Khim

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For the Dwarf in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings, see Khîm.
A standard Khmer khim with two hammers

The khim (Khmer: ឃឹម; Khum) is a hammered dulcimer from Cambodia. It is made of wood and trapezoidal in shape, with brass strings that are laid across the instrument. There are 14 groups of strings on the khim, and each group has 3 strings. Overall, the khim has a total of 42 strings. It is played with two flexible bamboo sticks with soft leather at the tips to produce the soft tone. It is used as both a solo and ensemble instrument. Tuning this instrument is very easy but time consuming. The player inserts a type of wrench on the prongs that stick up from the sides, but only turns the prongs on the left side. Turning the prongs on the right side can cause the string to break. Then the player turns the wrench which tightens or loosens the string to the desired pitch. The internal parts of a khim are hollow chambers that are used for sound projection and there are decorated acoustic sound receivers on both sides of the khim. This instrument can be played by either sitting down on the floor with the khim place on the floor as well, or by sitting on a chair or standing while the khim is on a stand. The khim produces a bright and expressive sound when played.

A boy playing a khim

The instrument was introduced to Cambodia from China, where a similar (though, since the late 20th century, usually larger) instrument is called yangqin; the khim produces a significantly softer sound. Traditional khims have two bridges, though in the late 20th century some players began using larger instruments with more bridges.

The Australian-born musician and vocal artist Lisa Gerrard specialises in the use of a khim hammered dulcimer, featuring its music on several albums and performing with the instrument live on tour.

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