November 18, 2011

Guzheng (Chinese Zither)

My very talented Sibu friend Yang Yi Fang is a well known Sibu journalist/author. One hidden talent she has is her skills on the GuZheng. At one time she taught several students this instrument in order to perpectuate traditional Chinese music and of course for the love of music.

I was once very keen to take up this instrument because my good doctor told me that it was a good instrument to play to "soothe the soul" but it was a daunting task because I could not find a Guzheng teacher in Miri at that particular time.

When I visited her she was so kind as to give a solo performance for me and I was really thrilled. That became a very memorable part of my hometown visit - listening to Guzheng played just for myself - few people would have that kind of privilege.

Guzheng music can help transport you to another world and help you to reflect more.

T








The Chinese character for "zheng"() is composed of two parts: the upper part means "bamboo"() and the lower part is "argue" (). According to a legend, there was a master of se (), 25-stringed zither, who had two talented daughters who loved playing the instrument. Now there came a time that the master became too old, and wanted to pass his instrument over to one of them. However, both daughters wanted to have it. The master felt very sad that he had only one instrument, and in the end, out of desperate, he decided to split the instrument into two - one got 12 strings, and the other 13. To his amazement, the new instrument sounds mellow and even more beautiful than its original. The happy master gave the new instrument a new name "zheng" by making up the character with the symbolisms representing "bamboo" and "argue". The word "zheng", the name of this instrument, pronounces the same as the word "zheng" which means "argue" or "dispute". The origin of the Chinese character representing this instrument seems to indicate that the early version of the instrument was made of bamboo, which is different from that of today. However, this legend, though it might be true according to the origin of the Chinese character for this instrument, should not be taken too seriously. It might well be the case that the character  is just "borrowed" here for the name of instrument  due to the fact that its pronunciation is a closer imitation of the sound the instrument produces. It is very common is Chinese literature, particularly in ancient poems, to described the sound of the guzheng as "zheng zheng", similar to the case of pipa.(http://www.philmultic.com/guzheng/)


Today the Guzheng has a new position in any good orchestra be it western or eastern. The CCTV and other medium (e.g. Youtube) have helped increased its popularity and more and more young people are taking up the instrument.

For me its music will always remind me of the pure water which used to flow down the Rajang River...bringing life to the people. Its music will always encourage me to live better and be stronger!! It  also reminds me of how hard my ancestors worked to turn formidable terrain into cultivated and bountiful gardens!!

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

i noticed that ,you must keep all your fingernails and properly trimmed to the shape of a guitar pick. when played at night or in the evening ,the sound or music from a Guzheng is exhilarating

Anonymous said...

solly,forgot to sign just now my 1st comment,here goes....

- Ah Ngao

Ann said...

I am never musical, in pri school, my dad's boss, at that time, the Ang Mos, gave my dad two beautiful Chinese musical instruments. Thought we kids might like to play with them. Play we did, but we were so rough, the bridge bits came off. I never quite appreciate Chinese music, even now.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao..right hand must have specially moldified guitar picks taped to the fingers. And left hand use all the fingers (the balls of the fingers) to press the strings or vibrate the strings at times...or press for a long time...this is an instrument which really use all our fingers...ambidextrous.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao...no worries. Am glad you tell me who you are!! But you are still Ah Ngao...and what is behind that name? hehehehe

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann..kids have their own stories to tell. My young daughters were good climbers. One climbed up a TV and brought it down. Bit the younger one and sat on dad's guitar...all in just minutes!! Luckily the TV did not fall on the younger kid and she was too light to really break the guitar into two...worst scenario...the tv fell on all three!!

That's childhood..but we were glad nothing tragic happened and were able to be humourous about it.

Am glad my kids are musical but not concert performers.

Anonymous said...

well...,i think its no harm lah ho?- telling you why i use Ah Ngao as my signage . Ah Ngao is what my "ku ma or ku mas"(my father's sisters)call my father. sometimes they call him(my father) Ngaochai(little cow in Cantonese). once a while i still dream of my father.although he's not around anymore,i miss him a lot.never knew how until a person is taken away from you,then we realized how much we all should cherish/loves more of our loves ones.

- Ah Ngao

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao...thanks for the explanation...I am sure you miss your dad...

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