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An Introduction to the Erhu



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The erhu was brought into Singapore by our ancestors from mainly the Fujian, Chao Zhou, and Guangdong provinces.

The soulful tones and joyous notes of the erhu is usually heard

at night, as our forefathers play them after work or among friends in the clan associations.

In the 50s, interest in the erhu started to pick up, mainly because it was played over

the radio stations, such as Rediffusion. Culture groups then started to spring up and people

started to learn, play and teach. That was when the erhu became really popular among

the young and old in Singapore. With a history of over 50 years in Singapore, the erhu can

still be heard, played by elderly buskers around Singapore.

Hi, I'm Sung Wah from Eason Music School and today, I'm going to introduce you, three instruments

from the Hu Qing family. In my hand, is the most popular and most commonly used, the Erhu.

It's tuned in DA. Next, we have the Gaohu, the Gaohu in Chinese means high and the pitch

is higher than the Erhu. It is tuned in GD. Lastly, we have the Zhonghu, the Zhonghu is

tuned in a lower pitch compared to the Erhu and the Gaohu.

Now I'm going to introduce to you, the different parts of the Erhu. First, this is the headstock,

these two are the pegs. What the pegs do is they tune your instrument. For example, when

I'm playing the outer strings, when I turn it, the pitch changes.

This is the QianJing, it is a very important part of the instrument.

This is the resonator of the Erhu. And as you can see, this material here is made from python skin. They like to use python skin

because python skin is very elastic. So the sound it produces is very good. But recently,

there have been technology advancements, and people have been trying to use synthetic skin

instead of using python skin. But the effect is not as good as python skin. Still, the

sound of python skin on a Erhu is much better. Then you see here, this small little thing

is called the bridge. And followed by this cloth here, is called the damper.

This is called the bow, the bow is actually lodged in between the two strings, and the bow is

made out of bamboo, and the hair here is made of horsetail hair.

The most commonly used materials for the Erhu is rosewood and ebony and sandalwood.

The Erhu is played using the left hand and right hand. The right hand is focused on bowing.

And this is how long notes sound like.

And this is how short notes sound like.

The left hand is to control the pitch of the instrument.

There are different techniques of the Erhu. One of them would be the slides.

The second technique would be the vibrato.

Now I'm going to play you a National Day song called 'Home' by Kit Chan.