Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone!

May 2009 be a better year for all of us!

Here's a video of a recent Christmas performance by the electric erhu and a guitar.

Songs include: 'Let's eat snow, let's eat snow', 'gazing at spring wind', rude oaf the red nose rain dear' and 'My whey'.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

National Music Competition 2008 / WNZ Sandalwood Erhus

The National Music Competition 2008 organised by the National Arts Council just concluded.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Special congratulations to Joyce Poh for getting first in the Dizi open category. She happens to be the lead cast in our youtube video: Basic introduction of the Dizi.

And special congratulations to the members Symphonic Percussion for getting first in the Percussion ensemble category. We hoped our gongs, cymbals, drums and mallets have helped you in one way or another.

Congratulations to the members of Toa Payoh West Community Club Chinese Orchestra for bagging the most number of prizes.

You can download the full list of winners here.

Lastly, congratulations to Artssphere Chamber Ensemble for getting first in the instrumental ensemble category. Each one of them are excellent musicians who came together to give a good performance, and scared the hell out of some kid apparently.

Which brings me to the second part of this email - the erhus that they used are supplied by us. Noticed how clean and uniformed the erhus sounded during the performance.

The axe that they use is this baby below:



This erhu is a maker in Tianjin by the initials of WNZ.

If you remember my first blog post I talked about one of the best erhus that I have come across. Well, I met him recently and brought in some of his erhus. His erhus especially the sandalwood erhus are excellent sounding.

If you are thinking of buying a good erhu, this is one instrument you can seriously consider:
http://www.eason.com.sg/products/erhu/heh41.jsp

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Chinese Musical Instruments of Beijing Olympics 2008

Well, back to the Shanghai fair again.

Inside Shanghai Dunhuang's booth(the one with the giant lute - see previous entry), there is a special room where they house the Beijing Olympics 2008 Chinese musical instruments.

I only know that erhus were used in the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. Seems like there are more Chinese musical instruments specially made for that occasion.

The first one is a chime stone. You hit it with the beater as shown.

'No touching' it says, but I touched.


The second is a weird looking erhu.


The headstock looks like a Christmas tree.


The body looks like some prop from the Gladiator movie.

It has a 'no touching' sign as well. Again, I touched.


Here are 2 Beijing Olympic flutes.


Don't know if it was used during the Beijing Olympics, but it has the words 'Olympics flute' in Chinese engraved.

'No touching' again. But again I touched.


A huge drum here.


Noticed the sign says 'You may touch', but I didn't. Not very good at taking orders eh?


Finally, my favourite - the erhu that was used by 67 Chinese babes during the Beijing Olympics closing. It is a collaboration between Shanghai Dunhuang and Roland Music.

It is a traditional electric erhu. Traditional in the sense that the erhu is like any traditional erhu, very similar to this model of erhu that I am selling in my online store. Electric in the sense that there are electronic components attached to it that allows the tone to be amplified and modified.

Here's a body shot of it.

The erhu has a cloud design headstock that symbolises prosperity.


There is an effects pedal affixed on the neck of the erhu. You can add reverb, delay, chorus etc to the tone of your erhu. By fixing it on the neck allows you to toggle the effects easily.


Some knobs in front of the erhu for you to set the parameters of the different effects.


The back is where you insert a 9 volt battery.


The brand names of Shanghai Dunhuang and Roland.


Real python skin was used for the resonator.


Here's where the cable goes.


I have 2 of these sitting in my shop. I haven't decide if I want to sell it yet. The last time I heard, the current market price in China is 30,000rmb, about 6000SGD, or 4000USD.

Feel free to let me know if you want to take a look at it if you ever drop by my shop.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Presentation on the Maintenance of Chinese Musical Instruments

We were invited by recently by the Ministry of Education(MOE), Singapore to give a talk to secondary school students leaders of various Chinese orchestras on how to maintain and protect their Chinese musical instruments.

We starting giving such talks to teachers and students a couple of years ago and it quickly became a yearly affair.

Usually the talk is one of the programmes of a music camp organised by MOE for student leaders from the various secondary school Chinese orchestras.

The talk starts with a presentation by Tan Kim Seng- one of the founders of Eason Enterprises, followed by a breakout session whereby students are split into string, plucking and wind sections. The old dude one the left is Tan Kim Seng and yours truly is on the right.


Below is Mr Er, a music instructor for not the Erhu as his name suggests, but Chinese wind instruments like Dizi and Sheng(Chinese pipes). He is one of the few people in Singapore who can repair the Sheng. He gave some tips on how to do simple repairs on the Sheng.


