The zheng (also commonly called gu-zheng) is a plucked half-tube wood chordophone with movable bridges, over which a number of strings are stretched. It is the parent instrument of the Asian long zither family including Japanese koto and Korean gayageum. The history of the zheng can be traced back to more than 2500 years ago. In the course of this long history, the number of the strings evolved from five strings to twenty-one strings (25/26 strings zheng are also available), and the material changed from silk, steel, to metal or steel wound with nylon. It is traditionally tuned to pentatonic scales, with the right-hand pluck the right side of the bridges and the left-hand bend the left-side of the bridges to make all types of stylistic bending, sliding, and ornamentations. Many modern zheng compositions apply scales ranging from combinations of different pentatonic scales, to diatonic and semi-chromatic scales and widely expend the playing techniques and instrument expressions.

Pronunciation guidance:

Zheng (jung [rhymes with lung])/Gu-zheng (goo-jung)


The qin (also commonly called guqin) is a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the zither family. It has been played since the ancient times and traditionally favored by scholars and literati as an instrument of great subtlety and refinement. Qin is sometimes referred to by the Chinese as "the instrument of the sages". No other Chinese instrument was described and illustrated in such detail, so often depicted in paintings, mentioned in poetry, and deeply rooted in Chinese ancient philosophy. Its unique notation tablature documented the world's oldest detailed written instrumental music tradition and preserved hundreds of ancient pieces. In 1977, a recording of "Flowing Water" (Liu Shui, as performed by Guan Pinghu, one of the best qin players of the 20th century) was chosen to be included in the Voyager Golden Record, a gold-plated LP recording containing music from around the world, which was sent into outer space by NASA on the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecrafts. It is the longest excerpt included on the disc. The reason to select a work played on this specific instrument is because the tonal structure of the instrument, its musical scale, is derived from fundamental physical laws related to vibration and overtones, representing the intellectual capacity of human beings on this subject. In 2003, guqin music was proclaimed as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Pronunciation Guidance:

Qin (chin)/Gu-qin (goo-chin)