Post Top Ad

Your Ad Spot

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither)

How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) How to Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither)

The Guzheng is an incredibly unique and interesting instrument to play. Many people like the sound of a guzheng because it can be soothing and relaxing. If you have access to a guzheng, this wikiHow will teach you the basics and how to get a great sound out of it.


[Edit]Learning the Basics

  1. Understand the structure of the guzheng.[1] You should see two sides of the guzheng: the right and left sides. You should have 21 bridges for each of the 21 strings on each of the strings.
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 1 Version 2.jpg
    • The box on the rightmost part of the guzheng can be opened and is usually used to store essentials, such as artificial nails and tuners. The box is usually called the head.
    • There should be wood holding up your guzheng. You can adjust these to fit your height.
    • On the far left, there is something called an "S-bridge." These are the holes where the strings travel down. The "S-bridge" is just to the tail's right, which is the farthest left part.
    • All of the wood between the head and the S-bridge is the soundboard.
  2. Learn how to put on your artificial nails. Guzheng players will need artificial long nails so they can play the strings. The nails are usually a brown-white marble color. For beginners, you'll usually need 4 of them, including the special one for the thumb. You can get these at a Chinese instrument shop.
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 1.jpg
    • Get the tape. The tape comes in many colours and is used to stick the nails to the fingers. You'll need about of tape for each nail.
    • Stick one end of the tape to the nail.
    • Put the nail before your first joint on your finger and wrap the tape around the finger. [2]
      • You should have about 2.5 loops. If you don't, you may need to get more/less tape to fit your finger.
    • Test the nail on the guzheng to see if it works by plucking a string.
    • Use the above steps for the middle, index, and ring fingers.
    • For the thumb, follow the same steps, except you should turn the nail at a 45-degree angle to the left.
    • You'll need to get new tape once every week or so, as sweat and other things cause it to be less sticky.
    • As you get later into your studies, you'll also need tape and nails for your left hand.
  3. Learn the basics of plucking the strings of the guzheng. When plucking the strings, you shouldn't emphasize your wrist, but instead, you should use your fingers to pluck the strings. Practice moving your fingers into a curve, then back up.[3] These are the basic techniques for plucking:
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 2.jpg
    • To pluck the string with your thumb, position your thumb at a place where it will be able to make a sound out of the string. If you put on your nail correctly, the thumb should be able to pluck the string. Remember not to move your whole hand, but just the thumb's joint.
      • The name for the thumb's plucking is "tuo." In music, its symbol is a shape of a right angle.
    • To pluck the string with your index finger, tuck all the other fingers in your palm. Use your index finger to pluck the string, and during that, quickly move it so it aligns with the other fingers in the palm.
      • The name for the index finger's plucking is "mo." Its symbol is a slash.
    • Pluck the string with your middle finger. Do the same as you would with the index finger, except using the middle finger.
      • The name for the middle finger is "gou." Its symbol is a rainbow-like shape.
    • Try using your ring finger to pluck. Only do this when you have mastered the other 3. Pluck it the same way as your index finger.
      • This is called "da." A mountain-like structure represents it.
    • During, before, and after plucking, your other fingers should be curved in your hand.
    • Sometimes when playing a very fast-paced song, you might need to keep the fingers close to the strings to pluck them quickly. In the beginning, you don't need to worry about this, though.
    • You can also connect notes. Instead of playing just one individual note for each note, you can play multiple notes, lifting and plucking the last note of the sequence. The note's finger denotes it for the first note, and hyphens on top of the other notes. Make sure to lift and pluck for the last hyphen you see.
  4. Understand how to tune your guzheng. To tune your guzheng, open the box on the right end of the guzheng. There should be many little silver rod-shaped keys. To do the steps below to tune it, you should have a tuner to check your notes and a lever to adjust the strings. If you don't have a tuner on you, you can find an app or online website to tune your guzheng.
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 3.jpg
    • Play a note on your guzheng while the tuner is on. If the tuner indicates that your note is correct, go to the next note.
    • If it flashes a red light, figure out what to do. If the line is pointing toward the left, it is flat, and the string needs tightening. To do this, get your lever and position it on the corresponding silver key to the note. Push it forward a bit. Then recheck it, then repeat.
    • If the line is pointing to the right, it is sharp, and it needs to be looser. Do the opposite of the above: push it back to loosen the string.
    • Repeat for all strings.
  5. Learn to read the notes. In guzheng music (Jian Pu), there are only 5 notes: 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6. 4 and 7 can be made by manipulating the strings, but the basic five are the pentatonic scale.
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 4.jpg
    • Beginners will usually start using D major. This is denoted by "1=D" on top of the music.
    • The numbers represent each note. For example, in D major, 1 would be D, 2 would be E, 3 would be #F, etc.
    • To understand which note is which, find the green strings on your guzheng. Every green string represents an octave. In D major, every green string is 5.
    • Counting down from the green string, the notes are 3 and 2.
    • Counting towards you from the green string, the notes are 6 and 1.
    • Next, you'll need to learn the octaves of Chinese music. The highest note, 1, on the guzheng, is the string that is closest to you. The lowest note, also 1, is the string that is furthest away from you. The highest 1 will have 2 dots above it in sheet music. So, that will be represented by 1 with 2 dots above it. The lowest 1 will have 2 dots below 1.
    • The second note that is most towards you is 6. It will have only 1 dot above it.
    • The second note that is farthest from you will be 2. It will have 2 dots below it in Chinese music.
    • Note that you will try G and A scales when you get more advanced, where "1=G" or "1=A," respectively. It can be done by manipulating the wooden blocks or tuning to a different note. In G major, every green string is 2, and the topmost/bottommost note is 5.
  6. Understand how to read rhythm. Guzheng music uses lines below the numbers.
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 6 Version 2.jpg
    • Notes without any lines below them are worth 2 beats. They have a hyphen-looking character to the right of them. If there are two hyphens to the right, it's worth 4 beats.
    • Notes without any lines below them without the hyphen are worth 1 beat.
    • Notes with one line below them are worth half a beat.
    • Notes with two lines below them are worth 1/4 of a beat.
    • Notes with three lines below them are worth 1/8 of a beat.
    • Notes without any lines below them with a dot to the right can be worth 1.5 beats or 3/4 of a beat. If the note has one line and a dot below it, it's worth 3/4 of a beat. If there isn't a line below it and has a dot, it's worth 1.5 beats.
  7. Play a simple song. There are many simple songs you can find on the internet, so try one!
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 5.jpg
    • Go for songs with a simple rhythm, as those are easier for beginners.
    • Don't play something like "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" as that requires a 4. Since it requires more technique to play 4 on the guzheng, it's best if you don't try as a beginner. Learning to pluck and getting basic knowledge of the strings are the top priorities.

