How I Mastered the Gyumang in One Day

Hi LD world! It’s been a while since my last post and a lot has happened since then – but one of the most exhilarating things happened to me recently…. I got a chance to play the gyumang!!! which I (and I’m guessing a lot of you) always knew as the yangchin. See, my youngest sister is the musician in our household. When she was a little chubster, my parents used to send her off to Toronto in the summers to learn how to play dramyen which she became quite good at. Then when she went off to TCV Summer Camp last year, she learned how to play the lingbu (Tibetan flute), and also got to try her hand at the gyumang. Since returning to Canada, she’s been taking regular gyumang lessons from a Genla in Toronto and has gotten pretty decent at it. So the last time I went home I asked if I could play with the majestic-looking instrument, and got the go-ahead, with my sister teaching me the basics. And so I present, a Lhakar Diaries exclusive performance of moi playing the gyumang, with background lingbu accompaniment by Gen Lobsang la:

Some fun facts I learned while googling this instrument:

  • The gyumang became popular in Tibet between the 14th and 15th centuries.
  • The Tibetan term of gyumang seems to be derived from the Tibetan words gyuba and mangbo – ‘gyuba’ meaning ‘strings/chords’ and ‘mangbo’ meaning ‘many’.
  • It seems that yangchin was either derived from the Chinese word of yangquin or is in fact a Chinese word.
  • The English term for this type of instrument is Dulcimer.

Just to clean your palate, I thought I’d share a video of someone who actually knows how to play the instrument beautifully:

I hope you enjoyed at least one of these two performances. And if anyone has any clarifications on anything I wrote or any other cool facts about the gyumang please do post them in the comments section – I’d love to learn more, I couldn’t find too much information on the world wide web.

p.s. Obviously I didn’t master how to play the gyumang in one day as you can see the video. I’m only doing it to bug my sister – when I suggested this as the name of this post to my sister, she yelled at me, “You’re degrading the name of real yangchin players worldwide!”. Muahaha.

p.s.s. Apparently dlo08 knows how to play the gyumang and has challenged me to a gyumang battle, so keep an eye out for a post about that when it happens.