The guzheng was born in China over 2500 years ago. Originally made out of bamboo and silk strings, the instrument became very popular in the imperial court during the Qin period (221 to 206 BCE), and by the Tang Dynasty (618 CE to 907 CE), it was perhaps the most popular instrument in China. According to the San Francisco Guzheng Music Society, it remained popular through the late Qing dynasty (1644 A.D. – 1911 A.D.) and into the 20th century, when, in 1948, “the renowned musician Cao Zheng established the first university level guzheng program” in the country, and the “old silk strings were replaced with nylon strings, which are still being used today.”
That’s not the only thing that’s happening today. Young musicians like Michelle Kwan are taking Westerns hit and performing them adeptly on the Guzheng. Above, we have a pretty remarkable performance of Guns N’ Roses’ 1987 hit “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” It just gets better as it goes along. In the past, we’ve also featured the Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” Performed on Traditional Chinese Instruments, including the Guzheng. Plus we’ve shown you Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile” and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Version of “Little Wing”, both played on the Gayageum, a Korean instrument directly related to the Guzheng. They’re all worth watching.