From Academic Kids

This article is about pipa, a musical instrument. For the acronym PIPA, see Program on International Policy Attitudes.

A pipa (琵琶, pinyin pp) is a traditional Chinese musical instrument. Sometimes called the Chinese lute, the instrument has a pear-shaped body. It had more than two thousand years of history in China, and belongs to the group of plucking intruments.(彈撥樂器) A related instrument is the Japanese Biwa.

Missing image
A woman plays the pipa in the New York City Subway's Times Square Station, 2004.

The name "pipa" is made up of two Chinese syllables, "Pi"(琵) and "Pa"(琶). 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. The strings were originally played by the fingernails of the right hand, but since the revolutions in Chinese instrument making, the softer silk strings of earlier times have been exchanged for metal strings encased in nylon, far too strong for human fingernails, so false nails are now used, constructed of plastic or tortoiseshell, and fixed to the fingertips with the player's choice of elastic tape.

Prototypes of the pipa already existed in China in the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206/207 BC). At that time, there were two types of pipa. One was straight-stemmed, with a round sound box, and two faces mounted with leather. The other was believed to be inspired by the primitive forms of zheng, konghou, and zou. It also has a straight stem, a round sound box, and also four strings along with twelve standards of notes. This model later became developed as the ruan. The modern pipa is closer to the instrument which originated in India and flown into China from the late Jin Dynasty.

The pipa became a favourite in the Tang Dynasty. Many delicately carved pipas with beautiful inlaid patterns date from this period. We can even see the masses of pipa-playing buddhist semi-deities in the wall paintings of Dunhuang.

Wu Man is a virtuoso of the pipa, taught by Lin Shicheng of the Pudong school. She received the first Master's degree in the pipa and won the first National Academic Competition for Chinese Instruments.

Min Xiao-Fen and Jiang Ting are also contemporary pipa players.

The fruit pipa (枇杷) is named after this instrument.

External link

eo:Pipa fr:Pipa ja:琵琶 nl:Pipa ru:Пипа (инструмент) zh:琵琶


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