And that's me speaking to a group of wonderful students from the string section on things like maintenance and setting up - the various aspects of the erhu except how to play it.


This is Mr Ng, one of the people from Eason. Besides knowing how to wipe the Yangqin, he plays and teaches the Yangqin as well, along with the Liuqin, Pipa, Guzheng and Ruans - well, almost every instrument in the plucking section.

I'm surprised many of the students who play Chinese musical instruments have blogs. I have added some of their blogs on the right.

I have also added a cbox on the right. It is a sort of message board so feel free to leave me a message. Please refrain from posting viagra ads or related stuff. The profile of my readers clearly is not your target audience.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Products Listed - Mini Flutes and Mini Ruans

I've just listed some new products on my website.

2 of them are koudis - which directly translated to English means 'mouth flute'. I suppose they called it a mouth flute because it is played with the mouth, as opposed to the rest of the flutes which is played by the, erm...., the mouth as well. Hey!....so why is it call the mouth flute?

After looking at the video below, I conclude they call it the mouth flute because the lady looks like she is whistling instead of playing a flute.

Anyway I shall call it the 'miniature flute' instead.


You need one of these if you want to do what this lady is doing:

video

One of it is a G key koudi and the other a D key koudi.

Click the below links to go to the individual product pages:
http://www.eason.com.sg/products/dizi/wdz42(d).jsp
http://www.eason.com.sg/products/dizi/wdz42(g).jsp

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The other 2 products listed is a XiaoRuan (Small Ruan) and GaoYinRuan (High pitched Ruan). The XiaoRuan and GaoYinRuan is part of the Ruan family, consisting of DaRuan, ZhongRuan, XiaoRuan and GaoYinRuan.

Here's how they line up to be:


The XiaoRuan and GaoYinRuan sounds similar to the mandolin.

For those who are not acquainted with the 'hanyu pinyin', the pronunciation of 'Ruan' is more like Run, instead of 'Roo...Ann'.

Click on the video samples link in the respective pages to hear how they sound like.

XiaoRuan:
http://www.eason.com.sg/products/ruan/tbxr5.jsp

GaoYinRuan:
http://www.eason.com.sg/products/ruan/tbxr3.jsp

Ruan product page:
http://www.eason.com.sg/products/products_ruan.jsp

Friday, November 7, 2008

More Photos From Shanghai Music Fair 2008

Here are the rest of the pictures I took at the Shanghai Music Fair:

This was one of the main attractions at the Dunhuang booth - a butterfly Guzheng.


Its not just 1 Guzheng, its 4 Guzhengs in 1!


Shot of the gigantic lute again. Nothing new cos they recycled from last year's fair.


The world's largest erhu? Correction - the world's largest playable erhu. Tried playing it and sounds horrible.

A close up of the erhu. What a bridge.


The booth of Shanghai Dunhuang 'Yun' brand, which we are the sole distributor in Singapore.


Took them a long time to figure out sex sells....


After 1 year they are still together....


Nice booth.


To be frank I'm not sure what is this. Looks like a horn flute or something.


I took some shots of these ocarinas but was stopped by the owner. What's so special about them?


Miniature Chinese instruments.


Another shot of it.


The world's largest Chao gong. Correction - the world's largest playable Chao gong. According to the owner there are some bigger in size but they are all looks and no substance.

Coming up next.....Beijing Olympic Chinese music instruments.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trade In Your Guzheng For Cash!

Do you have an unused Guzheng collecting dust in your storeroom or taking up space in your living room?

Have you or your kid decided that you're done with the Guzheng for the rest of your life?

Well, instead of throwing it away or wait for it to biodegrade, why not bring it down to our shop to exchange for some cash?

Because we are taking in used Guzhengs.

So if you have one which you would like to get rid of, please send an email to us at tansungwah@eason.com.sg with the following information:

- Describe the physical condition of the Guzheng
- Tell us when you bought it
- Are there any bridges or stands missing?
- Send us some photos of it if possible.

Please note that we only take in Shanghai Dunhuang Guzhengs.

If you are do not own any Guzheng at the moment and are thinking of getting one, please take a look at our selections here: http://www.eason.com.sg/products/products_guzheng.jsp

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Two Videos From Shanghai Music Fair 2008

Here are two of the few videos I took during the Shanghai Music Fair 2008.

The first is a dude from the Beijing Conservatory of Music. You might find him familiar because I previously posted a clip of him playing Jiang He Shui, also at a music fair sometime ago. Apparently he's doing some promotion for some erhu makers/manufacturers. He just puts his own bow on whatever erhu they give him and play!

This time I caught him playing the last part of Zigeunerweisen on the erhu.

