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: