Erhu is a popular bowed instrument and has a long history since Tang dynasty in China. In the early times, its bow was made by bamboo and had a name called Ji-qin. Later it was renamed Xi-qin. In Northern Song dynasty, the northern minorities introduced their Huqin to us, of which, the material of the bow was changed from bamboo to horse tail. By Yuan dynasty, it was widely spread in China. Under a long period of development, it derived gradually into various species (e.g. Jinghu, Banhu, Erhu, Sihu, Zhuihu, etc.), Erhu (also known as Nanhu) was one kind of it. Later on, the Erhu was differentiated into Gaohu (tenor Erhu), Zhonghu (alto Erhu) and Dahu (bass Erhu) according to their pitch and sizes. While their performing techniques were basically the same.
In a long period of time, Erhu was used as an accompany instrument for the opera or used in the regional folk music ensemble (e.g.: Jiangnan Sizhu). Around 1919, LIU Tian-hau began to use it as a solo instrument and wrote training materials for it in the course of the Universities' training centres.
Erhu has a beautiful timbre and its range of scale reaches to three octaves in normal. Therefore, to the extent permit of its range, it can play all kinds of different rhythms, different speeds and different style of tunes. In solo performances, it is not only suitable for performing with Yangqin or small plucked string accompaniment, but also suitable for the piano accompaniment. It is one of the main melodic instruments in the ensemble. It can play harmoniously with other string and wind instruments.
It is still some room for the improvement of the Erhu. Especially, reflected in playing the strong action on the high ranged area, playing the rapid notes out of an octave. It also has the problems of too narrow range and not enough volume. To make the instrument more perfect gradually, these can be solved and improved in future through the experiences of teaching, performing and manufacturing.