Watch his fingers fly!

video

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The second clip is a guy playing the MaTouQin. "Ma Tou" means "horse head" and "Qin" means instrument. So Voila! The instrument he played has a horse head for its headstock!

The instrument is has 2 strings and a bow is used to play. For more information about the matouqin you can go over to wiki here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matouqin

Notice he did not use his fingers to 'press' the strings like what you would do for normal string instruments. He uses his fingers to push the strings sideways instead.

video'

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gaining in Strength to Strength With Your Erhu

I was speaking to Dr Z yesterday about erhus.

We were talking about how the erhu will improve in sound when played by certain people, but will deteriorate in sound in the hands of another.

Certain people have the ability to 'grow' their erhus.

Part of it of course depends on the bowing technique (can be scientifically proven). With the bow pulling the strings at a correct angle, the vibrations created will give the snakeskin a good workout and have a positive effect on the tone.

The second part depends on each individual person's aura (not scientifically proven). It's like some jewelery looks sparkling on one person, but the same thing looks dull and jaded on another.

The last part depends on how you much you love your instrument (not scientifically proven again). The wood and snakeskin before they were cut down and up to make the erhu were living things before their demise. Part of them still lives within the instrument. So if you take care of them and nurture them with love, they will respond positively and the tone will improve.

One of my customers emailed me the other day: "I like my gaohu better the more I play it. I just wish there was more time and energy to spend on my fiddles. The more I practice on them the more they want."

Very true.

So do you find your erhu getting better each day or not as good as before? You could be the reason.....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Shanghai Music Fair 2008 / New Erhu Bow

It's been a while since I posted on blog. So how have all of you been?

The financial crisis is really getting to everyone. Today I was at a food centre and all the queues of the supposedly popular stores have vanished. More people are eating in instead of eating out. I think people will be more prudent with their spending, which means bad times for businesses.

Well, not all business are affected negatively. Pawnshops and second hand stores have reported brisk sales. Supermarkets have also seen an increase in people buying more groceries to cook at home instead of eating out.

So what's the direction going to be for Chinese musical instruments business? At the moment it seems the trend is down.

But I hope people realize that since they can't afford to change cars or houses so often, why not spend it on spiritually and culturally stimulating things like the erhu, pipa and dizi!

If you're thinking how are you going to learn to play the erhu, we have our online erhu lessons still going at an introductory price of US$480!

And for those who prefer a more in-your-face type of musical expression, you can consider our drums, gongs and cymbals! It is also a more economical stress reliever than St. Regis Monarch Resort. (Someone email my website address www.eason.com.sg to the executives of AIG)

Anyway, one of the reasons I went MIA recently is because I went to the music fair in Shanghai. Yes it is the time of the year again. Not a lot of surprises this year it seems. The number of exhibitors has in fact decreased. I did not see quite a lot of previously seen names at the fair. One told me that there were too many makers and those that cannot make the cut died off naturally.

The buyer power of the Chinese still seems very strong. Buyers are still seen in droves, buying at prices that even my most affluent customers would deem very expensive. How about 20,000-30,000 RMB for 1 erhu?

Anyway here are some pictures of the Shanghai fair. I'll post more later when I have the time.

>>The entrance to the expo centre

>>Registration area inside the expo centre


>>Big banner inside the expo centre


>>Funny looking pianos


>>Funny looking piano again


>>With a brand name that strikes a chord with Singaporean ah bengs and ah lians


>>A piano made of porcelin


>>The player of the piano made of porcelin

More later.
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I've recently listed another product on the website.

It is one of the most well made bows I have seen so far. Although the rod is not very thick, it is a rather stiff bow.

Read more about it here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Montage of Video Clips of the Electric Erhu @ Eason

We were playing around with the electric erhu and I took some clips of it.

Look out for the erhu, violin, jinghu, high pitched banhu, zhuihu, erhu in overdrive and some tones which I have no words to describe.

video

Interested parties please email me at tansungwah@eason.com.sg for details. Only 1-2 pieces left.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Arrival of Stocks - update

We have a new type of Fang Fang Erhu strings. It comes in red and white packaging. It is of a similar grade to the usual Fang Fang Erhu strings in blue and white packaging. But the difference is the string gauge is thicker, which means more effort is required of your left fingers.

Fang Fang Blue - Outer String = 0.25mm / Inner String = 0.42mm
Fang Fang Red - Outer String = 0.26mm / Inner String = 0.44mm


(Click on image to go to product page)

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New stocks of Dizis (Chinese Bamboo Flute) and Xiaos (Chinese Vertical Flute) from Beijing maker Dong Xue Hua just came in. I ordered a few more pieces of Xiao because they always run out quickly. They come in the key of F and G.

