Category Archives: Huqins

huqins

Leiqin

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

Description: The Leiqin [in Chinese: 擂琴 or 擂琴 ; in Pinyin: léiqín, literal translation means “thundering instrument”] is also called leihu, which appeared during the 1920s. It was designed by a civilian artist named Wang Dianyu in imitation of another kind of musical instrument named zhuihu. He was born in a poor family in Shandong province.

History: When he was young, he went blind from smallpox. However, he showed diligence and talent in learning to perform many musical instruments including zhuihu. At the end of the 1920s, he made great changes to zhuihu. The shaft was lengthened. The length of the body was expanded, which was covered with the skin of boa. The new instrument became louder and the range was increased. In 1953, it was called “leiqin” formally.

At the end of the 1920s, he made great changes to the pre-existing zhuihu. The shaft was lengthened, and the sound box was expanded. Whose membrane was boa skin was then applied. The new instrument became louder, and the range was increased. In 1953, it was called “leiqin” formally.

Playing Techniques: The performers should sit while playing. The canister is put on the left leg, with the left hand pressing the strings and a bow in the right hand plucking. In most cases, the performer uses his or her index finger and the third finger to press the strings. The Leiqin has a wide range, a high volume and a soft tone.

It can perform solo, concert and in ensemble. Additionally, it can produce sound in imitation of human voices, arias of the Chinese operas, calling of the animals and the sound effect of the orchestral and percussion instruments such as the urhien, gong, drum and so on.

Construction: The instrument is assembled of five parts. The shaft, head and tuning page are made of hardwood. The head is like a shovel. The surface of the tuning page is carved. The canister is made of copperplate. The bow is longer than that of the urhien. There are two specifications of leiqin. The longer instrument measures at 110 cm at the length of the neck from sound body to head-stock. While the the shorter sized leiqin is measured at 90 cm in length.

Usually, the instrument is tuned according to the preferences of the performers. There may be three and half octaves within the range. The range of the small leiqin is the same as the big one, which is one octave higher than the latter.

Citations: Websites: Leiqin article / wayback machine ;

Dihu

Name: Dihu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
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.

History: 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. A 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. In Chinese orchestras the larger gehu and diyingehu or cello or double bass are favoured due in part to the accessibility of strings when the instruments are played.

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:

Banhu

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

Description: The banhu [in Chinese: 板胡, pinyin: bǎnhú] is a Chinese traditional bowed string instrument in the huqin family of instruments. It is used primarily in northern China. Ban means a piece of wood and hu is short for huqin.

The banhu is sometimes also called “banghu” because it is often used in bangzi opera of northern China, such as Qinqiang from Shaanxi province. Like its more familiar erhu counterpart the banhu also only has two strings. It is held vertically upright and the bow passes in between the two strings. The yehu, another type of Chinese fiddle with a coconut body and wooden face, is used primarily in southern China.

Construction: The banhu differs in construction from the erhu in that its soundbox is generally made from a coconut shell rather than wood, and instead of a snakeskin that is commonly used to cover the faces of huqin instruments, the banhu uses a thin wooden board.

Citations:

Jiaohu

Name: Jiaohu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Huqins.
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:

Maguhu

Name: Maguhu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Huqins.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Tuning: D / A.
Country: Guangxi Province, China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The maguhu [in Chinese: Traditional 馬骨胡; simplified: 马骨胡; pinyin: mǎgǔhú] is a Chinese bowed string instrument in the huqin family of musical instruments. It is used in the ensemble that accompanies guiju [桂剧; Guangxi opera and is also used in the bayin [八音] ensemble of the Zhuang people along with the tuhu, huluhu, sanxian, drums, cymbals and other instruments.

Etymology: The instrument’s name is derived from the Chinese words mǎ gǔ, meaning “horse bone” and hú is short for huqin. The maguhu is used primarily by the Zhuang and Buyei peoples of the southern Chinese province of Guangxi.

Construction: The maguhu is classified as a huqin as it meets the basic criteria. Having a neck of 46 cm to 60 cm in length vertically inserted into the soundbox. The maguhu has two strings tuned to the interval of a fourth D and A.

The sound box is made from the femur bone of a horse or alternatively a cow or mule. The front end of the sound box is covered with a membrane of snake, shark or frog skin. The end of the neck is carved in the shape of a horse’s head.

Citations: Websites: Chinese Language article from e56.com.cn ;

Huluhu

Name: Huluhu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spiked > Huqins > Bowed.
Bayin: 絲 Silk
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The huluhu [in Chinese: traditional 葫蘆胡; simplified 葫芦胡; pinyin: húlúhú]; It is used primarily by the Zhuang people of the southern Chinese province of Guangxi. The name of this instrument is derived from the Chinese words húlú [“gourd”] and hú [short for huqin].

As such it belongs to the Huqin family of bowed stringed instruments. Having two strings, its sound box is made from a gourd. With a face made of thin wood.

Citations:

Gehu

Name: Gehu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Tuning: C G D A
Inventor: Yang Yusen 杨 雨 森 [1926 – d. 1980].
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The gehu [in Chinese; 革胡 in pinyin: géhú] is a Chinese instrument developed in the 20th century by the Chinese musician Yang Yusen [杨 雨 森, b. 1926 d. 1980]. It is a hybrid of the Chinese Huqin family and cello. The four string of the gehu are tuned the same as the cello C / G / D / A. Unlike most of the bowed instruments in the huqin family. Bridge does not come into contact with the snakeskin which faces the other side.

A contrabass version of the gehu also exists; it functions as a double bass. Known as the diyingehu, digehu or beigehu [倍 革 胡]. By the late 20th century the gehu had become a rare instrument, even within China.

There is a tendency for the snakeskin to lose its tightness increases with humidity. Today, it is used mostly in Hong Kong and Taiwan, although even there, the cello is beginning to become a popular replacement for it.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Wayback Machine / Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra ;

Erhu

Name: Erhu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Tuning: D / A.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.
Specimens: 1 in collection.
Manufacturer: Original manufacturer based in Shanghai, China.
Acquisition Source: Ian MacKenzie, Singapore.

Description: The erhu [in Chinese: 二胡; pinyin: èrhú; IPA ɑɻ˥˩xu˧˥] is a two-stringed bowed musical instrument. Classified as a spike fiddle, in which it may also be called a “southern fiddle”. The erhu is played as a solo instrument, it is also played 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. A very versatile instrument, the erhu is used in both traditional and contemporary music arrangements, such as in pop, rock and jazz.

History: The erhu has its origins from an ancient instrument called the xiqin [奚 琴]. The xiqin is believed to have originated from the Xi people of Central Asia, and have come to China in the 10th century. The first Chinese character of the name of the instrument [二, èr, two].

Playing Techniques: The characteristic sound of the erhu is produced by the vibration of the python skin by bowing. The sound is transmitted from bow when coming into contact by friction from bow to string. The player stops the strings by pressing their fingertips onto the strings without the strings touching the neck. The strings are placed very close together so they can come into contact on either string to produce sound during performance.

Tuning: The inside string [nearest to player] is generally tuned to D4 and the outside string to A4, a fifth higher. The maximum range of the instrument is three and a half octaves, from D4 up to A7, before a stopping finger reaches the part of the string in contact with the bow hair. The usual playing range is about two and a half octaves.

Construction: The Erhu consists of a long vertical neck. At the top of the instrument in place of tuners, there are two large wooden tuning pegs. A small resonator, body [or sound box] is covered with python skin over the front creating the entire body. Two strings are attached from the pegs to the base, and a small loop of string [Qian Jin] placed around the neck and strings acting as a nut pulls the strings towards the skin, holding a small wooden bridge in place.

Citations: Bibliography: Stock, Jonathan. “A Historical Account of the Chinese Two-Stringed Fiddle Erhu.” Galpin Society Journal, v. 46 March 1993, p. 85-103 ; Terence M. Liu 2002 “Instruments: Erhu” In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music v. 7. East Asia. ed. Robert C. Provine, Yosihiko Tokumaru, and J. Lawrence Witzleben. New York: Routledge, pp. 175-178 ;  Thrasher, Alan R. 1984. “Erhu” NGDMI v.1: 717 ; 2000. Chinese Musical Instruments. Oxford: Oxford University Press ; Witzleben, J. Lawrence. 1995 ; Silk and Bamboo’ Music in Shanghai. Kent: Kent State, University Press ; Grinnell College Of Music / Erhu ;

Erxian

Name: Erxian.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
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:

Tiqin

Name: Tiqin.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Tuning: E / A.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The tiqin [in Mandarin Chinese: 提琴; pinyin: tíqín] is a name applied to several two-stringed Chinese bowed string musical instruments in the huqin family of instruments. They are primarily played in Kungku Opera, Cantonese Music and Fujian in Taiwan.

Tiqin in Cantonese Music: Alternatively known as a zhutiqin [竹提琴] is a member of the “hard bow” [硬弓] ensemble in Cantonese opera. Its neck is made of hardwood, often suanzhi [酸枝, rosewood] or zitan [紫檀, red sandalwood]. The zhutiqin’s sound chamber is made of a very large section of bamboo larger than that of the erxian, another bowed string instrument used in Cantonese music.

Instead of snakeskin, the face is made of a piece of tong wood [桐, Firmiana simplex] or palm wood like the face of a yehu. The back of the sound chamber is made of the natural joint in bamboo, with sound holes cut in it. The tiqin used today in Cantonese opera is tuned to 仜-士 / mi-la / E-a the opposite of the erxian, which is tuned A-e.

Tiqin Tunings
Names in Chinese Tunings
  仜-士 E a

Additionally, the term tiqin is used in Chinese as a generic term referring to Western bowed string instruments of the violin family:

Tiqin Family
Name in Chinese Family
Xiao Tiqin 小提琴 Violin
Zhong Tiqin 中提琴 Viola
Da Tiqin 大提琴 Cello
Diyin Tiqin 低音提琴 Double Bass

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: The Met / Tiqin Article ;