Name: Erxian.
Type: Chordophones > Fiddles > Huqins.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China.
Region: 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].

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.

Usage: Currently, the erxian is used for accompanying the singing of dai-hau [大喉] characters in Cantonese opera as well as all roles in gu-hong Cantonese opera [古腔粵劇]. Other instruments used in conjunction with the erxian are the juktaikam / zhutiqin [竹提琴], yueqin [yuetkam], sanxian [samyin] and doontong / duantong 短筒.

Together, this grouping of instruments is called the “hard bow ensemble” 硬弓. The name “hard bow” comes from the fact that both the erxian and tiqin are/should be played with a bow made of a thick, hard piece of bamboo rather than a thinner and softer reed like modern huqin bows.

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.

A bangzi erxian is tuned to the interval of a fifth 士-工 / la-mi / A-e
An erxian is tuned to the interval of a fifth 合-尺 / so-re / G-d

Citations: Bibliography:

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