30 April 2020
30 April 2020,

Have you ever wondered what are the differences between different models of Yangqin?

You might have come across the Yangqin terms 401, 402 and 402G, but what do they all mean?

In our latest of EM Live! session, we explored the differences between 401, 402 and 402G Yangqins, as well as the latest in Yangqin development – the muting pedal.

A brief history in Yangqin development

To make a long story short, the Yangqin did not originate from China. One historical theory suggests that it was brought into China from Persia (modern day Iran) through the Silk Route during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 A.D.).

So early Yangqin resembles a Santur (picture below), which is still widely played in the Middle East and in India.

The Santur

Another theory suggests that the instrument was brought into China by sea, as there has been a boom in popularity of the Yangqin in the Guangdong (Canton) region.

Regardless of historical accuracy, the Yangqin took off in China, appearing mostly in regional operas and Jiangnan Sizhu music.

We’ve attached two more pictures below for your reference on how the Yangqin developed from two bridges to three bridges over the centuries.

Early versions of Yangqins features only two bridges, with a smaller body
(Picture courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
A three-bridge Yangqin, with a significant increase in size, number of notes and number of strings used.
401 Yangqin

It was only until around the 1960s, the Yangqin undergone a drastic change. Which will then become the basis of conventional Yangqin models.

The 401 Yangqin features the addition of one extra bridge, making it a total of 4 bridges, just like what the modern Yangqin looks like. The instrument also features one 3-fretted mini bridge on the top left corner of the instrument.

This provides the Yangqin with a complete set of chromatic scale, boasting a remarkable range starting from the lowest note of G2 to the highest note of A6.

You might be wondering, why is it named 401? It’s rather straight forward, the “4” represents the 4 long bridges, while the “1” represents the shorter bridge on the top left corner of the instrument. Do bear this in mind, because this will be useful in the next segment when we introduce the 402 and 402G Yangqin model.

The 401 Yangqin model features 4 long bridges, with one smaller chromatic bridge on the top left corner of the instrument. (Picture courtesy of Jiangsu Dafeng Instrument Co., Ltd.)
402 Yangqin

Around the 1990s, the Yangqin went through even more modifications. With the increase in repertoire difficulty, the 401 Yangqin simply couldn’t provide the ease and convenience of playing. So, the 402 Yangqin was introduced.

The 402 Yangqin is the most conventional Yangqin in the industry today. Just as mentioned earlier, the “4” in 402 represents the 4 main bridges on the Yangqin, while the “2” would represent the two mini bridges at the top left and bottom right of the Yangqin.

402 Yang Qin

Furthermore, it is good to take note that the 3 bridges on the right has been extended, to allow players to have access to even more convenience in playing. The notes on the extended parts of the bridge shares the same range as the notes at the original placement. This added region is known as the “II note placement” (二位音).

You may refer to the note chart below to have a better understanding of note placements.

A typical Yangqin note chart that beginners refer to. Note that the numbers (15-30) are the string numbers used for the corresponding notes.

Notice how the a# note can be found on the both the 3rd fret of the 3rd bridge (counting from the right) as well as the top 2nd fret of the 1st bridge?It is due to the addition of the “II Placement” players are given more options in figuring out the sticking (to minimize the criss cross of hands when playing pieces in top speeds!) .

And it is because of the new modification to the 402 Yangqin, many composers would compose their pieces according to the 402 Yangqin range. The note progression and the placement of the scales would be more fitted to the 402 Yangqin.

402G Yangqin, Deymeng Yangqin, and Yangqin with Muting Pedals
402G Yangqin

Over the years, with more and more contemporary repertoire being introduced to the Yangqin, there was a call for even more modifications to the instrument. The 402G Yangqin, Deymeng Yangqin and Yangqin with muting pedals were then introduced.

The main difference between 402 and 402G Yangqin would be three added frets at the bottom right of the Yangqin. The addition of these 3 notes completes the chromatic scale of the bass range.

Though with the extended notes, 402 is still more popular among many Yangqin musicians in China.

蝶梦 (dié mèng) Yangqin | Deymeng Yangqin
蝶梦(dié mèng)Yangqin

Under the configuration of 402G Yang Qin, the 蝶梦(dié mèng) is one of the first few Yang Qins to have a proper muting pedal. It is specially designed by Li Ling Ling(李玲玲), the current professor of The Chinese Conservatory of Music.

Muting Damper installed onto the Yangqin

Revolutionary of it’s time, with it added distance between the bridges, the entire base and middle range notes are enhanced.

Muting Pedal

With the muting pedal installed to the Yangqin, functionally it is very similarly to the sustain pedal on the piano. Upon stepping on the muting pedal, it unmutes the Yangqin. Otherwise, the mutes cuts off the sustain and long notes of the Yangqin.

So, for Yangqin musicians, they are living in a time of great development, both instrument wise and repertoire wise. With the current development of the 402 Yangqin, 402G Yangqin and Yangqin with muting pedals, the possibilities and potential of playing music on the Yangqin has been drastically improved as well!

How Do I Get A Yangqin with Muting Pedals For Myself?
Customised 402 Yuehai Yangqin

So, after reading all that and understanding a brief developmental history of the Yangqin, it sure must be exciting to own a Yangqin, especially one with muting pedals on!

Well, upon ordering or purchase at the Yuehai factory, you can actually request for a customisation on your Yangqin. From the material of the instrument, model required to the installation of the pedal.

Best of all, you can actually purchase the Yuehai brand Yangqin through our webstore, and request for the installation of the pedals as well (with added fares and waiting time).

Portable Yangqin by Yuehai
Portable Yangqin

Lastly, for Yangqin players who’ve always wished to have a Yangqin that they can carry out to perform outdoors, we would like to introduce the portable Yangqin. From the original size of 180cm to 98cm. The portable Yangqin is significantly lighter.

The portable Yangqin is a hybrid of the Yangin model 401 and 402. Though there are lesser strings and notes as compared to the Yangqin model 402, the portable Yangqin is good for outdoor performances and practicing at home leisurely.

Click here for more information.

Solo Performance

The live session ends off with a Yangqin solo piece called The General’s Command (《将军令》).

It depicts the scenes of the ancient battlegrounds. Through the transcend of the melody, it narrates the powerful summons of war drums and the tension of war times.

Find out more of our different varieties of Yangqin at our web store today!

We have trimmed the session and posted it on youtube. Watch below if you have missed our Live! #6.

Do stay tuned to more fun every Friday, 5pm on our Facebook or Instagram!

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