Search Tour
Your Budget
Tailor made China tours & customised China tours
Ask Question? Ask us here

Erhu, a traditional Chinese musical instrument

The Erhu is a two-stringed bowed musical instrument and is known as the Chinese violin in the western world. It is used as a solo instrument as well as in small ensembles and large orchestras. It is the most popular of the huqin family of traditional bowed string instruments used by various ethnic groups of China. Erhu is a very versatile instrument and can be used in both traditional and contemporary music arrangements, such as in pop, rock, jazz, etc.

The Erhu originates from instruments introduced into China more than a thousand years ago. It is believed to have evolved from the xiqin, an musical instrument invented by Xi People in central Asia.

The first Chinese character of the name of the instrument is believed to come from the fact that it has two strings. An alternate explanation states that it comes from the fact that it is the second highest huqin in pitch to the gaohu in the modern Chinese orchestra. The second character indicates that it is a member of the huqin family. The name huqin literally means "barbarian instrument", showing that the instrument likely originated from regions to the north or west of China inhabited by non-Han peoples.

Representative figures and works
A notable composer for the erhu was Liu Tianhua, who composed 47 exercises and 10 solo pieces which were central to the development of the Erhu as a solo instrument. His works for the instrument include Moon Night (Yue Ye in Chinese) and Shadows of Candles Flickering Red (Zhu ying Yao hong in Chinese).

Other solo pieces include Moon Reflected on Second Spring ( Er Quan Ying Yue in Chinese) by A Bing, Horse Race (Sai Ma in Chinese) by Huang Haihuai, Henan folk tune (Henan Xiaoqu in Chinese) by Liu Mingyuan, and Sanmen Gorge Capriccio (Sanmenxia Changxiangqu in Chinese) by Liu Wenjin. Most solo works are commonly performed with yangqin accompaniment, although pieces such as the ten solos by Liu Tianhua and Er Quan Ying Yue originally did not have accompaniment.