Hakka Affairs Council

Music & Drama

Instrument

Erhu

  • Post Date:2006-01-12
Erhu

This is also called the Nanhu, the Erxian, the Wengzi, or the Huhu.

The Erhu’s stick, box, bumper, and bridge are all made of wood. The box is made of redwood, padauk, ebony or rose wood. This instrument is hexagonal, octagonal, or elliptic. The front is covered with python skin or snake skin, and there is a sound hole in the back. There are wood or bone inlaid patterns. The stick is made of hardwood. The head is carved with a dragon head or in a curved, flattened shape. There is a ratchet drum for the soft silk strings and a wood or bamboo bridges, 2 strings, and a string anchor. It is played with a horsehair bow that passes between two of the strings, 82 centimeters long. Generally it is tuned at the fifth ofd1-a1. The register is betweend1~d4, about 4 octaves. It is one of the mezzo instruments among the strings, and different registers have different characteristics. The mid-bass is full and powerful; the alto is soft and gentle; the treble is clear and bright, but in its upper reaches it is hard to control. The Erhu is the broadest and most expressive of the stringed instruments. It has a graceful tone, and can play both soft and smooth tunes and pulsing, strong melodies, varying its sound repeatedly. Because it has been used in many different areas, its fundamental techniques are similar, but performance styles differ, with a strong local color.

Other than for Nanguan music, it can be used in many other areas. It is one of the main rhythm instruments in Chinese musical groups. It is suitable for solo or ensemble performances, or for accompaniment, and it is vital to many folk operas.

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