If it is about guzheng, if there is anything to see and if there is anyone from the guzheng industry to meet – Lunlun Zou is there. This year’s Music China trade show in Shanghai was no exception.

First in History

Even before the show started, Lunlun met with masters Xu Zhen Gao and Xu Ting Dong. She was helping out while Peter Kahl was taking lessons from Master Xu Zhen Gao and thus became the first non-Chinese guzheng-making apprentice in the history of the world. Peter Kahl hopes to design and build his own guzheng and offer it to the market during Q1 2006. His effort is closely supervised by both masters Xu.

Health Hazard

The music instrument trade show Music China is only a small part of the monstrous ProLight+Sound trade show. This is the largest music-related trade show, attracting manufacturers and buyers from every corner of the world. For 3 days, from 19-21 October, huge crowds flooded the exhibition halls, making it impossible to walk in a straight line. You even had to clear the way for pizza delivery motorcycles which were driving directly through the crowds. If you were lucky, you could hear music instruments from every direction, if you were not, you were subjected to ear drum-breaking demonstrations of mega-decibell speaker systems, made for rock’n’roll concerts. Yes, the show was a health hazard to the body.

New Products

The Music China section of the show was only a relative oasis. Familiar faces, instruments and sounds made Lunlun feel at home. She paid visit to most instrument manufacturers and carefully examined their products. Some guzheng makers were proudly displaying their approach to innovation of the guzheng instrument. Mr. Liu’s Yayun factory was introducing electronic and key-changing guzhengs. The Dunhuang guzheng factory focused on appearance with their spicy-looking guzhengs in the shape of a surfboard, covered with modern car paint. These will undoubtedly make many adolescents very excited. Only time will tell whose approach will survive the commercial viability test of these instruments.

“Let’s harness the eastern wind of the Shenzhou 6!”

Business has been good for most of the guzheng manufacturers. Everyone seemed to be in good mood, especially in the light of the recent flight of Chinese astronauts into space. Lunlun Zou overheard someone saying: “Let’s harness the eastern wind of the Shenzhou 6 to make the guzheng instrument even better!”

Feeling Disturbed

Rather disturbing was to see the lack of respect of the Chinese manufacturers to intellectual property rights (IPR). Whether this practice is legal or illegal, none of them seem to understand the obvious disadvantages of stealing each other’s designs. By shamelessly making their own products indiscernible from others, they hurt themselves, the original manufacturer, the consumer, and the reputation of the Chinese nation and the guzheng instrument industry in whole. It will be no surprise to see copies of the newly introduced products within few months. Lunlun Zou hopes that one day, China will grow up and put a stop to this immoral practice.