#1
My latest addition to my collection of instruments arrived today. It is a xiaoruan, an ancient Chinese lute.

The Ruan dates all the way back to the 3rd century BC in northern China. Whether it is an importation or a Chinese invention is still the subject of hot debate among historians. For several centuries the ruan was actually called the qin pipa until it diverged into two unique instruments. One became the modern Chinese pipa, seen here and the other became the ruan, named after Ruanxian, a famous scholar of the Tang dynasty. The instrument was traditionally pentatonic right up until the 1950s when China was newly reformed by the communist party and notions of being "modern" swept through the country, leading musicians to adopt chromatically placed frets.

Here is a depiction of a ruan from the Tang dynasty ~700 A.D.


And at last, here is my new baby




I find it quite interesting how little it has changed in construction over the past 1,300 years. A testament to the design perhaps? Today ruans come in several different sizes, from the bass daruan to the gaoyin ruan (literally "high pitch ruan"). My particular ruan is the equivalent of the alto voice and is about the size of a banjo.

Finally, here is a ruan quartet playing the song Little Shepherds. The instruments are, from left to right: xiaoruan, xiaoruan, daruan, zhongruan.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loi46BRneVo


Discuss ancient instruments if you'd like or feel free to ask me questions about this or other ancient music/instruments.
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#3
Quote by Horsedick.MPEG
How much did that thing cost you?



Including shipping I paid around 600 USD. Definitely the most I've spent on an instrument aside from my main flute and main guitar.
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#4
That's not so bad, I figured those things would cost about a grand, though I guess they have varying brands.
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#5
Quote by Horsedick.MPEG
That's not so bad, I figured those things would cost about a grand, though I guess they have varying brands.



Well the size impacts the price greatly. They can easily get into the multiple thousands for really, really nice ones.
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#7
I had a feeling this would be a Stewie thread due to the foreign instrument nature, wasn't disappointed. Neat instrument though, does this follow the 12-tone western music tuning/frets, or does it have microtones and stuff?
#8
Quote by Skullivan
I had a feeling this would be a Stewie thread due to the foreign instrument nature, wasn't disappointed. Neat instrument though, does this follow the 12-tone western music tuning/frets, or does it have microtones and stuff?



Yeah, the frets are all chromatic and the strings are tuned DADA, so it's sorta like playing in drop-d. There aren't any microtone frets, but the frets are raised off of the neck by about half an inch so you can easily bend a microtone if you press hard.
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#9
I'm actually considering getting one of those myself. There's a classical guitarist in Houston that owns a shop primarily dealing in guitars, but he has done a lot of traveling and has just dozens of ethnic and crazy instruments hanging from the ceiling in his store. He even has a classical guitar made out of a turtle shell. Anyways, he has a Ruan, two Pipas and an Erhu. I'm not sure what kind of quality they are, but they look really similar to OP, especially the headstock. The owner sells them around $200.

I've played the Pipa. I don't know much, but the strings definitely felt and sounded "legit" to the music.
Last edited by The Madcap at Nov 15, 2013,
#11
Quote by The Madcap
The owner sells them around $200.



Even though folk instruments are generally cheaper than western ones, that's still worryingly cheap. If you're serious about buying something like this, check out this site:

http://easonmusicstore.com/

I get most of my eastern instruments from here (including this one)
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#12
I can't not see a face on it.
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#13
Pretty neat. Is that the ones that is tuned and played almost the same as a mandolin?
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#14
Quote by macashmack
Is the video a good representation of the tone/timber of your lute?



Here's a crappy vocaroo recording of mine. http://vocaroo.com/i/s0U6kOkJLz46


Quote by theogonia777
Pretty neat. Is that the ones that is tuned and played almost the same as a mandolin?



Dunno what tuning the mandolin does, but the xiaoruan is DADA
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#15
Quote by StewieSwan
Dunno what tuning the mandolin does, but the xiaoruan is DADA


That's pretty similar. Mandolin is GGDDAAEE (same as violin but course). It's a bit more reminiscent of open tunings for fiddle (GDGD or AEAE usually) though.
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#16
lol a lute what a fag you should listen to guns and roses and grow balls looser
#17
Quote by StewieSwan
Here's a crappy vocaroo recording of mine. http://vocaroo.com/i/s0U6kOkJLz46


Dunno what tuning the mandolin does, but the xiaoruan is DADA
Sounds groovy. I like it.
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#18
flute?
*-)
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#20



Really though, that's pretty cool. I'd really love to get an oud.
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#21
Quote by Skynyrd890
I'd really love to get an oud.

I have an oud, handcrafted from Damascus.
#22
Probably taken off a child's cold, dead, extorted hands

participating in the blood oud industry, you absolute BASTARD
#23
It was before the war D:

But to be honest, the person who made it probably is literally dead. It's weird to think about.
#26
Eh, I have a rifle that I'm almost positive got its user killed during WWII...

That seems weirder than having an oud made by a person who now happens to be dead.
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#31
Quote by Baby Joel
I have an oud, handcrafted from Damascus.


I'd love to have an oud. Those are wicked cool instruments.
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#32
I didn't know the Chinese had their own version of the lute, that's neat. Have you ever considered getting a shamisen?
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#33
Quote by Gibson_SG_uzr55
I didn't know the Chinese had their own version of the lute, that's neat. Have you ever considered getting a shamisen?



Yeah, I've thought about it, but I don't like them enough to spend that kind of money on one.
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#34
Off-handedly related: I'm reading The Name of the Wind (a newer fantasy book with a traveling troupe of bards in it) and the main character plays a seven string lute, practices scales, sings epic tales, and such.

So, thanks for that, I was wondering what his music would sound like.
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