Tuesday, October 19, 2010

琵琶 pípá

The pipa (Chinese: 琵琶; pinyin: pípá) is a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, belonging to the plucked category of instruments (弹拨乐器/彈撥樂器). Sometimes called the Chinese lute, the instrument has a pear-shaped wooden body with a varying number of frets ranging from 12–26. Another Chinese 4 string plucked lute is the liuqin, which looks like a smaller version of the pipa.
The pipa appeared in the Qin Dynasty (221 - 206 BCE) and was developed during the Han Dynasty. It is one of the most popular Chinese instruments and has been played for nearly two thousand years in China. Several related instruments in East and Southeast Asia are derived from the pipa; these include the Japanese biwa, the Vietnamese đàn tỳ bà, and the Korean bipa. The Korean instrument is the only one of the three that is no longer used.

Liu Fang (simplified Chinese: 刘芳; traditional Chinese: 劉芳) (born 1974) is one of the most prominent pipa players in the world. Born in Kunming in the Chinese province of Yunnan, she began playing the pipa at the age of 6. Her first solo public performance was at the age of 9. In 1986, at age 11, she played for Queen Elizabeth II. Her studies at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music broadened her musical range and allowed her to study the guzheng. At the age of 22, Liu Fang immigrated to Canada and is now a Canadian citizen, currently residing in Montreal. The decision to move to Quebec allowed her virtuosic playing to reach a wider international audience.

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