Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Erhu in a perekhod

I took this photo in Beijing from the steps of a street underpass (called a perekhod in Russia).

The Chinese man is blind and is playing this traditional Chinese fiddle called an erhu, (pronounced are-who).They were brought by barbarians into China in the Han Dynasty (140 BC); the erhu itself was first described in the Song Dynasty (AD 420-79).

It is a two-stringed instrument, played sitting down and held vertically, with the body resting on the knee. The strings were originally of silk but are now usually steel. The small 6-sided body has a wooden resonator and a belly of python skin; the hardwood neck is long and narrow, and the hairs of the bow pass horizontally between the two strings, which are usually tuned to D and A. The horsehair bow rests on the body of the instrument and points inwards, at right angles to the normal angle of a violin bow.  Because both sides of the bow are used, both sides must be rosined.

Unlike on a western fiddle, the strings are not pressed down onto a fingerboard; exceptional bow control is needed and the finger pressure on the strings is critical. 

Both strings are fingered simultaneously, but the direction of pressure on the bow allows one or the other string to be sounded. The resulting tone is close to that of the violin, though more nasal in quality. Vibrato and trills are widely used, and the instrument is capable of great sensitivity and can be hauntingly evocative and soulful.

I was moved by this scene and the sound coming from the erhu.  But unfortuately, an elbow from a passerby got in the picture.

I have no experience using Photo Shop but through trial and error, I has able to remove the elbow.  My efforts aren't perfect, but I decided to stop because I didn't think further efforts would make it better.  

But I am now adding the result into my "BEST PHOTOS" file.


GETkristiLOVE said...

Well "er" with a falling tone means two (for the strings?) and "hu", depending on the tone can mean jug or vessel of some sort. So I bet that's how it got it's name...?

Nice photoshop work!

dguzman said...

Nicely photo-shopped! I never would've guessed!

And GKL knows Chinese language roots? That woman never ceases to amaze me.