Tuhu

Name: Tuhu.
Type: Chordophones > Composites > Lutes > Spiked > Huqins.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Tuning: A / E or D / A.
Area: Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guangxi counties, Yunnan Province Wenshan Zhuang, Miao Autonomous Prefecture Funing County
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The [in Chinese: 土胡; in Pinyin; Tǔ hú] the tuhu is a member of the huqin family of bowed lutes. It is a bowed instrument that is played by the Zhuang people. The tuhu is popular in several regions, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guangxi counties, Yunnan Province Wenshan Zhuang, Miao Autonomous Prefecture Funing County and other places.

The tuhu often played in the Zhuang ethnic group’s “eight-tone” band ensemble or accompaniment for Zhuang drama, and it can also be used for self-entertainment. It is commonly known as “mother Hu” or “houhu” [thick tone]. When performing a duet of huluhu in an ensemble. The strings are named “positive Hu” or “anti-Hu”.

The tuhu is played in national festivals or folk celebrations. Although there is no particular affiliation to this musical instrument. The tuhu is mostly played in Zhuangju music. The tuhu is good at playing smooth lyrical, euphemistic melodies. It plays “Good Luck” in eight octave with maguhu, with harmonious tone, plump and thick and certain expressiveness.

Etymology: The tuhu is named in reference for using homemade materials. The tuhu is also called Muhu or Houhu. The shape is unique and the sound is thick, which is mostly used for ensemble or accompaniment.

Playing Techniques: Musicians usually play this instrument while sitting a in a cross-legged position. The neck of the instrument is vertically positioned. It is held by the left hand, the index finger, middle finger, ring finger and little finger are all utilized in the playing of this instrument.

The ensemble range is A-A2 with two octaves. The common range is A-A1 when accompaniment for Zhuang drama. The sound is solid and the tone is thick, which belongs to the midrange stringed instrument.

Construction: The tuhu is constructed from several materials; having three strings the neck is cylindrical and the body is assembled like a Lyra. Most tuhu are made by local artists on the spot, using a dry gourd cut from the thin end. Or two sections of gourd cut from the middle.

The head and poles are made of a whole piece of red toon, mulberry or pine. Having a total length of 80 cm to 90 cm. The top is slightly bent backwards, and a rectangular string groove is opened below. The tuning peg peg is wooden, conical, with a shaft length of 10 cm.

With the snake skin as the face, it becomes a hemispherical barrel with slightly smaller ends. A larger centre having a length of 8 cm to 10 cm, a circumference of 12 cm to 16 cm, and the diameter of the front of the tuhu is 8 cm to 10 cm. Often carved with five-pointed star or petal-shaped sound window.

The neck is engraved with straight petals. The neck is cylindrical is  support string, without any weight, and the lower end is inserted into the neck and the string is exposed. A hollow wooden bridge is placed above the centre of the leather surface. Stretch two wire strings or wire strings.

In recent years, a support has been added under the body. The bow is made of fine bamboo and firewood and the horsetail is used as the bow hair at both end. The over all length of the bow is approximately 70 cm.

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