An ancient traditional plucked Chinese instrument that has 2,500 years of history and belongs to the zither family.
It is an ancestor of the Japanese koto and the Korean kayagum. The guzheng has been developed from a small instrument made from bamboo, originally used by herdsmen. It was very popular during the ancient times, as early as the Chinese Warring States times and the Chinese Qin Dynasty (255BC-206BC and earlier). Therefore, another commonly used name of zheng is guzheng ("ancient" prounced "Gu" in Chinese).
The zither has a horizontal wooden box resonator. The resonator has an arched surface and is elongated-trapezoidal with 16 to 21 strings stretched over individual moveable bridges. Although metal strings and Nylon wound metal strings are common today, the strings of guzheng were of silk in the ancient days.
The guzheng rests on two pedestals and is played using 3 to 8 artificial nails. On the right side of the bridges, both hands may pluck the strings and on the left side, the left fingers bend the strings to change pitch or to provide embellishment. Its playing range spans three to four octaves. Zheng is a distinguished solo instrument and an accompaniment instrument for ballad singing. In the Chinese orchestra, the zheng is employed when special an effect such as the descending strains of cascading water is required. Its attraction lies on a water-rippling sound produced when its strings are plucked by fingers in a sweeping manner from the highest note to the lowest note or vice versa.