Alternate Name(s): Chinese fiddle
Geographic Region: East Asia
Country of origin: China
Time period: 1920s-
Definition: High-pitched two-stringed fiddle
SvH No.: 321.313
The gaohu is a high-pitched Chinese two-stringed fiddle, a member of the huqin family (see erhu). Its structure is very similar to the erhu, except the gaohu's body is slightly smaller and has no back close piece (yin chuang). In the second half of the twentieth century, some musicians have added a small bamboo tube inside the gaohu's body, making the sound in the high position even brighter. The gaohu pictured here is one such instrument.
The gaohu is a rather recent invention derived from the erhu. It was created in the 1920s by Lu Wencheng (1898-1981), a well-known Cantonese music musician and composer. Lu changed the original silk strings to steel strings, and also adopted the playing position of holding the gaohu's body in between the knees.
The gauhu's tuning, a1-e2 or g1-d2, is a fifth or a fourth higher than that of the erhu. The gaohu has a range of three octaves as well (a1 to e4 or g1 to d4).
The gaohu is held in between the knees to reduce unwanted noise. The Gaohu's timbre, high and sharp, makes it suitable for lyrical, quick or ornamented melodies. For its bowing (right hand) and fingering (left hand) techniques, see erhu.
Closely related to the Guangdong province, the gaohu, with its distinct timbre, is associated with a distinct regional identity. It is used mostly in Cantonese music ensembles, Chaozhou music ensembles, as well as in accompanying Cantonese opera and Chao opera. In addition, it is also used as a solo instrument and as "first violin" in the modern Chinese instrumental orchestra.
Liu, Dongsheng, ed. 1992. Zhongguo Yueqi Tu Jian (A Pictorial Guide for
Chinese Music Instruments). Jinan: Shangdong Jiaoyu Chuban She.
Last Modified: 05-May-2005TOP