What is an Erhu?

The erhu has a history that can be traced back in China for more than a thousand years. It probably evolved from the xiqin which is believed to have originated from the Xi people of Central Asia, and who came to China in the 10th century.

二胡在中国的历史可以追溯到一千多年前, 它被认为是由奚琴演变而来的,奚琴被认为起源于中亚的奚人,并于 10 世纪来到中国。

The first Chinese character of the name of the instrument (, èr, two) is believed to come from the fact that it has two strings. Another explanation states that it comes from the fact that it is the second highest in pitch of the instruments in the huqin family of instruments in the modern Chinese orchestra. The second character (, hú) indicates that it is a member of the huqin family. The name huqin literally means “barbarian instrument”, showing that the instrument likely originated from regions to the north or west of China inhabited by non-Han peoples.

乐器名称的第一个汉字(二,èr,2)意为两根弦的乐器。 另一种解释为它是现代民族管弦乐队的胡琴家族中属第二高的音域。 第二个汉字(胡,hú)表示它是胡琴家族的成员。 胡琴的字面意思是“蛮族乐器”,表明该乐器很可能起源于胡人(中国北部或西部的非汉族聚居地区)。

The erhu might be described as a two-string version of the western Violin. But with it’s snake skin covered resonator, it has a distinctly different tone. Other members of the huqin family include the ZhongHu (lower voice, like a viola) and the BanHu (very high pitched voice).

二胡也被人们描述为两根弦的中国小提琴。 由于它用蛇皮覆盖的共鸣器,它发出的音色非常独特。 胡琴家族的其他成员包括中胡(低音,像中提琴)和板胡(非常高的声音)。

Erhu Neck
Erhu with bow
Resonator and Bridge

The neck of the erhu is in the shape of a long vertical stick. There are two tuning pegs on the top. At the bottom is a resonator covered in python skin on the front. Two strings extend from the peg to the base. A small loop of chord (qian jin) is wrapped around both the neck and the two strings. This pulls the strings toward the skin and hold a small wooden bridge in place. The Erhu is played with a bow that is captured between the two strings. There is no fingerboard.

二胡垂直的琴杆顶部有两个琴轴用于调音, 底部共鸣器琴筒的前口覆盖着蟒皮, 两根弦从琴轴延伸至底座, 琴杆和两根弦上缠绕着一个小圈(千金 ), 琴弦从琴轴往蟒皮和琴码处延伸并固定到位, 二胡是用一根弓子夹在两根弦之间演奏的,没有指板。