Region: China > Far East Asia.
Type: Plucked Lute > Chordophone.
Description: The ruan (阮, pinyin: ruǎn) is a Chinese plucked lute having, raised frets, a distinct circular body and four strings. Possessing a history of that is at least two thousand years old. These instruments due to their circular bodies are erroneously called “moon guitars”. Although in fairness the two instruments do sound alike even if they are not related. Many 7th century depictions of the ruan in the court orchestras pained on the walls in Dun Huang.
Early History: The history of this instrument dates back to over 2,000 years. Having gone by several names having gone by several names [秦琵琶], ruan xian [阮咸] and ruan (阮). According to the Pipa Annals [琵琶赋] by Fu Xuan [傅玄] of the Western Jin Dynasty, the ruan was designed after revisions of other Chinese plucked string instruments of the day including the zheng (筝) and zhu (筑) or konghou (箜 篌) the Chinese harp. Another suggestion is that it was descended from an instrument called xiantao (弦鼗) which was constructed by labourers on the Great Wall of China during the late Qin Dynasty (hence Qin pipa) using strings stretched over a pellet drum.
In ancient China, the ruan was called Qin pipa Qin Dynasty, (221 BC - 206 BC). Prior to the Song Dynasty the use of the word pipa was a generic term for a number of plucked cordophones. Qin pipa from other pipas is that the Qin pipa had a long, straight neck with a round sound box while the pipa is pear-shaped. The name of "pipa" is associated with "tan tiao" (彈挑), a right hand techniques of playing a plucked string instrument. "Pi" (琵), which means "tan" (彈), is the downward movement of plucking the string. "Pa" (琶), which means "tiao" (挑), is the upward movement of plucking the string.
|Xiao Ruan / Alto||D3 A3 D4 A4|
|Gaoyin Ruan / Soprano||G3 D4 G5 D5|
|Zhong ruan / Tenor||G2 D3 G3 D4|
|Da Ruan / Bass||D2 A2 D3 A3|
|Diyin Ruan / Contrabass||G1 D2 G2 D3|
|Adopted standard||G3 D3 A4 E5|
|Adopted standard||C3 G3 D4 A4|