Koto Sound Dictionary


The zheng (or cheng) is a Chinese plucked string instrument. Its earliest popularity was during the Warring States period (476-221 B.C.). It is Made of wood with wound silk strings, with the dimensions 180 cm long by 20 cm wide. Southern Chinese zheng use metal strings (steel or brass) rather than silk. There are different kinds of zheng with different numbers of strings from 12 to 16. Modern zheng's have various numbers of strings: 18, 19, 21, 23 and 25, with 21 strings being the most common.

The Japanese koto and the Korean kayagum are closely related instruments to the zheng. The koto was introduced into Japanese court music from China in the 7-8th centuries.

Here is a picture of a performer using the zheng:

Sound Examples
            MP3 (183 KB)
  performance of the 21 strings played melodically.
musical sample
            MP3 (120 KB)
  Example music played on the zheng.