The Music of China – the Erhu

September 25, 2012

An erhu is a Chinese two-stringed instrument similar to a fiddle. The erhu has a thin, slightly reedy sound. Since the erhu is so widely used, foreigners see it as an example of Chinese music.

The erhu

However, once you recognize the sound of an erhu, it can usually be readily picked out from other musical instruments, because it is unique.

The history of the erhu spans more than a thousand years. The first erhu was heard during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD).

Since the traditional Chinese character for “erhu” indicates it has two strings, the erhu has probably changed little over the centuries. Alternate names for the erhu include huqin or hu, and Westerners sometimes call the instrument a “Chinese violin”.

If you enjoyed learning about and listening to the erhu, discover Mao Wei-Tao’s Chinese Yu Opera

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China


The Sheng, one of China’s Oldest Musical Instruments

August 23, 2010

According to one source, the Sheng dates back as far as 1200 BC. Many Westerners also call it a “Chinese mouth organ”.

An early Sheng was discovered in Hubei Province in a Zeng royal tomb dating back 2400 years to the Zhou Dynasty (1111-222 BC).

 The Sheng has also been found in Han tombs in Hunan province.

The Sheng is a wind instrument with a bundle of between 17 and 37 pipes. Music is made by blowing and/or sucking the air through a tube connected to the base.  The tubes are connected to shape like a gourd.

This instrument predates the organ, concertina, harmonica and accordion.

One source says that most modern shengs have 17 pipes that produce crisp, melodious tones using a chromatic scale.  Source: Sheng (instrument) – Wiki

If you want to learn more about Chinese music, see the Jing-Hu

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

Sign up for an RSS Feed for iLook China


The Dizi, a Chinese bamboo flute

May 29, 2010

The Dizi is a traditional Chinese musical instrument that was popular during the Warring States period (472-221 BC) and was used in opera during the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties.

There are two opinions about where the Dizi came from. Official Imperial documents say that a messenger for Han Emperor Wudi brought one with him from western China in 199 BC.

Chen Yue – “Touching Dizi”

However, older bone and bamboo flutes have been found in ancient tombs. One was found in an Eastern Han tomb (206BC – 9 AD).  Several bone flutes were found in Zhejiang province and more than thirty flutes have been found that were nine thousand years old.  The number of holes varies.

Discover more about Chinese music. See the Gu Zheng

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China


The Gu Zheng

May 19, 2010

While at the 6th  Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration in San Francisco on Saturday, May 15, I saw my first Gu Zheng. No one was playing it. The band was playing with other instruments, but this stringed instrument was silent as if it had been abandoned.

The modern-day Gu Zheng has movable bridges and may have 15 to 26 strings. In ancient times, the strings were made of twisted silk, but by the 20th Century most players use metal strings (generally steel for the high strings and copper-wound steel for the bass strings).

The Guzhen has been around since The Warring Kingdoms (402-221 B.C.). I invite you to join me and listen to Bei Bei playing Under the White Wind. 

If you enjoyed Bei Bei’s performance, discover the Jing-Hu.

_________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

Sign up for an RSS Feed for iLook China