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date: 14 November 2019

Erxian [erh-hsien]locked

  • Alan R. Thrasher
  •  and Jonathan P.J. Stock



Two-string fiddle of the Han Chinese (er: ‘two’; xian: ‘string’). Two quite different variants survive on the south-east coast of China and in Taiwan. The erxian of the Minnan sub-culture has a bamboo neck, two frontal pegs, a relatively large, board-faced tubular resonator, and silk strings commonly tuned to g and d′. Held vertically in a manner similar to the erhu, it is employed in the instrumental and vocal genre known as nanyin (and nanguan) in Fujian Province, Taiwan and south-east Asia. There, it supports the more embellished lines of the xiao vertical flute with a simpler and more sustained rendition of the shared melodic core.

The erxian of the Chaozhou sub-culture has a hardwood neck, two dorsal pegs, a small tubular resonator with thick walls, and silk strings. The seated player crosses his bare right foot over his left knee and rests the resonator on the upturned sole of the foot. This instrument and playing position can also be seen in the ...

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