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The Guzheng - A Traditional Chinese Plucked Instrument

Dr. John Chiu

Dr. John C. Chiu is a respected Thousand Oaks, California physician who provides spine surgery patients with advanced pathways to wellness and recovery. An aficionado of philosophy, the martial arts, and classical Chinese music, Dr. John C. Chiu plays the guzheng, or Chinese zither.

One of the primary instruments of the art form, the guzheng lies horizontally and contains 21 strings in its standard modern version. Unlike the seven tone Western heptatonic scale, which encompasses whole and half steps, the guzheng is tuned to a traditional Asian five-tone or pentatonic scale.
Typically played with gentle plucking and cascading strums, the larger guzheng evolved within traditional court life. Starting out with five strings made from catgut, the expanded instrument now often has steel strings. Changing keys is accomplished through the use of adjustable bridges, with the right hand used to pluck and the left hand to manipulate the strings using pressure. Advanced players add complexity and tempo by plucking competing melodies, harmonies, and rhythms with both hands at the same time.

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