erhu

Musical instrument
Since the 1950s, erhu has been the name used to refer to most Chinese two-stringed wooden bowed lutes with a slender neck that bores through a hexagonal resonator covered with snakeskin and a bow with the horsehair permanently inserted in between the instrument’s two strings. Before then, these and similar type instruments were generally called huqin (‘barbarian stringed instrument’), in reference to their origin in areas beyond China’s northern and western frontiers. The erhu has traditionally figured in the performance of regional operatic, narrative and ensemble music.
It was only in the twentieth century that it became a solo instrument. In the 1920s, composers such as Liu Tianhua (1895–1932) and Hua Yanjun (1893–1950, better known as Abing) began composing music that showcased the great level of expressiveness the instrument is capable of. Their music ushered in the national style (guoyue) that emerged after the 1940s and transformed the erhu into a virtuoso instrument. Modern erhu compositions essentially combined Chinese melodies with Western violin techniques. Left-hand techniques of fingering and positioning include pitch glides, trills and grace notes, while right-hand bowing techniques include tremolos and pizzicati.
MERCEDES M.DUJUNCO

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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