A master harpist once had two daughters. They were both accomplished musicians, both very beautiful, and he loved them both dearly. Alas, he only had one item to pass along to them: his harp. He agonized over the decision, upon which daughter to bestow his harp. Finally, he came upon the solution. One day, when he had become so old that he was no longer able to play, he had his harp cut in half and gave one half to each. To his amazement, after the instrument was cut in half it sounded even more beautiful than it had before. This is the origin of the guzheng.
It’s pronounced like Goo – Jung. Goo as in "gooey" and jung as in "jumper." A guzheng originally had 9 – 13 strings but gradually that has increased to its current size as a 21 string zither. It is laid horizontal to play, and consists of 4 full octaves plus a few, tuned to a pentatonic scale.
I first saw a guzheng about two years ago (while shopping for cellos), and I was intrigued. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Where else can you learn to play a Chinese instrument. But . . . it’s not exactly in the budget and not exactly a necessary expenditure, either.
Well, I’m a Brownie troop leader this year, and I needed a guitar to lead some songs for the Brownie troop. I intended to buy a guitar in China (since mine is in storage), so three Fridays ago, I went to the store to buy a guitar. I came home with a decent little classical style guitar (175 RMB or about $25) and a student model guzheng (980 RMB or about $130).
General info: http://www.philmultic.com/guzheng/
This video takes forever to download even at high speed, but I like it:
History of instrument with awful electronic music accompaniment: http://people.smu.edu/lzhu/guzheng/guzheng.html
Download sound file called "lotus": http://www.floridamemory.com/Collections/folklife/folklife_cd2.cfm
If you’re strongly interested, I found a site where instruments are listed for sale at very reasonable prices, plus shipping is a lot less than would be from China. They also have sound clips to demo each instrument for sale http://www.chinesezither.net/