二胡 – The Erhu

After nearly 10 years of wanting one, I finally placed an order for my first ehru. To celebrate, I will dedicate this post to this remarkable instrument.  The erhu (二胡 pronounced êɻxǔ) is an ancient Chinese bowed-string instrument.  It has two strings (D and A above), between which the bow is trapped.  Here is perhaps the most famous erhu piece:

The milky sound comes from the resonation panel, which is made of dried, stretched python skin instead of wood.  To truly appreciate the subtlety of the timbre, I recommend you listen to a familiar violin piece performed with an erhu, such as the 2nd movement from Carmen’s Fantasy:

I only wish my movements were a beautiful.

While erhus have become very popular solo instruments, they are also used in ensembles and orchestras.  This beautiful performance uses an orchestra of almost entirely ancient Chinese instruments:

There are some absolutely incredible instruments in there.  I honestly thought going into it I would be able to name everything I saw.  That was until those organ-horn things knocked me off my high horse.  I have to look into those some day.

The erhu is also used in more modern performances.  Now, if I were reading this I would probably stop right here.  But, unlike Europe, there are lots of modern Chinese musicians that continue their ancient musical tradition:

Not only is the music nice; but the videography highlights how to play the instrument.  She has several other videos (tracks).  Check out the right-hand column for more.

女子十二乐坊 – 12 Girls Band

You might also check out 12 Girls Band, who perform ancient and modern music using traditional Chinese instruments.  Here they perform a classic Turkish folk tune:

They also perform Baroque:

And even a medley of classical tunes put to 1970’s porn rhythms:

The videographer in this video was a dipshit.

Their first couple of US releases (Romantic Energy and Eastern Energy) we decent CDs and can be found on Amazon.com.

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