Click here to see how they look.

Click here for their Dizis.

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Our Hulusis (a Yunnan minority wind instrument) have also been restocked. They come in Bb and C key - subject to stock availability.

Click here for our Hulusi page
.

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Tomorrow is the date where details of the first ever Online Interactive Erhu Course will be released!

Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Erhu of the Future and the Bridge of the Past

Today I tested the Plexiglass Electric Erhu.

Boy was it FUN!

It's really a very fun instrument to play.

The package came with a set of speakers and an effects box. The setup was pretty straightforward. You just need to connect a few wires here and there and you're all set to go.

The effects box came preset with 50 over settings that turns your Erhu into a Zhonghu, Gaohu, Banhu, Cello, string ensemble etc.

I have to admit I was a little skeptical in the beginning, but I really enjoyed playing the instrument today, changing to different tones just buy tapping my feet on the effects box.

The plexiglass Erhu itself is surprising, very easy to play and very responsive. It plays almost effortlessly. The bow grabs itself nicely on the strings and the tone is very clean, without alot of the noise associated with normal Erhus.

To the purists it might sound very artificial and 'un-Erhu' like. But you have to accept that its an 'electric Erhu'. You don't expect an electric guitar to sound like an acoustic guitar anyway.

I brought in 3 pieces but I doubt I will be bringing more in the future unless someone pre-orders it, because the cost is very high.

I'll set it up in my shop and let you guys have a go at it. 1 piece is sold and another is reserved. That leaves just 1.

I'll post some videos soon.

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My stock of the 4300 year old Erhu bridges are here. Only less than half remains.

Those in Singapore can bring their Erhus to try the bridge and be convinced before buying.

Those not in Singapore, we have a money back guarantee. If you are not satisfied with the result the bridge brings, just mail it back for a full refund!

Click here to order.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Woolly Woolly Lamb Felt Damper

I've just listed the felt dampers that I have in my shop for sale on my online store.

It's called the "Woolly Woolly Lamb Felt Damper"! Woohoo!

From our experience felt material works best so we've been using felt ever since lambs started to baaaa on earth.

A piece of damper makes a big difference in the tone of the Erhu. It cuts out a lot of the irritating cackling noise that you produce on a Erhu without a damper.

You fold the damper and insert it under the bridge between the strings and the snakeskin. The ideal thickness is achieved when you do not need to remove the bridge to slide the damper in but at the same time you need to push and pull a bit to get the damper in. (You can view the Erhus in my online store if you have no idea where to put it)

Pushing the damper down towards the base will give you a brighter tone so you can shift it to your preference.

Selling these things are not going to make me rich (unless I sell a million of them) but I thought you might find it useful.

Click here to go to the product page.

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My new stocks of instruments and accessories are arriving early next week.

Which means those of you who ordered the 4300 year old Erhu bridge will be getting it really soon!

And I can finally the Fang Fang strings to those whom I have owed for so long.

Some of the new items that I am expecting are:
- A new all black Erhu bow that accordingly is very popular among Erhu professionals in China
- A new version of Fang Fang strings
- The Electric Erhu!
- New Xuzhou Liuqins by Master Liu Wei Zhong
- New Pipas by Master Qiu Ting Yu
- New Erhus by WNZ

More information will be posted soon.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Erhus Used in Beijing Olympics Closing Ceremony

I've found out more about the Erhus used in the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics:

- They're made by Shanghai Dunhuang

- A total of 60 Erhus were made for the performance

- The Erhu comes with a built in pickup

- The headstock is specially designed with a 'prosperity cloud'

- Because of the 'cloudy' headstock, the Erhu weighs a whopping 2.5kg

- The Erhu is fitted with a clip that hooks on to the belt that the performer wears so that she can prance around the stage with ease

- The Erhu is specially made by a team of 3-4 master Erhu makers including - Wang Gen Xing

- The Erhu is made of Aged Rosewood

- These Olympic Erhus took 3 months to manufacture and Shanghai Dunhuang will not be producing anymore of the same kind.

- Shanghai Dunhuang will be keep some of the Erhus as mementos and the rest will be put up for sale

Great, so they are selling them!

Well, I've enquired with them and apparently all the Erhus have been snapped up.

I'm being placed on the waiting and will only be allocated if someone fails to make payment for it.

I'll let you know if I get my hands on one.

But its mine......all mine.......

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By the way, I've just listed an interesting book on the origins of Chinese music.

It's quite a simple book written in a comic book format.

Click here for more information about the book.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Beijing Olympics 2008 Closing Ceremony

Did any of you catch the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics?

