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Erhu, a kind of bowed instrument, is the most representative one in the Chinese traditional folk musical instrument. As one of the most popular Chinese string instruments the two-stringed vertical fiddle has a long history of more than 1,000 years. Capable of making expressive and haunting sound, Erhu is extremely popular in China today as a medium for both traditional and contemporary music as well as plays an important role in both solo and orchestral performances.

Although hailed as a Chinese violin, Erhu is quite different from its western counterpart. There is a vertical post with a fingerboard crosses the sides of a resonator at its base. This resonator is covered with a piece of stretched python skin that produces a unique ‘whining' tone. The erhu bow is placed between its two strings namely the inner and outer strings. Traditionally the two strings are made of silk, but metallic strings are also used. An erhu player usually sits with the instrument on his or her left upper thigh in front of the left hip. The erhu is played by moving the bow horizontally over the two vertical strings. The erhu's range spans over three octaves and the tune shares some features with violin, although it produces a more nasal tone, which is gentle but firm.

Chinese musical instrument Erhu


The tone of Erhu resembles a human voice. Besides, it can imitate many natural sounds, such as bird and horse. As a very expressive instrument, Erhu can play not only melancholy tunes, but also joyful melodies. Erhu is usually employed in national orchestras. In smaller orchestras, there are usually two to six Erhus; in larger ones there are ten to twelve.

Famous Erhu Works

Horse Racing, Moonlight on the Second Spring are the top classic Erhu music works. The Moonlight on the Second Spring is created by a blind musician A Bing, which has become a classic performed bymany orchestras. Domestic affection is his main subject of this piece of music.