[Edit]Learning Intermediate Techniques

  1. Try doing a glissando. A glissando is when you start at one string then move the hand to pluck every single string until you stop at another string. It is similar to piano glissando.
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 6.jpg
    • When doing a glissando with your thumb, shift the other parts of your hand forward.
    • This motion is denoted by a star shape when you need to do a glissando with your thumb (often to a note). It can also be denoted as a normal piano glissando shape with the direction you're going.
    • If a glissando is right before a note, it can be denoted as a star shape with two lines below it, just to the left of a note. When playing these, the glissando is played using your thumb and is going the direction away from you. Make it fast to stay on beat!
    • Glissandos don't have to start from the top of the guzheng.
  2. Try plucking away from your palm. This is the opposite of basic plucking. This takes practice, but the result is worth it!
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 7.jpg
    • Start by doing this with your thumb, then move on to other fingers.
    • This can be done by any finger, though the pinky rarely does it.
    • The notation for this will be the opposite of the notation for normal plucking with that finger. For example, for the thumb, the normal notation is a right angle. For plucking away, it'll be rotated 180 degrees.
    • The term for plucking away from your palm with your thumb is called "pi."
  3. Play some chords. Using your right hand, use your thumb and another finger to play a chord (two notes together).
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 8.jpg
    • There are 2 forms of this - playing a chord with your index and thumb, middle finger and thumb.
    • For 2 notes with less than 4 other notes between them, use your index and thumb.
    • For 2 notes that have 4 or more, use your middle finger.
    • In extreme cases when the distance between the two notes is very large, you use the thumb and ring finger. Sometimes the left hand can play the other note.
    • Make sure not to touch other keys when playing the chord.
    • This will be denoted by two notes on top of each other. Play the two notes you see.
    • Chords can also be done with 3 fingers or 4 fingers, but the most common is 2 fingers.
    • Don't let your nails come in contact with each other after playing the chord; otherwise, your nails will collide and hit each other.
  4. Incorporate your left hand. Here are a couple of ways you can do this:
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 10.jpg
    • Remember that to press down on a string, use your index, middle, and ring fingers. Use your fingertips. This also works if you have nails on.
    • When playing the note 3, on the other side of the guzheng (your left side), press down on the string. The note will turn to a 4.
    • To play 7, pluck the note 6 while pressing down on the other side.
    • Use your left hand on the right side to do some simple glissandos and chords/notes. When a piece of music wants you to do this, it'll have two "sections" for right and left hands, just like in western notation.
    • Right after playing any note, lightly press down and wiggle your wrist on the corresponding string on the left side to do vibrato. A squiggly line denotes this on top of a note. If you see a squiggly line on top of a chord, you should do this effect on the top note. You can also press down heavily to create a stronger effect.
    • Pluck any note on the right side and then press down on the left side. For example, you could try plucking 3 without doing anything, then less than a second later, pressing down on the left side to 4. An arrow denotes this from one note to the next. It can also be denoted as an arrow pointing up. This is called portamento (and the same word for the next point). [4]
    • Try doing the same as above, except backward. Press down on any note, play it, then let go. An arrow can also denote this to the next note, or an arrow pointing down.
    • Try sweeping. Use your nails on the left hand (it may help to put on artificial nails) and sweep your nails on the right side's lower strings. It should create a banging noise. A screwdriver-like symbol denotes this. You can also do sweeping after a glissando using your thumb to push the end of the guzheng.
  5. Try doing arpeggios.[5] This technique is an essential one and is used in various songs.
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 12.jpg
