二胡 (Èrhú), or a Chinese violin, is one of China’s most popular traditional musical instruments.
Unlike violin, the èrhú has two strings only. Still, it’s known as one of the most “human-voiced” musical instruments, able to produce an amazing variety of sounds and emotions. An èrhú is played with a bow like a violin, but the bow is unremovable, with the bow hairs inside the strings.
The resonance box (see picture) is usually fitted with snakeskin to produce the characteristic sound. You can get animal friendly plastic versions too, but most professional èrhú builders will tell you snake sounds better.
The èrhú is not just a quirky folk instrument - it’s a completely serious part of modern Chinese orchestras (big ensembles may have 20+ èrhús), and it’s used in all kinds of pop music too - one band even plays successful black metal with it!
Play us a song, you're the èrhú man. Wikimedia Commons