In this episode of Eason Live, we welcome our special guest Mr Wilson Neo. Mr Neo is a zhonghu musician from the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, as well as the conductor of Cheng San Chinese Orchestra. We are honoured to be able to have him as a guest on our live session.
In this article, we will talk about a quick fix for your qianjin and how to prevent your erhu from slipping off your lap. This article is the final part of a three part series on how to maintain your erhu. Take a look at Part 1 and Part 2 for more tips on how to maintain your erhu if you haven’t already read them.
The qianjin is the thread binding the strings to create a pressure point for the strings to rest against. The qianjin will eventually get worn out and feel thin after a long time of playing. The problem that may occur with a worn out qianjin is that the pitch tends to fluctuate as you pull and push the bow. It also makes it doubly difficult to play in tune as a slight pressure can affect the pitch of the strings.
A quick fix would be to twist the qianjin and turn the worn out area slightly to the side. This trick is good in times when you have no time to change the qianjin at all. This allows the pitch to stabilise as the new pressure point will be thicker and more solid, being able to support the pressure required.
Mr Neo suggests a surprising and non-conventional method of using shoelaces in place of qianjin. He recounts an incident during one of his school’s SYF competition where his student’s qianjin broke and they did not have any replacement on hand. They are also unable to exit the tuning room to get the qianjin replacement. He then had the idea to use the shoelace as a replacement for the qianjin. We think that was a brilliant idea in times of dire need.
Sometimes when erhu performers perform, they move their erhu along with their hand movements to show musical expression. As such, their erhu tends to slip off their laps, especially when they are wearing pants with smooth texture.
A way Mr Neo overcomes this is to stick a frame-like rectangle of polyester/foam with the middle cut out at the bottom of his erhu. Anson asked why use a frame shape instead of a full rectangle? The reason is that the groove created from the uneven surface of the frame increases friction. If the entire piece of rectangle is used there would be not sufficient friction to prevent the erhu from slipping off.
Having the middle cut out also allows easy access to the screws at the bottom of the erhu, should there be a need for maintenance purposes.
A good alternative for those who are reluctant to stick anything on their erhu would be a non slip mat, as suggested by Sung Wah. It can mostly be found at hardware stores or at daiso.
The Exquisite Ming Qing Aged Rosewood Erhu by Yu Kai Ming has grooves carved into the baseplate of the erhu to prevent this issue.
We ended off this session with a performance of “慢慢喜欢你”, sang by Biyu, with Mr Neo on the Zhonghu, Anson on the Yangqin, Ruiling on the Erhu and Sung Wah on the guitar.