Erhu - Chinese Traditional Musical Instruments - Page 1
1. Erhu - Bowed String Instrument
The Erhu has a small body and a long neck. There are two strings, with the bow inserted between them. With a range of about three octaves, it's sound is rather like a violin, but with a thinner tone due to the smaller resonating chamber. In the 2nd orchestra they are usually divided into 1st and 2nd parts. The Erhu first appears about 1104 AD during the Song Dynasty. We bought ours in Zhengzhou in 1999. It hangs on the wall in our Great Room. You often see blind men playing this instrument in some of the big cities. I always enjoyed listening and gave them money for their efforts. Er is two in Chinese.
The Chinese 2-stringed, vertical fiddle has a history of more than 500 years. It started to be popular in Southern China during the Sung Dynasty (960-1279 AD), which gave it another name "Nan-hu" (the word "south" pronounced in Chinese as "Nan"). Erhu is still the most popular bowed instrument in today's Chinese music. An erhu is quite different from a western fiddle. There is a vertical post with a fingerboard, which goes through the sides of a resonator at its base. This resonator is covered with a piece of stretched snakeskin (python), which results in a unique "whining" tone color of the instrument. The bow for the erhu is placed between its two strings. Traditionally the two strings are made of silk, although metallic strings are used as well. The player of an erhu usually sits, and the erhu is placed on his left upper thigh in front of his left hip. The instrument is played by moving the bow horizontally through the two vertical strings. Erhu's range spans about three octaves. It has some of the qualities of a violin, but having a more nasal tone. Erhu is capable of producing a gentle but firm tone.
Erhu is a kind of violin (fiddle) with two strings, which, together with zhonghu, gaohu, sihu, etc, belongs to the "huqin" family. It is said that its origin would be dated up to the Tang dynasty (618-907) and related to the instrument, called xiqin originated from a Mongolian tribe Xi. During Song dynasty (960-1279), the second generation of the huqin was among the instruments played at the imperial banquets.On to Erhu Page 2
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