Category Archives: Lutes

Lutes

Diyingehu

Name: Diyingehu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Fiddles > Huqins.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Inventor: Yang Yusen [1926-1980].
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The bass gehu [in Chinese 低音革胡; pinyin: dīyīngéhú, pronounced; tíín kɤ̌ xǔ]; also called digehu or beigehu 倍革胡, literally “bass gehu” is a Chinese bowed string instrument in the huqin family. It was developed by Yang Yusen along with the gehu in the 20th century. It has four strings and is the Chinese equivalent of the double bass.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:

Dahu

Name: Dahu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Fiddles > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Tuning:
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The dahu [in Mandarin Chinese: 大 胡; in pinyin: dàhú] it is the largest member of the huqin family of bowed, neck bowl lutes in terms of over all size and length. The dahu has been developed in three sizes, cizhonghu  xiaodihu, zhongdihu and dadihu.  

Etymology: The name derives from the Chinese character for “large” [dà] and the word hú shortened as a suffix for the family of instruments, the huqin family.

History: The dahu was developed in the 1930s as the tenor member of the erhu family. The erhu being the soprano [high pitched] lead instrument. This was modelled from the Western orchestra although the instruments were derived from the erhu as its a member of the huqin family. In between these two huqin the Zhong Hu was developed in line with the viola as its role to accompany erhu. This allows for harmony to be played.

Playing Techniques: The bow passes between the instrument’s two strings means that playing pizzicato is difficult; thus, the larger gehu and diyingehu, laruan [or cello or double bass] are generally used in Chinese orchestras for the lower bowed string voices instead.

Construction: Sharing the same body shape as its much smaller and higher pitched erhu. The sound body is rather large in size and the front face of the instrument is covered with python skin. The main fundamental difference being this was developed as an experiment for having a ‘bass erhu’ in an orchestral role. It has two strings spaced apart from each other tuned in the interval of a fifth. Its bridge is often placed somewhat above the center of the snakeskin to avoid stretching the skin.

Citations: Bibliography: Tsui Yingfai, 16 September 1998 “The Modern Chinese Folk Orchestra – A Brief History”. In Tsao Penyeh [ed.] Tradition and Change in the Performance of Chinese Music, Part 2. Routledge. pp. 22–24. ISBN 978-9057550416 ;

Dihu

Name: Dihu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Fiddles > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The [in Chinese 低胡, in pinyin: dīhú] is a large bowed string instrument from China. It has a large sound box covered on one end with snakeskin. Like most other members of the huqin family of instruments, it has two strings and is held vertically. The instrument’s name derives from “dī,” meaning “low” and “hú” short for huqin.

The dihu family was developed for orchestral use in the 1930s as lower sounding bass members of the erhu family. The erhu being the “soprano” member and the zhonghu being the alto member to increase the pitch range of the instruments used in a Chinese orchestra an to allow music with harmony to be played.

However, by the late 20th century it had largely fallen into disuse, part of the reason being that it is unwieldy to play. As the bow passes between the instrument’s two strings means that playing pizzicato is difficult; thus, the larger four-string gehu and diyingehu or cello or double bass are generally used in Chinese orchestras for the lower bowed string voices instead.

Sizes: The xiaodihu [小低胡], also called dahu or cizhonghu. It is pitched one octave below the erhu tuned D / A with its lowest D one whole step above the viola’s lowest C. It is the tenor member of the erhu family; the erhu being the soprano member and the zhonghu being the alto member.

The zhongdihu [中低胡], pitched one octave below the zhonghu, tuned G / D, as the middle strings of the cello. It is the bass member of the erhu family.

The dadihu [大低胡], pitched one octave below the xiaodihu and two octaves below the erhu; tuned D / A, with its lowest D one whole step above the cello’s lowest C. It is the contrabass member of the erhu family.

