Guzheng – Ancient Chinese Instrument


Known as Chinese zither, Guzheng is one of the most ancient Chinese musical instruments. Guzheng has been a popular instrument since ancient times and is considered as one of the main solo instruments of Chinese traditional music. Japanese Koto as well as several other zither-like intruments are all derived from guzheng. 

Guzheng is built with a special wooden sound body with strings arched across movable bridges along the length of the instrument for the purpose of tuning.  The middle part of the box is slightly higher than the two ends. The bottom board is flat or close to flat. It can be roughly divided to three parts: the head, the body, and the end part. The right bridge is at the head, the left bridge is at the end part, the body is between two bridges. The head has a foot at the bottom. The strings are set on the upper face of the instrument. Each string are suported by a paxilla which stands on the upper face. The paxillas can be moved on the right or left direction to regulate the pitch or the quality of the sound. The structures are different according to the type of the Guzheng. The quality of a Guzheng depends on the quality of the materials and the technique of the process. 

In the early times the zheng had 5 string and quite probably with bamboo sound body; later on developed into 12 to 13 strings in the Tang Dynasty and 16 strings in the Song and Ming dynasty. A modern Guzheng typically has 21 strings over movable bridges, and steel strings wound with nylon, although ancient instruments used silk strings. These are mounted on a large resonant half-tube box made of wu-tong wood, and the instrument is typically about 1.7m long.




筝的形制为长方形木质音箱,弦架“筝柱”(即雁柱)可以自由移动。音箱中间稍微突起,底板呈平面或近似于平面。古筝的结构大致可分为三部分,即筝首、筝身、筝尾。右端前梁为筝首,左端后梁为筝尾,中间部分为筝身。古筝的头部有缓缓而落的古筝脚。在木制箱体的面板上张设古筝弦。在每条弦下面安置码子,码子可以左右移动,用来调整音高和音质。古筝的品种不一,构造也不尽相同。 古筝的优劣取决于各部分材料质地及制作工艺的高低。

 早期,古筝有五根弦,音箱是竹制的。唐朝时期增至12或13根弦,宋明时期为16根,古时弦多为丝质,目前最常用的规格为21弦, 弦的类别有金属丝弦、尼龙弦等。标准的古筝大小为1.7米。

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