The guqin sounds a little like a blues slide guitar. Think of
the melancholy sounds of 1920s blues legend Robert Johnson and
1980s slide guitar king Ry Cooder. Cooder's soundtracks of "Paris
Texas" and "Southern Comfort" are good examples, however the rhythm
of the Chinese music is slower and more measured.
Just like a blues slide guitar player, the guqin player slides
his or her fingers down the instrument's fret board, creating
sliding, softer tones. The player may pluck the string once, yet
produce five or six different notes.
Harmonics are also a major feature. The player lightly touches
the note on the fret board and plucks the string creating a high,
light and harp-like resonating sound. Extended passages consisting
entirely of harmonics are common.
Visit www.guqin.org and www.ukchinesemusic.com/londonyoulanqin/
to hear examples of music.
(China Daily November 7, 2006)