Erhu vs. Huqin

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Erhu and Huqin is that the Erhu is a Chinese two-stringed musical instrument and Huqin is a family of bowed string instruments, more specifically, a spike fiddle popularly used in Chinese music.

  • Erhu

    The erhu (Chinese: 二胡; pinyin: èrhú; [aɻ˥˩xu˧˥]), or urheen, is a two-stringed bowed musical instrument, more specifically a spike fiddle, which may also be called a Southern Fiddle, and sometimes known in the Western world as the Chinese violin or a Chinese two-stringed fiddle.

    It is used as a solo instrument as well as in small ensembles and large orchestras. It is the most popular of the huqin family of traditional bowed string instruments used by various ethnic groups of China. As a very versatile instrument, the erhu is used in both traditional and contemporary music arrangements, such as in pop, rock and jazz.

  • Huqin

    Huqin (Chinese: 胡琴; pinyin: húqín) is a family of bowed string instruments, more specifically, a spike fiddle popularly used in Chinese music. The instruments consist of a round, hexagonal, or octagonal sound box at the bottom with a neck attached that protrudes upwards. They also usually have two strings, and their soundboxes are typically covered with either snakeskin (most often python) or thin wood. Huqin instruments usually have two tuning pegs, one peg for each string. The pegs are attached horizontally through holes drilled in the instrument’s neck. Most huqin have the bow hair pass in between the strings. Exceptions to having two strings and pegs include variations of huqin with three, four, and sometimes even more than five. These include the zhuihu, a three stringed huqin, the sihu, a huqin of Mongolian origin, and the sanhu, a lesser-known three-stringed variation.

    The most common huqin are the erhu, which are tuned to a middle range; zhonghu, which is tuned to a lower register, and gaohu, which is tuned to a higher pitch. The lowest pitched huqins include the dahu and gehu. The highest pitched huqin is the jinghu, used in the Beijing opera. Over eighty types of huqin instruments have been documented.

    Huqin instruments are believed to have come from the nomadic Hu people, who lived on the extremities of ancient Chinese kingdoms, possibly descending from an instrument called the Xiqin (奚琴), originally played by the Mongolic Xi tribe. Like the people of China, Mongolian people also have cultural and ethnic heritage of the ancient Hu nomads, and the Mongol version of the xiqin, known as the khuuchir, is testament to this shared heritage.In the 20th century, large bass huqin such as the dihu, gehu, and diyingehu were developed for use in modern Chinese orchestras. Of these, the gehu and diyingehu would be analogous to Occidental cellos and double basses respectively, and were designed to have a timbre that would blend in with the sound of traditional huqin. These instruments generally have four strings and fingerboards, and are played in a similar manner to cellos and double basses, and are very different from the traditional huqin.

    Similar instruments also feature in the music traditions of neighboring countries, such as Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

  • Erhu (noun)

    A type of bowed spike fiddle having two strings, originating in China as part of the huqin family of string instruments.

  • Huqin (noun)

    Any of a family of vertical bowed lutes used in Chinese music.


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