asia) tend to have two characters, like

bili 篳篥 oboe (Japanese hichiriki; descendant of the Chinese guan[zi] 管子)
 琵琶 lute
erhu 二胡 fiddle (and indeed huqin 胡琴, tiqin 提琴, and so on)
suona 嗩吶 shawm
yangqin 揚琴 dulcimer.

“Not a lot of people know that”. Perhaps we can think of some exceptions?

By the way, the pipa was held horizontally in medieval times, the angle getting higher over the course of a thousand years until attaining its present vertical position—surely the longest and most gradual erection known to mankind.

Lower row, left: Yang Dajun.

There are still a couple of regions where the older more horizontal position has been maintained:

(left) nanyin in Fujian; (right) Shaanbei bard.

6 thoughts on “Organology

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