ErHu is one of the most popular and well-known Chinese instruments in the Hu-qin (a generic term for Chinese fiddles) family.  It is a two-stringed fiddle with a small body made of hard wood. The role of an ErHu is very much similar to that of a violin, in the western orchestra. 


If ErHu is known as a Chinese violin, then Zhong-Hu must then be known as the Chinese viola. e It was developed on the basis of Erhu in the 1940s. The structures and performing skills of both ErHu and ZhongHU are rather similar. ZhongHu, who has a deeper-sounding timbre but not as agile, is more suitable for singing melodies (particularly some Mongolian melodies).



GaoHu is also known as High-pitched Erhu. It is especially designed for playing Cantonese folk melodies and operas. GaoHu is often used for performing vivid and brisk rhythms, particularly for higher-pitched tunes that is out of the range for ErHu. In comparison with Erhu, Gao-Hu has louder volume yet brighter tones, and thus it serves both as solo and leading instrument in performing Cantonese operas and folk melodies.




Principally used as accompanying instrument for Beijing Opera, Jing-Hu is another important two-stringed fiddle in the Huqin family. The pitch of JingHu is the highest among all instruments of the Hu-qin family. Due to its forceful and clarion timbre, Jing-Hu is suitable almost exclusively for Beijing opera.





Ban-Hu is usually the leading accompanying instrument for Bang-Zi (Clapper Opera) and other northern tunes or ballads, particularly for the local operas in Henan Province, central China. The BanHu gets its name from the wooden sounding board in its soundbox. The timbre of BanHu is clarion and bright, thus making it hard to join other instruments for tutti. Therefore it's usually for solo, especially for presenting joyful and passionate moods.

‘Ye’ means coconut. YeHu is a two stringed bowed instrument similar to ErHu. It is found mostly in South China and Taiwan.

A four stringed huqin used for accompanying local opera, commonly found in the North.  It is sometimes performed together with Dizi and YangQin ogether with Dizi, YangQin. The structure is similar to Erhu except that it has four strings. The horse-hair of the bow is divided into two group that go between the four strings.

ZhuiHu is one of the most popular instruments in Henan and Shandong Provinces, used for local opera and story-telling. The striking difference between Erhu and Zhuihu is - ZhuiHu has a fretless fingerboard similar to SanXian. The use of the bow is similar to that of ErHu. It is made to produce beautiful sounds with a strong local flavour, capable of imitating a lot of natural sounds such as birds and horse etc. The ZhuiHu is one of the most beautiful instruments of the Huqin family, which has become very popular soon after its invention in Henan and Shandong.


Ma Tou Qin

The Morin Khur or horse-headed violin is a typical Mongolian bowed instrument with two strings. It is, however, very different from ErHu. The horse hair of the bow doesn't go between the two strings, instead, the instrument and the way of playing is more similar to cello than to ErHu. The music played upon this instrument is of great variety and virtuosity. The music produced  typically sounds like human voice, such as low beautiful humming or sad weepy murmuring. It can also imitate a horse to such an extent as real such as galloping horse, the whinnying, etc. The modern Morin Khur has a wooden body and soundboard, 2 horse hair strings, and has a rich warm tone and very beautiful sound. The peghead is decorated with a detailed carving of a horse's head.

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ompiled by Boon Sin Ler

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