The Pipa is a four-stringed lute and is one of the oldest Chinese musical instruments. The two Chinese characters “pi” and “pa” stood for plucking the strings forward and backward respectively. It is one of the most complicated plucking string instruments because all ten fingers are active. It is a versatile instrument, describing the softest whisper of the wind and the loud roar of the ocean.
The Liuqin is shaped like a willow leaf and is like a small pipa. It is a plucking instrument used for playing high-pitched melodies.
“Yue” means the Moon in Chinese. The instrument got its name from its full- moon-shaped sound box. The instrument is plucked with a plectrum. It is most often played in Beijing Opera rather in a Chinese orchestra. However, this is a good instrument for young children whose fingers are too small to play the Ruan.
Xiaoruan and Zhongruan
The Ruan is a four-stringed, circular shaped guitar with a long and straight neck, frets and a bridge. The Xiaoruan plays alto parts; the Zhongruan, tenor parts. There are also soprano and bass Ruan. The Ruan produces a pleasing tremolo, a cyclic fluctuation of tone.