The pipa (Chinese: 琵琶; pinyin: pípá) is a four-stringed Chinese instrument (There are a few 5-stringed versions), 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.
The pipa appeared in the Qin Dynasty and developed by 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.
Prototypes of the pipa already existed in China in the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC). At that time, there were two types of pipa. One was straight-necked, with a round sound box constructed from lacquered Paulownia wood, 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 neck, a round sound box, and also four strings, along with twelve standards of notes. This model was later developed into the instrument known today as the ruan. The modern pipa is closer to the instrument which originated in Persia/Middle-East (where it was called barbat) and was introduced into China beginning in the late Jin Dynasty (265-420 A.D.).
The average Pipa will be about: 41" L x 12.5" W x 2" D. Weighs 10 pounds.
Wikipedia has a large selection of audio and video download links. To keep things simple we have offered only one below (Which may be a slow loader, but well worth the wait) = too slow for us in China! This link works for us, but goes to a Dutch website (Holland, The Netherlands) with easy International navigation - just look top-right for video's
Information extracts reproduced from Wikipedia under 'Collective Commons License'
For Western readers new to Chinese music, we recommend you try '12 Girls Band' instead, as this is far more attuned to modern music:
Which can also be found on our Music Downloads page