The part with hordes of young pretty Chinese girls playing the Erhu together is quite lovely.

They really look like they can play. Their hand motions are very fluid. But I doubt they are playing live.

Their Erhus look very interesting. The headstock is something like this Erhu that I have (Click here).

I can't figure out how they support the Erhu to play standing up. It looks nothing like the Erhu belt clip I have. The base looks thick and heavy. I'll see if I can get my hands on one of these just for the fun of it.

The golfing attire is charming, but I would prefer a more traditional attire though. I think that's because the closing ceremony is suppose to portray a modern China, contrary to the opening ceremony.

Here's a video link for those who have missed it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt-ptMfsaK8

Catch it before it gets taken down!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The First and Only Online Erhu Classes in the World

These are exciting times.

We've been working very hard to develop this program.

So that anyone in the world can learn how to play the Erhu, whenever and wherever you are.

All you need is an internet connection and a pair of computer speakers.

Most important of all, you learn to play the Erhu CORRECTLY.

The knowledge that we share is going to blow you away and we guarantee you will be sounding much better than before with our systematic approach to learning.

The program will be launched on 16 September 2008.

Watch this space.

How to Slice Open a Dimo

I thought I was clear enough when I added subtitles to the video "How to fix dimo on the flute".

I added the line, "slice the dimo open....", but I am still getting emails from customers overseas telling me I sent them the wrong size Dimo.

I tried to explain that Dimo comes in tubes but they thought I meant I packaged the Dimo in a tube, which of course they did not receive.

A video speaks louder than words so this is what I meant by, "slice open a tube of Dimo":

video

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Introductory Video of the Dizi, Chinese Bamboo Flute

We've just finished an introductory video on some of the basics of the Dizi.

This video shows you the different parts of the Dizi. It also shows you how to hold the Dizi, the fingerings and the posture.

So with the how to fix the dimo video and this video, you should be able to get a good sound out of the Dizi and look good doing it!

If you haven't got a Dizi, head over to our store here to purchase one.

It's great fun!

(Special thanks to Joyce Poh for her help in the videos)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

It's Been 1 Year Already?

Today (or yesterday depending on where you are) is a significant day.

Yes, 2 August 2008 is exactly one year after I started this blog.

I have so far made a total of 114 entries, which surprised myself because I never liked writing diaries when I was young.

The most common entries my teacher saw from my diary assignments were "Today nothing much happened" or "Today was an uninteresting day".

So happy birthday/ creation day to my blog.

I hope I'll still be at for many years to come.

And thank you for reading my blog, whoever you are.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Update on Video on How to Fix the Dimo on the Dizi

I've done an update to my video on How to Fix the Dimo on the Dizi.

From the emails that I have received, quite a number of beginners don't know that the tubes of Dimo that they bought needs to be sliced open before use.

Some of them paste 2 pieces of Dimo (before cutting them open) together because they find that 1 piece is not big enough to cover the hole. Of course the result is disastrous.

The new version comes with English subtitles with some additional information.

Here it is:

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tips On How to Maintain Your Erhu Bow

Wang Xiao Di is an Erhu bow maker from Beijing. Her bows are very good quality and I carry one of her mid-range bows in my online store. Being an Erhu player herself, she also came up with a pack of 6 bridges for the Erhu.

She's very passionate about Erhu bow making. Everytime I meet her at music fairs in China she'll go on and on about her blog and her bows.

And everytime I order her bows she'll pack in a stack of cards with information on how to take care of your Erhu bow.

So for the benefit of those who do not understand Chinese, here it is in English:

1. Keep the bow away from oily substance. Do not touch the bow hair with your hand. The oil on your hand will reduce the grab your bow has on the Erhu strings.

2. Apply enough rosin on the bow hair before use. After playing for 1-2 hours, reapply rosin again to prevent damage to the microscopic scales on the bow hair.

3. Loosen the bow hair after use. This is to preserve the natural curvature of the bamboo rod as well as the elasticity of the bow hair.

4. If you are not going to use the bow for a long time, clean off the rosin from the bow rod and bow hair and store it in a plastic cover.

5. When fixing the bow to the Erhu, it is advisable to detach the frog from the bow first. After fixing the strings, attach the frog back to the bow. This will prevent the pointed tip on the frog of the bow from breaking (applicable for Beijing styled bow only).

6. A professional player changes their bow every 6 months to stay on top of their game. A non-professional player should change their bow at least once a year. When you feel that the bow does not grab the strings as well as before despite rosining, it could mean that the scales on the bow hair have been eroded through constant playing. It is thus time to change a new bow.