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Chinese Guzheng, Chinese traditional musical instrument

The guzheng (also called zheng) is a traditional musical instrument. It has 18 or more strings and movable bridges and the modern Guzheng usually has 21 strings and bridges. The picks (DaiMao) used by performers to play Guzheng are often made out of the shells of the hawksbill turtle.


Chinese Guzheng is the ancestor of several Asian zither instruments. The Japanese koto, the Mongolian yatga, the Korean gayageum, and the Vietnamese Đàn tranh all evolved from it.


The early types of Guzheng emerged during the Warring States period (475 to 221 BC). It was largely influenced by the se, a plucked stringed instrument. It became prominent during the Qin period (221 to 206 BCE) and by the Tang Dynasty (618 CE to 907 CE) the Guzheng was arguably the most played instrument in China.


The traditional zheng music varies from south to north and five dedicated schools were formed; Zhejiang, Shandong, Henan, Kejia, Chaozhou. 


The modern zheng is very different from ones made centuries ago, mainly due to natural evolution influenced by local as well as historical environments but also because of the adoption of Western musical styles. Strings were once made from silk but now they are almost always metallic nylon which increases the instrument's capabilities, volume and potentials.


Many people often confuse Guzheng with the Guqin, another prominent traditional musical instrument. There are two obvious differences in characteristics between them. One is the number of strings as the Guzheng has more strings. The other is the sound as the Guqin produces a more sorrowful sound.


Well known pieces for the instrument include "Yu Zhou Chang Wan" (Singing at night on fishing boat), "Gao Shan Liu Shui" (High mountains flowing water), "Mei Hua San Nong" (Three variations of the Plum Blossom theme) and "Han Gong Qiu Yue" (Autumn Moon Over the Han Palace).