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ErHu-The Chinese Violin

Updated on February 27, 2015

Erhu - The history

Erhu, the two-string bowed fiddle, is probably one of the best known and most popular representative Chinese musical instruments in the world today.

The Erhu is believe to be first appears and become popular in China about A.D. 960-1279 during the Song Dynasty. It was historically known as huqin, which indicating its northern association where Hu was a derogatory word for northern ethnic tribes. The term huqin was first mentioned in the Song dynasty.

It is not known that when and how the term erhu appeared. It most possibly originated in the early twentieth century when Liu Tianhua (1895 - 1932) made an exceptional contribution to the improvement of the erhu, and composed 10 erhu solo pieces. His effort left a significant impact on modern Chinese music history, and especially on erhu. In the twentieth century, equated to violin, erhu became a primary instrument for solo, and the leading instrument in both small regional ensembles and the modern Chinese instrumental orchestra.

This two-stringed instrument is played with the bow between the strings in a push-pull manner. The bow is which is made from reed and horsehair. The sound box which usually in hexagonal shape is covered by a python skin which gives the instrument its distinctive tone of color.

Erhu - the Chinese Violin
Erhu - the Chinese Violin

The Structure of Erhu

Erhu is somehow normally made from heavy hardwoods like red sandalwood. Red sandalwood is the most chosen woods. Other woods used to made Erhu include aged red wood, black wood and red wood.

Erhu's structure is very simple, it consists of a long vertical stick, with two large tuning pegs on top, and at the bottom is a small sound box or resonator body which is covered with python skin. Two strings are attached from the pegs to the base, and a small loop of string placed around the neck and acts as a nut pulls the strings towards the skin and holding a small wooden bridge on top of the python skin.

The bow normally made of bamboo and horsehair where the horsehair is securely placed between the two string unlike violin where the bow can be separated. The sound are produced from the friction between the horsehair and the string.

The Parts of Erhu

Erhu consists of 14 parts and all have their unique name

  • (Qín tou): head, top or tip of neck, usually a simple curve with a piece of bone or plastic on top, but is sometimes elaborately carved with a dragon's head.
  • (Qín gan): neck.
  • (Qín zhou): tuning pegs, traditional wooden, or metal machine gear pegs.
  • (Qian jin): nut, made from string, or, less commonly, a metal hook.
  • (Nèi xián): inside or inner string, usually tuned to D4, nearest to player.
  • (Wai xián): outside or outer string, usually tuned to A4.
  • (Qín tong): sound box or resonator body; it is hexagonal (liu jiao, southern), octagonal (ba jiao, northern), or, less commonly, round.
  • (Qín pí / She pí): skin, made from python. The python skin gives the erhu its characteristic sound.
  • (Qín ma): bridge, made from wood.
  • (Qín diàn): pad, a piece of sponge, felt, or cloth placed between the strings and skin below the bridge to improve its sound.
  • (Qín tuo): base, a piece of wood attached to the bottom of the qín tong to provide a smooth surface on which to rest on the leg.
  • (Gong): bow, has screw device to vary bow hair tension.
  • (Gong gan):bow stick, made from bamboo.
  • (Gong máo): bow hair, usually white horsehair.

Erhu Parts- The Chinese Violin
Erhu Parts- The Chinese Violin

How Erhu is played

Moon Reflection In The Er Quan

This music is also call Moon reflected on Second Spring and is composed by the famous blind talented street musician A-Bing.

Kiriko Sings "Studio Ghibli Films Music" With An Erhu. "Hare-Tane"

This album: Kiriko Sings "Studio Ghibli Films Music" With An Erhu. "Hare-Tane" is performed by the Japanese artist NAKANISHI KIRIKO

Studio Ghibli is the Japan famous animation films maker.

Erhu Solo - By Wei Xiao Dong

This is the Erhu solo performed by the Erhu player Wei Xiao Dong.

China Chen Jun: Erhu Classics

Chen Jun is an excellent erhu player from China.

