The guqin is a string instrument of Chinese origin. It is a zither-like chordophone with seven unfretted strings that stretch across a long resonator board of approximately 43 inches. The guqin, sometimes called qin, is an ancient instrument with a pitch range of approximately four octaves.
History of the Guqin
The guqin is an ancient string instrument with no traceable inventor and a history that perhaps reaches back nearly 5,000 years. Various legends exist around its creation, long before the first discernible evidence in writings and tombs of a guqin-like instrument in China approximately 3,000 years ago. The seven-string, long physical structure of the guqin was standardised during the late Han dynasty (25 -220 AD) which saw the instrument increase in popularity among imperial aristocrats and the nobility. It is around this time that the guqin became one of four arts that Chinese scholars and noblemen were expected to master, which also included calligraphy, painting and an early form of chess. The cultural significance of this chordophone began to grow exponentially. Significant guqin practitioners from Chinese history include poet Bai Juyi of the 8th century and the emperor Zhao Kuangyi of the 10th century who were believed to have played the qin or guqin. During the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), the guqin took on spiritual significance as a method of understanding morality and making contact with gods. Multiple playing techniques and tunings developed as the instrument evolved and modern guqin now have 13 markings to indicate finger positioning. As the centuries wore on, this string instrument remained popular and was even electrified when pickups were added in the 20th century. In 2008, the guqin was inscribed by UNESCO in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

£300 - £2,000

Hear the Guqin

Audio of the Guqin is Coming Soon

How to Play

A plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the zither family, played by plucking the strings with the right hand.

In Popular Music

The guqin is rarely played in popular western music unless it is in a film score. However, the traditional chinese musical instrument is featured or played solo in many recordings of Chinese songs and pieces including 'Mist and Clouds Over the Xiang River' and 'Flowing Waters'

Famous Players

Wu Zhaoji, Guan Pinghu, Wu Wenguang

Close Relations

Pipa, Guzheng
Video Credit: Asia Society
Understanding the Guqin










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