Photo: "Garyan Wong - China Spirit Music Ensemble - Oakland Asian Cultural Center Winter Gala" by --Mark--, used under CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0
Guzheng music has evolved so much over the centuries. Players have been making music for thousands of years, but if you head out into the world today you are likely to encounter music of a few distinct categories. First up, music that roughly fits in the world of "Traditional". Here are two examples of famous, well known songs as interpreted by the fantastic Wáng Zhōngshān.
"High Mountains, Flowing River"
"Fisherman's Song at Eventide"
"Battling the Typhoon" is one particularly famous song. It was premiered in the tumultuous 1970s amid the musical reorganization in China, gaining popularity and cementing the guzheng's future by demonstrating the instrument's range and power.
Battling the Typhoon (戰台風, Zhàn Táifēng) played by Wáng Chāngyuán (王昌元) , the original artist.
Where originally the guzheng was part of an ensemble, one of many instruments, its rising popularity led to an increase in guzheng-only groups who split different sections of songs between them - melodies and solos, as well as high or low parts were mixed together to create impressive experiences.
Melody of the Han River (漢江韻, Hànjiāng Yùn)
Wáng Zhōngshān (王中山), Liú Yǐng (劉穎), and Yīn Hánhán(殷晗晗)
Music continued to evolve and musicians continued to experiment. The last few decades have been no different; entirely new forms of music are being tested and tried, either with just the instrument or alongside more modern instruments (or backing tracks).
An experimental duet by musicians Chénlè (沈樂) and Yángyáng (楊陽) titled "Eight Faces of the Wind" (bā miàn fēng, 八面風)
Both are playing a more recent guzheng variant with a divided mid section called a "Multitonic Zheng"
A rescoring of the tune Senbonzakura by Hatsune Miku, a vocaloid.
And there you have it, a brief sampler of guzheng music. There is much more to share and discuss, but that will have to wait for a future article.
Original idea for the article and some of the musical pieces were sourced by E. Teo of Massachusetts.