The songs celebrating the Chinese New Year reflect the diversity of cultural traditions in China, which includes a wide variety of instruments and singing styles. One of the most distinctive sounds of Chinese musical instruments is made by the Erhu. I love the enchanting sound of the Erhu, which reminds me of the female voice and its ability to express calm, tender and sonorous melodies. As the title piece on my album (Lotus Dreams), it is an example that echoes the soaring harmonies of my imagination. The Erhu sings its soulful song throughout. Alternating between tender, sonorous, and stirring, this composition takes us to a place of calm and tranquility — a place where we might all dream of lotus flowers.
The Erhu, a bowed string instrument that developed around the 10th century, and referred to by some as the Chinese violin, has only two strings but a skilled performer can produce an amazing variety of sounds. It has a long narrow neck with a small sound box at the bottom, often covered with snakeskin, and no fingerboard. A highly versatile instrument, it can be played both as a solo instrument or be part of an orchestra. Played upright on the thigh, a performer can use the pressure of their hand on the instrument to alter the tautness of the bow strings. The Erhu is made of ebony or sandalwood, and has a drum-like body with an open back and a front opening covered with snake skin. The body resonates with the strings, producing a rich and intriguing sound.