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Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The Erhu (Chinese: 二胡; pinyin: èrhú), also called nanhu (南胡, "southern fiddle"), and sometimes known in the West as the "Chinese violin" or "Chinese two-string fiddle," is a two-stringed bowed musical instrument, introduced into China a thousand years ago.

Not debating on how the name came about as it is obvious (二, èr, two) refers to the two strings and some states that it comes from the second highest pitch. The second character (胡, hú) has a high possibility in relation to a member of the huqin family originated from a Mongolian tribe.  

The shape of erhu is like a drum like usually  hexagonal  and 13cm in length which is covered with python snake skin at the front and the back is left open. It function as a music box amplifying the vibrations of the strings. The same material of ebony or sandalwood is used for the drum and the neck measuring about 81cm with two tuning pegs at the end of the stem. There is no frets or touching board, the player creates different pitches by touching the strings at various positions along the neck of the instrument.

The bow is 81 cm long arched with horse hair in the same way as the bow of violin and runs between the two strings which were usually silk or nylon but nowadays metal is getting popular. In another word, one cannot take off the bow from the instrument unless one of the two strings is taken off or broken. Professional players were using purpose made D and A steel erhu strings as standard. The cost of a set of erhu ranges from U$144 - U$800.

6 muzika comments:

foongpc said...

Thanks for this excellent info on the erhu!

Oh, the first video showed the man playing the scales on erhu! I can imagine how tough it is cos I have played the violin before and it was tough! Guess I don't have a flair for string instruments! Haha!

CheaHS@n said...

Wah you've got "ear-hu" can hear from so far. I just finished posting less than an hour, was about to buzz you and you beat me..thanks

Mei Teng said...

This is an interesting musical instrument. I heard it played when a young man performed at my nephew's concert and it sounds beautiful. Of course, the musician's a talented one too.

CheaHS@n said...

Hi Mei Teng ~ Thanks for dropping by, beginning to like erhu which initially when young the music always gave me a sad feeling but now the tempo has changed.

foongpc said...

Haha! Maybe I have bionic ears : )

CheaHS@n said...

foongpc ~ yes indeed, just posted in your blog on the Bibik contest and got your reply almost immediately.