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Erhu as Violin: Development of China's Representative Musical Instrument, c. 1990-2008

Zhang, Shuo (2010) Erhu as Violin: Development of China's Representative Musical Instrument, c. 1990-2008. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Erhu is known internationally as a symbol of Chinese music. While the instrument has a history of nearly a millennium, its solo repertory in concert performance developed only in the past 100 years or so, drawing upon traditional Chinese material. The enormous influence of Western culture arrived with the open door policy of China in the late 1970s gave rise to new trends of Westernization in the Chinese instrumental music. Erhu, due to its similarity to the violin, underwent great transformation, particularly in its playing technique and repertory on the concert stage. During the decade of 1980s, erhu musicians began to perform arranged violin repertoire. Pieces like Zigeunerweisen and Carmen Fantasy became standard erhu concert repertoires, and also as a symbol for the virtuoso of erhu playing. Other influences include an imitation of the violin to perform standing up, allowing greater bodily movement and stage presence. The violin repertoire has become the major requirements for the students of the top national musical institutions training professional erhu musicians. Meanwhile, the composition of new works for erhu and Western symphony orchestra or erhu and piano is becoming a common practice. This paper explores the new trends in Chinese instrumental music in relation to China's post-1990 modernity. What do the unprecedented changes in erhu music landscape indicate in this period? How do we view this phenomenon in the greater context of China in the 1990s and in the new millennium? Through musical and contextual analysis, my findings illustrate how changes in the music sphere are tied to the greater cultural changes and social processes as China developed into a fast growing economic power in the global context today.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Zhang, Shuoshz16@pitt.eduSHZ16
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairYung, Bell
Committee MemberWeintraub, Andrew
Committee MemberZahab, Roger
Date: 26 January 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 23 April 2009
Approval Date: 26 January 2010
Submission Date: 23 November 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: China; violin; erhu; modernity and tradition
Other ID:, etd-11232009-132104
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:06
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:52


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