Tag Archives: Chordophones

Chordophones

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 ;

Jinghu

Name: Jinghu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.
Specimens: 2 in collection.
Acquisition Source: Rufus Guitars, Kitsilano, Vancouver B.C. Canada.

Description: The jinghu [京胡; pinyin: jīnghú] it is one of the smallest instruments in the huqin family. Primarily played in Beijing Opera. It is the smallest member of the huqin family played by the Han Chinese. It is known by the general term huqin or hu ch’in, which refers to stringed instruments in general though most often fiddles. This produces an especially bright and nasal sound considered ideal for theatre music.

For this reason the jinghu is best known as the main melody instrument for Beijing opera [‘jing’ references ‘Beijing,’ ‘hu’ means ‘fiddle’]. The jinghu has also been appropriated by some regional village ensembles for use in opera mimicry and other folk styles of music. The increased popularity of Beijing opera has led to its more prevalent use in these folk genres.

Construction: The jinghu shares much in common with other huqins like the erhu in its basic construction. The Jinghu includes a body, neck or shaft and two friction tuning pegs.  A small bridge is inserted underneath the two strings. Two slit holes in ovoid shape are cut into the bottom of the shaft prior to inserting the shaft into the sound chamber. The use of steel strings for the jinghu is quite common, creating a nasal sound.

The body of the jinghu is quite small, cut from a piece of a bamboo. A membrane of python skin is stretched over creating the body. The backside of the resonator remains open. The strings are looped over a metal tail pin installed on the bottom side of the resonator.

Citations: Bibliography: Liu, Terence M. 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 ;  Jones, Stephen. 1995. Folk Music of China: Living Instrumental Traditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press ; Pian, Rulan Chao 2002 “Peking Opera: Jingju.” In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music v. 7. ed. Robert C. Provine, Yosihiko Tokumaru and J. Lawrence Witzleben. New York: Routledge, pp.281-287 ; Thrasher, Alan R. 1984. “Jinghu [ching-hu].” NGDMI v.2: 329. 2000 Chinese Musical Instruments. Oxford: Oxford University Press ; Yung, Bell. 2002 “Chinese Opera: An Overview.” 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. 275-280. Websites: Grinnell College Of Musical Instruments ;

Kezaixian

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

Description: The kezaixian [in Chinese: 殼仔絃; in POJ: khak-á-hiân] is a bowed string instrument in the huqin family originating in China. More specifically a type of yehu, it is a two-stringed fiddle and is used in Taiwan opera

Construction: Traditionally the Kezaixian is constructed with a coconut body.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:

Tuhu

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

Description: The tuhu [in Chinese 土胡, in 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: