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About Guzheng 古筝 

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Gu zheng History 

Gu Zheng 古筝 is an ancient Chinese musical instrument. It has more than 2,500 years of history. Guzheng was believed to be invented during the Qin Dynasty (897-221 BC). 

Shanxi 陕西 areas were the origin of Gu Zheng in China.

Due to its popularity, Gu Zheng 古筝 is also renown as the 'Oriental Piano'.

Gu zheng 古筝 Schools/Playing Styles

Gu Zheng (古筝) music is divided into 2 major categories. The Traditional (传统古筝乐曲) Guzheng music and the modern Guzheng music (現代古筝乐曲).

Traditional Gu Zheng music is subdivided into Southern and Northern (南北派) categories.

Examples of the Northern Styles of Guzheng playing styles are the Shandong (山东筝) and Henan (河南筝) styles. The Southern Guzheng playing styles are associated with the Chaozhou (潮州) and Hakka (客家) styles.

Now Traditional Gu Zheng music (传统古筝乐曲) is further divided into 7 or even 9 different Guzheng (古筝) schools or playing styles.

The 7 or 9 Different Guzheng Schools

or Playing Styles are listed below:-

1) Shanxi Guzheng Styles  “真秦之声” 的陕西古筝 

2) Chaozhou Guzheng Styles  “韩江丝竹” 的潮州古筝 

3) Hakka Guzheng Styles  “汉皋古韵” 的客家古筝 

4) Shandong Guzheng styles  “齐鲁大板” 的山东古筝 

5) Zhejiang Guzheng styles  “武林逸韵” 的杭州古筝(浙江古筝)

6) Henan Guzheng Styles  “中州古调”(“郑卫之音”)的河南古筝 

7) Fujian Guzheng Styles   闽南地区的福建古筝 

8) * Mongolian Guzheng Styles  内蒙草原 “雅托葛" yatoke(蒙语) — 蒙古筝 

9)  * Korean Guzheng Styles  延边地区的“伽椰琴” Gayakog(朝鲜语) — 朝鲜筝 

* these Guzheng styles (Mongolian and Korean Guzheng styles) are less popular. Guzheng playing styles are more commonly known as having 7 major schools or playing styles.

Guzheng 古筝 Playing Styles Charateristics

Different Gu Zheng schools or playing styles have their own distinct, unique characteristics.

The characteristics of for example, Shanxi Gu Zheng styles 陕西古筝, are the 4th pitch (Fa) and the 7th pitch (Ti). When playing Shanxi Gu Zheng music, the 'Fa' (4th degree of the scale) need to be slightly sharper while the 'Ti/Si' (7th degree of the scale) need to be slightly flatter in pitch.

Other Shanxi Gu Zheng styles 陕西古筝 playing characteristics include using the left hand thumb more often to press down the strings instead of using other fingers to press down the strings.

Most Traditional Way of Playing Gu Zheng

Gu zheng Original Playing Method

The most traditional way of playing the Gu Zheng was mainly to use the right hand’s first 2 fingers to play. Using left hand to play vibrato or altering the pitches were not very common.

About Gu zheng Strings 

In the olden days, 25 stringed Gu Zheng was the maximum stringed Gu Zheng. During the Tang Dynasty 唐朝 and Song Dynasty 宋朝 there were 13 stringed Guzheng. Later increased to for example, 16 stringed Gu Zheng, 18 stringed Gu Zheng and 21 stringed Gu Zheng. 

The 21 stringed guzheng is the most common guzheng used now.

Originally Gu Zheng used silk strings. The Gu Zheng players used his or her own real finger nails to pluck on the strings. However, there are some limitations on playing with silk strings and using our own finger nails to pluck the strings.

Hence the modern Gu Zheng now uses metal strings or metal wrapped with nylon strings. The player uses four plectra or known as picks to attach to the first four fingers. Advanced Gu Zheng players use both hands to play. Each hand has four plectra attached to their fingers to play.

2021 Guzheng Lessons

Click here for Guzheng Lessons