    • You can do this with your left hand or right hand.
    • Find the notes you want to do the arpeggio on. Usually, it'll be 4 notes, but there are arpeggios with 3 notes or two notes in rare cases.
    • Place your fingers so they're ready to play the notes. When the arpeggio is 4 notes, the 4 fingers are your ring finger, middle finger, index finger, and thumb. When it's 3 notes, the 3 fingers are your middle finger, index finger, and thumb. Don't play it just yet.
    • Pluck the strings, starting from the string farthest away from you.
    • Keep on plucking until all the strings are plucked.
    • Remember to move your fingers in after plucking!
    • This is denoted by a vertical squiggly line with the 4 (or 3) notes to the squiggly line's right.
  6. Play harmonics.[6] These are notes that sound like bells and an octave higher than what is expected from that note. They are softer than normal plucking.
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 13.jpg
    • This is denoted by a circle on top of a note.
    • Move your left hand to the right side of the guzheng.
    • Find the note you want to play.
    • Locate the approximate midpoint from where the string starts at the head to the string's bridge and put your left pinky on the midpoint.
    • Play the note.
    • Just after you play the note, lift your pinky.
    • If you get a sound like wood clanking, make sure your pinky is correctly positioned. Try lower notes first, as those are easier and have more wiggle room for the pinky.
  7. Learn the "finger shake."[7] This technique requires a lot of practice and is used to replace long notes. Since long notes can't be played easily with the guzheng, the finger shake is an essential thing to learn.
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 9 Version 2.jpg
    • The finger shake is denoted by three straight lines at a 45-degree angle to the right of a note.
    • Put your hand in the finger shake position. Put the side of your index finger on the tape of your thumb. Relax the other fingers of your hand, and straighten your pinkie.
    • Find the string you want to hold a long note on and place your straightened pinkie outside the strings on the side. Put it at a comfortable distance. Usually it's one or two strings counting from the note away from you.
    • Put your elbow up and wrist down (this will help you do the finger shake easily).
    • Start the finger shake. Pretend you're twisting a doorknob or waving goodbye, and twist your wrist towards you, playing your desired note with your thumb (remember that this is called pi!). Then, twist in the other direction away from you (tuo). Your elbow should remain relatively still. You'll have to go slowly and gradually make your way to a continuous note.
    • Keep on twisting your wrist front and back to pluck the note with your thumb.
    • Practice this until your speed increases.
    • This is a hard skill to master, so you'll need a lot of practice to get it right.
    • Remember to relax your hand.
    • You can add modifications to the finger shake. For example, you could let go of your pinky and shake it in thin air, and/or use your other 2 fingers (middle and ring) to sweep the strings farther away from the note you're holding. Remember to master the basic way first, though.
  8. Improve the looks of your playing. This will allow your playing to seem more elegant and beautiful.
    Play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) Step 11.jpg
    • When playing a long note (2 beats), raise your hand after playing the note, slowly drop it, and get ready for the next note.
    • When playing a note that's supposed to sound soft, position your hands towards the left side of the tuned side of the guzheng. When playing a louder note, position your hands towards the right (head).
    • When playing a glissando from the last note to the first note towards you, lift your hand at the glissando's end.
    • When your right hand and left hand are about to play together, lift them simultaneously.
    • When moving from one string to another on the left side, turn your hand so your fingertips are pointing to the right and then moving to the next note. Make this movement fluid.


  • When tuning your guzheng, don't tighten it too much, or you can risk breaking one of the strings.

[Edit]Things You'll Need

  • Working guzheng
  • Artificial nails
  • Special tape
  • Sheet music
  • Tuner
  • Teacher (optional)


Digital Trend, New tech, tech news, wikiHow

No comments:

Post a Comment

Compare & get cheapest Flights

Post Top Ad