Chinese Classical Instruments: The Erhu and Guzheng


The Erhu

As we await to hear the exciting program for we thought we’d share some of the history behind the traditional Chinese instruments featured in this Saturday’s concert From the Eastern Gate at Centenary United Church.

The erhu is a two-stringed bowed musical instrument and is known in the Western world as the “Chinese violin” or a “Chinese two-stringed fiddle.” The use of the erhu can be traced back to thousands of years ago. The erhu has a long neck with two tuning pegs at the top and two strings that extend to the base of the instrument. There is a drum-like resonator body at the bottom of the neck which is covered in python skin. Used in contemporary and traditional music, the erhu has a range similar to that of the human voice and is featured in national orchestras of China. It’s most well known for playing melodic tunes, but lends itself well to a variety of musical styles and genres.


The Guzheng

The Guzheng

The guzheng is a 21-stringed zither, which is an instrument that has strings stretched over movable bridges across a long, flat body. Originally made with silk strings, contemporary guzhengs now have strings made from metal-nylon. The instrument is usually plucked with shells of hawksbill. There are many ways to play the guzheng, one of which includes using the right hand to pluck while the left hand presses on the strings on the other side of the bridges to produce a vibrato or slide effect. The guzheng plays an important role in Chinese folk music and was the precursor to many instruments in the Asian zither family.


Experience the erhu before From the Eastern Gate by listening to the Beijing Symphony Orchestra perform Ehru Concerto.



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