Dihu Tunings
Name Tuning
Xiaodihu [小低胡] D / A
Zhongdihu [中低胡] G / D
Dadihu [大低胡] D / A

Citations: Bibliography: Tsui Yingfai, 16 September 1998 “The Modern Chinese Folk Orchestra: A Brief History”. In Tsao Penyeh [ed.]. Tradition and Change in the Performance of Chinese Music, Part 2. Routledge. pp. 22–24. ISBN 978-9057550416 Websites:

Daguangxian

Name: Daguangxian.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Fiddles > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China & Taiwan.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The daguangxian [in simplified Chinese: 大广弦; traditional Chinese: 大廣弦; pinyin: dàguǎngxián; literally “great, broad string instrument”] is a Chinese bowed two-stringed musical instrument in the huqin family of instruments. It is used primarily in Taiwan and Fujian, among the Hakka and Min Nan peoples. It is also referred to as datongxian [大筒弦], guangxian [广弦] and daguanxian [大管弦].

Playing Techniques: The Daguangxian is held on the lap and played upright in a similar manner to the erhu.

Citations:

Sihu

Name: Sihu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Fiddles > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China, Inner-Mongolia.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The sihu [Chinese: 四胡; pinyin: sìhú] known as a ᠬᠤᠭᠤᠴᠢᠷ / Хуучир / Khuuchir in Mongolia, where this term define the whole hugin family. Is a Chinese bowed string instrument with four strings. The instrument’s name comes from the words sì 四, meaning “four” in Chinese, referring to the instrument’s number of strings. Hú 胡 is short for huqin, the family of instruments of which the sihu is a member.

Repertoire: The sihu is primarily associated with the Mongolian culture. It is played by Mongolians in Mongolia and those who reside in the Inner-Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. The Mongolians call it the Khuuchir. It is also used as a traditional instrument in the Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang provinces of China.

It is also used as an accompanying instrument in various Chinese narrative genres, including Beijing dagu, plum blossom dagu, xihe dagu, Tianjin new tunes, Shandong qin shu, Northeast dagu, Hubei song, Shaoxing lianhua luo, Shanxi er ren, Inner Mongolia er ren, northeast dance duet, lucky play, Beijing opera derived drama from ballads, Hebei Pi Ying [shadow theatre] and Henan erjiaxian traditional entertainment involving talking, singing, and drama.

Similar instruments include the Mongolian dörvön chikhtei khuur literally translates to “four eared fiddle” and the Tuvan byzaanchy. In China, dörbön chikhtei khuur [Chinese: 胡兀尔 or 都日奔齐和胡尔] is considered an alias of sihu.

Tunings: There are several sizes of sihu; this instrument is tuned fifths. From the smallest of the sizes tuned to D / D / A / A. The medium instrument is tuned too G / G / D / D and the lowest of these is generally tuned C / C / G / G ;

Sihu Tunings
Names Tunings
  D / D / A / A
  G / G / D / D
  C / C / G / G

Construction: Its soundbox and neck are made from hardwood and the playing end of the soundbox is covered with python, cow, or sheep skin.

Citations:

Wolgeum

Name: Wolgeum.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Country: Korea.
Region: Far East Asia.

Wolgeum
Wolgeum lute as described in a wood block print of the Akhak Gwebeom.

Description: Wolgeum [in hangul: 월금; hanja: 月琴 Wolgeum] a lute having a circular moon shaped body, neck and four tuning pegs and a total of 13 frets. Strings were originally of silk. This instrument is no longer used although, it was documented in the 15th century Joseon dynasty in the Akhak gwebeom.

Citations: Bibliography: Akhak gwebeom [in Hangul 악학궤범; in Hanja 樂學軌範] by Seong Hyeon 1439-1504 Historic Text ; Websites:

Jiaohu

Name: Jiaohu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Fiddles > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The jiaohu [角胡; pinyin: jiǎohú] it is a Chinese bowed stringed instrument of the huqin family. The name of the instrument derives from jiǎo [角] meaning “horn” and hú [胡] short for huqin. It is very similar in shape and its neck is length to the jinghu and erhu. Being a member of the huqin family, it is a bowed instrument, unlike the European violin the bow passes in between the strings. This approach to stringing the jiaohu is the same as the erhu. The Jiaohu is featured in Chinese operas, especially in Beijing.

Usage: As with many of the diverse instruments in China, many Huqin stringed instruments were used in feudal times to accentuate traditions, festivals, rituals and court life. Many woodwinds, drums, and stringed instruments including the Jiaohu were used in ensembles to give operas more emotional meaning. The jiaohu is used primarily by the Gelao people of the southern Chinese province of Guangxi.  

