The "gaohu" (; pinyin: gāohú; Cantonese: gou1 wu4; also called "yuehu" ) is a Chinese bowed string instrument used in playing traditional Cantonese music and Cantonese opera. It belongs to the "huqin" family of instruments, together with the "zhonghu", "erhu", "banhu", "jinghu", and "sihu", its name means "high pitched "huqin". It has two strings and its soundbox is covered on the front (playing) end with snakeskin (from a python).

The "gaohu" was developed in the 1920s by the musician and composer Lü Wencheng (1898-1981) and is now the leading instrument of Cantonese music and opera ensembles; prior to this the lead bowed instrument was a similar instrument called "erxian". The "gaohu" is similar in construction to the "erhu" but has a slightly smaller soundbox, commonly circular, and is tuned a fourth higher, to G4 and D5. Whereas most "huqin" is placed on top of the left thigh, the traditional "gaohu" is played with the soundbox held in between the knees. It has a brighter and lighter tone as compared to the "erhu". Well known pieces for the "gaohu" include "Bu Bu Gao" (步步高, Higher Step By Step) and "Ping Hu Qiu Yue" (平湖秋月, Autumn Moon On Calm Lake).

Although originally a regional instrument used only in Cantonese music, the "gaohu" (in different forms and played placed on the leg, as the erhu) is used in the modern large Chinese orchestra, as part of the string family, along with the erhu, zhonghu, banhu, cello, and double bass.

Notable "gaohu" players include:
*Lü Wencheng (吕文成, pinyin: Lǚ Wénchéng) (1898-1981) [] in Chinese
*Liu Tianyi (刘天一) (1910-1990) [] in Chinese
*Gan Shangshi (甘尚时) (1931- )
*Yu Qiwei (余其伟) (1953- ) [] in English [] in Chinese


Huang, Rijin (1997) "Guangdong Yinyue; Gaohu Qu Xuan" (Guangdong Music; Selected Pieces for Gaohu). Beijing: "Renmin Yinyue Chubanshe" (Peoples Music Publishing House)

Audio Sample

Video Sample

Video of Mr Yu Qiwei performing the "gaohu" piece "Ping Hu Qiu Yue" (平湖秋月, Autumn Moon On Calm Lake). Link:

ee also

*Cantonese music
*Cantonese opera
*Music of China
*Traditional Chinese musical instruments
*String instruments

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