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A standard modern pipa with white ox horn for neck and pegs

The pipa (琵琶) is a four stringed lute with a pear-shaped body. Its short, bent neck has 30 frets which extend onto the soundboard, offering a wide range (3.5 octavos). The pipa is one of the oldest Chinese musical instruments which appeared in Chinese written texts of the second century BC. The name "pipa" is made up of two Chinese syllables, "pi" and "pa". These are the two most common ways of playing this instrument. "Pi" is to push the index finger of the right hand from right to left, and "pa" is to pull the thumb of the right hand from left to right, in the opposite direction.

In the Qin Dynasty (222-207 BC), there had been a kind of pluck-instrument, known as xiantao, with straight neck and a round sound-body played horizontally. In the preface to his verse Ode to Pipa, Xuan Fu of the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD) wrote: "...the pipa appeared in the late Qin period. When the people suffered from being forced to build the Great Wall, they played the instrument to express their resentment". By Han Dynasty (206 BC -- 220 AD), the instrument developed into a form of four strings and twelve frets, plucked with fingernails and known as pipa or qin-pipa.

By combining the original Chinese lute and the Hu pipa the making of the instrument gradually became what the present pipa looks like. Meanwhile the playing method has been developed and repertoire increased. One of the greatest developments was that the left hand became totally free by holding the instrument vertically, i.e. the pipa rests on the thigh of the instrumentalists in an upright position, and was played vertically with five fingers of the right hand instead of horizontally with a plectrum

Tang Dynasty five-stringed pipa, played horizontally

The pipa technique is characterised by spectacular finger dexterity and virtuosi programmatic effects. Rolls, slaps, pizzicato, harmonics and noises are often combined into extensive tone poems vividly describing famous battles or other exciting scenes. The instrument is also capable of more lyrical effects in pieces inspired by poetry, landscapes and historical themes. Pipa music has been loved by Chinese people through centuries and there used to be a large repertoire of pipa music, a lot of them were lost, and some of them were handed down from generation to generation through individual artists and scholars.

Music Name Description Infomation Hits  
Ba Wang Bie Ji
霸 王 別 姬
King Xiang Yu said farewell to his beloved concubine mp3
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Ba Wang Xie Jia
霸 王 卸 甲
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Gan Hua Hui
趕 花 會
Going to the Flower Festival mp3
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Han Gong Qiu Yue
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The Autumn Moon over the Han Palace mp3
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Shi Mian Mai Fu
十 面 埋 伏
Surrounded by ambushes mp3
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Yang Chun Bai Xue
陽 春 白 雪
Snow on a Sunny Spring Day mp3
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Zhuang Tai Qui Si
妝 台 秋 思
The imperial concubine sorrowed for their lonely in autumn mp3
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