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Bringing the pipa to the Western World


Photo credit Chad Batka

Wu Man is recognized as the world's premier pipa player, dedicating her career to giving the ancient Chinese instrument a new role in today's music.

Born in Hangzhou, on the east coast of China, Wu Man studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she became the first person to earn a master's degree in pipa.

The Grammy Award-nominated artist is a respected expert on the history and preservation of Chinese musical traditions. In 1999, Yo-Yo Ma selected her as the City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protégé Prize in music and communication, and she is the first artist from China to have performed at the White House, along with a cellist with whom she now performs as part of the Silk Road Project.

She has been referred to as "the artist most responsible for bringing the pipa to the Western world."

About the Pipa                                                                    

The pipa is a four-stringed Chinese lute-like instrument with a history dating more than 2,000 years. During the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 BC 220 AD), instruments with long, straight necks and round resonators, with snake skin or wooden sound boards, were played with a forward and backward plucking motion that sounded like "pi" and "pa." Throughout history, the instrument has evolved, and today's pipa consists of 26 frets and six ledges, arranged as stops, and its strings are tuned to A, D, E, A.

What does it sound like? Find out in the video below!

Posted in Classics. Tagged as Classical, guest artists.

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