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

Description: The sihu [in Chinese: 四胡; in 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.

Usage: 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 [in 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
Medium G G D D
Lowest 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.


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