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Music & Artists

Angel Lam holding a score and explaining a concept to bassist Jeffrey Beecher

© PETE CHECCHIA

Composer at Work
Composer Angel Lam rehearses her composition Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain with Jeffrey Beecher at a commissioning workshop at Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts. Collaboration between composers and performers is a hallmark of the Silk Road Project's commissioning process.


Erhu

© TARA TODRAS-WHITEHILL


Erhu

orig. China  The erhu is a spike fiddle with two strings. It has a long neck and a round, hexagonal, octagonal or tubular body made of wood and covered with the skin of a python or other snake. Historically, the strings were made of twisted silk, but are now more often made of metal. The bow used to play the erhu is made of horsehair strung on a stick of bamboo. In performance, the erhu is held in the player's left hand and supported on the left thigh while the right hand moves the bow.

Instruments similar to the erhu have been prevalent in Chinese music since the 12th century C.E. The fiddle's fine, lyrically expressive sound has made it a popular solo instrument in small folk and classical ensembles and in contemporary Chinese orchestras. The erhu is part of a group of Chinese bowed instruments known as huqin, meaning "foreign string instrument," which suggests that this type of instrument may have been introduced to China from elsewhere.


Hear the instrument
Erhu sound clip »


Erhu players
Betti Xiang


Other string instruments
Cello
Contrabass
Harp
Kamancheh
Kayagum
Morin khuur
Oud
Piano
Pipa
Ruan
Santur

Tar
Viola
Violin


Other Chinese instruments
Bawu
Pipa
Ruan
Sheng