Delight in Traditional Chinese Culture With the Sound of Pipas

A pipa is the Chinese version of a lute, and itu001as what many refer to as the "king" of Chinese instruments. It has a fretted neck and pear-shaped body with a rounded back. If you enjoy traditional music and want to add the pipa to your collection, check out all of the affordable ones available on eBay.

The origins of the pipa

According to sources, the pipa has been circulating throughout its home country for at 2,000 years. It is even referenced in ancient texts that may date back as early as the second century AD. It is not clear how the lute came to be available in China. Evidence suggests that stringed instruments, like the pipa, may have been in China since the period of the Qin Dynasty, which lasted from 221 to 206 B.C.

Researchers tie the lutes origins to Central Asia. There is also a theory that stringed instruments came to China from the Indian subcontinent. Some sources state that the instrument may have some connection to the pear-shaped lutes that are pictured in artworks from one of the earliest Indian civilizations, the Kushan empire. The pipa is considered to have been an essential element of Chinese culture during the Tang Dynasty.

While a five-string version exists, the Chinese lute typically contains four strings. Also, the pipa has played a role in the construction of several other instruments in other parts of Asia, such as the biwa in Japan, bipa in Korea, and dan ty ba in Vietnam. At one time, this instrument was played a bit differently than it is today; a plectrum was used to pluck the strings. In todays world, people simply use their fingers to produce the sounds.

What materials used to make a pipa?
  • Strings: Up to the mid-20th century, the strings were made of silk. Strings are now made with nylon-wound steel material. The steel strings are said to produce a stronger and brighter sound.
  • Soundboard: The soundboard is constructed with wutong wood.
  • Frets and turning pegs: These parts are made from buffalo horns or wood, and the lower frets are made from bamboo. Concerning the number of frets, the lute can have up to 31. The least number of frets a pipa has is 12. The more frets it has, the more its control youu001all have over the pitch.
What musicians are known for using this instrument?

Over its 2,000-year history, the pipa has become one of the most widely used instruments in China. Its distinct sound has made its way into different genres, like classical, rock, and jazz. As the device isnt exclusive to just Chinese musicians, several artists and bands of the Western world have incorporated its styles into their music. Among those musicians are Philip Glass, the band Incubus, and Bjork. Notable players from the home country are Wu Man, Zhao Cong, and Liu Fang.

Historical figures of the early dynasties have also been noted to have played the instrument. A woman named Wang Zhaojun, who lived during the Han dynasty, is depicted in numerous pieces of art with this lute in her hands.