Chinese Arts & Music Association

Instruments

Gaohu

The chief instrument used in Cantonese music

This Chinese 2-stringed, vertical fiddle is particularly used in Southern China. Traditionally a Gaohu had two silk strings, but today metal strings or a combination of metal/silk strings are more common. The physical structure of a Gaohu is similar to that of an er-hu, although the neck of the this instrument is shorter. The tuning is a fourth to a fifth higher than the er-hu, giving it a higher pitched voice. The performance technique is quite similar to erhu and other Chinese two-stringed fiddles. Because of its mellow tone quality, Gaohu is chiefly used in Cantonese music. It is also the main accompanied instrument in Cantonese opera, a popular opera among Hong Kong and Guang Dong Province in China. It function could be similar to that of the 1st violins in a western orchestra. It can also be used as a solo instrument normally for lively and merry music pieces.