This album consist of some outstanding pieces include "Shaking Red Candle Flame," and "Horse-Racing" which is, as I'm sure you can imagine, completely frantic in pace and energy.

It Is Poll TIme!

Please spare some time to take a vote, it won't take you too much of time.

Do you know to play any kind of musical instruments?

What kind of music instrument are you playiing?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Such a beautiful instrument. :)

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      I don't play an instrument but I wish I knew how. Blessed!

    • Elaine Chen profile image

      Elaine Chen 5 years ago

      when I was young, I did attend organ lesson; I hope to attend the organ class in near future for fun

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      Thank you for publishing this lens. I enjoyed listening to the samples in the videos.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'd never hear of this instrument before. It creates a beautiful sound! Thanks.

    • ForestBear LM profile image

      ForestBear LM 5 years ago

      Beautiful lens, very interesting to learn about the Chinese violin.

    • QuiltFinger profile image

      QuiltFinger 5 years ago from Tennessee

      What a unique instrument! Very informative lens!

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 5 years ago

      @JoshK47: Thank you for the blessing. Very much appreciated.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Popping back in the bless this great lens! :)

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      I learned to play guitar for some time but stopped when I lost contact with couple of friends we were learning together. One was really good and he moved to other part of the city, so...

      Well, one day maybe...

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 5 years ago from Kansas

      Great lens. Playing an instrument is a great hobby. Challenging but satisfying.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I don't play any musical instrument but enjoyed but enjoyed reading all about the Erhu!

    • iWrite4 profile image

      iWrite4 5 years ago

      i play guitar everyday :)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I used to but not anymore. This is really interesting.

    • Einar A profile image

      Einar A 5 years ago

      I do not play an instrument, but found this article fascinating! Thanks for the introduction to the ErHu.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      Yes, classic music on organ and occasional on piano. I like you lens, thanks for detailed history facts. Blessings on the way

    • fotolady49 lm profile image

      fotolady49 lm 5 years ago

      Very informative lens. I love the Erhu, thank you for sharing!

    • fotolady49 lm profile image

      fotolady49 lm 5 years ago

      Yes but I'm very rusty and definitely not good enough to play professionally. I love music, most genres. When I was younger I took lessons and was in the school concert band. Played Clarinet and Alto Sax. Later on I took guitar and organ lessons.

      Thanks for a great lens on the Erhu! I've always like the sound of it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What a wonderfully fascinating instrument, I don't think I had heard about it before but must have seen it on some programming because it looks familiar and the sound possibilities are amazing.

    • esvoytko lm profile image

      esvoytko lm 5 years ago

      I love this instrument. Thanks for sharing!

    • CNelson01 profile image

      Chuck Nelson 5 years ago from California

      Very interesting!

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 5 years ago from Gloucester

      Wow, I'd never heard of the Erhu before - a very interesting lens. I love the "Moon Reflection In The Er Quan" piece - beautiful! Blessed by a Squid Angel. :)

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Such a wonderful, beautiful instrument - blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      wonderful instrument. enjoyed the lovely music. thanks.

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      Thanks for all this great info on the chinese violin.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 6 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      Remarkable! Thanks so much for helping us learn about this interesting instrument.

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 6 years ago

      I love to play the piano. My daughter always dreamed of playing the violin. I must show her this fascinating lens! How interesting that the bow is placed between the strings! And such a variety of beautiful music that can be played with just two strings! This is wonderful.

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 6 years ago

      @sponias lm: Thank you for your blessing! It is my great pleasure to share such a nice music instrument to everybody.

    • sponias lm profile image

      sponias lm 6 years ago

      I used to play the piano and the guitar when I was young. I love classical music! This lens deserves to be blessed!

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

      I had not heard of the erhu before, very interesting sound!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 6 years ago

      What a remarkable violin! I had never heard of the ErHu.

    • greenmind profile image

      GreenMind 6 years ago from USA

      Keep up the good work! I like all of the music clips. More history?