Chinese Instruments

Overview of instruments


The guzheng is a long-boxed plucked zither with 21 strings. It is played with artificial nails attached to the player’s fingertips. The tuning of the instrument can be adjusted by moving the bridges on the instrument, or adjusting the tension of the strings.


The guqin is a long-boxed plucked zither with 7 strings, which are played with natural fingernails. The strings are strung close to the body of the instrument, which also acts as a fingerboard, allowing for wide pitch changes. While the instrument is not fretted, markings are given on the body of the guqin indicating harmonic nodes.


The yangqin is a hammered dulcimer consisting of sets of 4 or 5 strings tuned to the same pitch. There are over 48 sets of strings on the instrument, in order to encompass a fully chromatic range of over 4 octaves. The strings are struck with bamboo mallets with rubber mallet-heads.


The pipa is a large lute which comprises of four strings and a fretted soundboard. The instrument is held vertically in the player’s lap. The right hand plucks the strings while the left hand changes the pitch using the frets.


The erhu has two strings, traditionally tuned a fifth apart. The instrument is played with the string parallel to the performer’s body, and the bow between both strings. While the instrument has a unique timbre, many performance techniques are similar or related to the performance of the Western violin.