Construction: Its sound box is made from the horn of a cow. The open front end of the sound box is covered with snake skin. As with many of the diverse instruments in China.  

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:

Tuhu

Name: Tuhu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Fiddles > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The tuhu [in 土胡, pinyin: tǔhú] is a Chinese bowed string instrument in the huqin family of instruments. It is used primarily by non-Han ethnic groups of southern China, particularly the Zhuang. The Zhuang people live in the Guangxi province and use it in their bayin [八音, lit. “eight sounds”] ensemble. It is also used in Yunnan, most prominently in Funing County, Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture.

Construction: The instrument’s sound box is made from a bottle gourd, which is covered on the playing end with snake skin. The instrument has two strings that are tuned to the interval of a fifth. It is held vertically and produces a lower pitched sound than the maguhu, another southern Chinese fiddle with which it is sometimes played.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:

Tihu

Name: Tihu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Fiddles > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China.
Region: Far East-Asia.

Description: [in Chinese: 提胡 ; in Pinyin: tíhú] it is a two stringed vertical bowed instrument and as such it is a member of the huqin family a subgroup of the spike fiddles category. The tihu is played in Chaozhou xianshi music of the Chaozhou people. It is an adaptation of the gaohu used in Cantonese music.

It is used in the Chaozhou people’s original homeland of Chaozhou and Shantou, in eastern Guangdong, as well as in regions where Chaozhou people have immigrated, such as Thailand and Singapore.

Playing Techniques: The tihu is generally held with the resonator between the knees. It is considered a supporting instrument in the Chaozhou xianshi ensemble. It is tuned lower than the erxian and plays in a slower, more lyrical fashion.

Construction: It has a tubular hardwood body that is covered on the playing end with python skin.

Citations:

Erxian

Name: Erxian.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Fiddles > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China.
Geography: Far East Asia.

Description: The erxian is a two stringed bowed instrument, that is a member of the Huqin family of bowed chordophones. Similar instruments also referred to as erxian are used in Chaozhou music. Where it is called touxian 头弦 literally “leading string [instrument]” and in the nanguan music of the Southern Fujian people.

Chaozhou music where it is called touxian 头弦 literally “leading string instrument” and in the nanguan music of the Southern Fujian people. The erxian of earlier times came in two forms: one for playing bongjee / bangzi 梆子 and a slightly larger one for playing yiwong / erhuang [二黃].

History: In the early Guangdong music, the two-string is the leading instrument, also known as the “head string”, and it is also the leading instrument of the Chaozhou silk string in Chaozhou music. It is also used in the Chaozhou drum ensembles. which is unique to the same type of stringed instrument.

Fujian Nanyin was an ancient music that was handed down from the Tang Dynasty. Kaiyuan Temple in Quanzhou, Fujian Province formerly built in the Tang Dynasty, rebuilt in the Ming Dynasty Ziyun Temple Dou Gong Le 伎 wood carving has a of a flying Erxian image.

Playing Techniques: Playing the Nanyin erxian, the right hand needs to flexibly grasp the bow. And the outer string is only allowed to push the bow, the inner string is all used to pull the bow, the pronunciation is weak, simple and elegant.

Construction: The erxian in Fujian Nanyin is made of bamboo and decorated with bamboo roots as the head. The barrel is hollowed out from the whole piece of wood. Paulownia wood is used as the sound board. The tube is open and the string shaft is made of hardwood. The installation orientation is opposite to that of the erhu string shaft. It is mounted on the right side of the pole. The bow is made of bamboo poles with a ponytail, but the horsetail is relatively soft.

The erxian used by Guangdong Music and the Nanxian of Fujian differ from each other. The erxian in Guangdong music has a bamboo neck. The front end of is thick. The back end is empty. The strings are thicker. The bow is longer in length. The pronunciation is rough, and the sound is course, which characteristic of the “five heads” of Guangdong music. The tyrannical accompaniment is also commonly used in the Cantonese drama.

Erxian Tunings
Name In Chinese Tunings
Bangzi Erxian 士-工 A / E
erxian 合-尺 G / D

Citations: Bibliography: