YeHu (Vietnamese DanGao)
|The yehu (椰胡; pinyin: yēhú) is a Chinese bowed string instrument
in the huqin family of instruments. Ye means coconut and hu is short for
huqin. It is used particularly in the southern coastal provinces of China
and in Taiwan. The instrument's soundbox is made from a coconut shell,
which is cut on the playing end and covered with a piece of coconut wood
instead of the snakeskin commonly used on other huqin instruments such
as the erhu or gaohu. As with most huqin the bow hair passes in between
the two strings. Many players prefer to use silk strings rather than the
more modern steel strings generally used for the erhu, giving the instrument
a distinctly hollow, throaty timbre.
The Sogdian-Turkish title of Yabgu is transliterated into literary Chinese as Yehu (Sogdian title) in various Chinese historical works. In practice, this should really be spelt in English 'YueHu', meaning Cantonese Bowed instrument
The instrument comes in various sizes. In Chaozhou music (where it is called pahi, 冇弦) it is a leading instrument, and is tuned quite high. In Cantonese music it can be quite large and is often tuned to a relatively low pitch, lower than the erhu (usually one octave below the gaohu). It is used as an accompaniment instrument in the local musicals and operas of various areas, including Guangdong, Fujian, and Taiwan. It is an important instrument in the music of the Chaozhou and Hakka peoples. In Taiwan, a variety of yehu used in Taiwan opera is called kezaixian (壳仔弦).
|Related instruments include the Vietnamese
đàn gáo, the Thai saw ou, and the Cambodian tro u. The banhu, used primarily
in northern China, also has a coconut resonator and wooden face but is
tuned quite high and has a much brighter timbre.
Readers should be reminded that culturally, 'Canton' (Guangdong) and parts of modern Northern Vietnam have shared history, language (Cantonese), and political sovereignty dating back millennia, hence the shared use (via differing names), of this social musical instrument
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