During the construction of the Great Wall of China, the inhabitants of the Celestial Empire, exhausted by hard work, enjoyed the sound of the ancient musical instrument pipa during short hours of rest. It was described in literature in the XNUMXth century, but scientists say that the Chinese learned to play it long before the first images appeared.
What is a Chinese pipa
This is a kind of lute, whose birthplace is South China. It is used for solo sounding, used by orchestras and for singing accompaniment. The ancients most often used the pipa to accompany recitations.
The Chinese plucked string instrument has 4 strings. Its name consists of two hieroglyphs: the first means moving down the strings, the second – back.
The Chinese lute has a pear-shaped body, smoothly turning into a short neck with ribs that form the first four fixed frets. Frets are located on the neck and fretboard, the total number is 30. The strings hold four pegs. Traditionally they were made from silk threads, modern production more often uses nylon or metal strings.
The instrument has a full chromatic scale. The sound range is defined by four octaves. Setting – “la” – “re” – “mi” – “la”. The instrument is about a meter long.
The origin of the pipa is controversial in scientific circles. The earliest references date back to the Han Dynasty. According to legend, it was created for Princess Liu Xijun, who was to become the bride of the barbarian king Wusun. On the road, the girl used it to calm her suffering.
According to other sources, the pipa does not originate from South and Central China. The most ancient descriptions prove that the instrument was invented by the Hu people, who lived outside the northwestern border of the Celestial Empire.
The version that the tool came to China from Mesopotamia is not ruled out. There it looked like a round drum with a curved neck, on which the strings were stretched. Similar copies are kept in the museums of Japan, Korea, Vietnam.
Most often, pipa is used for solo performance. It has a lyrical, meditative sound. In modern musical culture, it is used in classical performance, as well as in such genres as rock, folk.
Having gone beyond the limits of the Middle Kingdom, the Chinese lute is used by various musical groups. For example, the American group “Incunus” released an album with soothing music, the main part is performed by the Chinese pipa.
How to play
The musician plays while sitting, while he must rest his body on his knee, the neck rests on his left shoulder. The sound is extracted using a plectrum. Technically, playing the instrument is possible with the help of the nail of one of the fingers. To do this, the performer gives it an original form.
Among other Chinese instruments, the pipa is not only one of the most ancient, but also the most popular. It can be played by both men and women. Virtuosos reproduce lyrical variations, give the sound a passionate, heroic tone or elegance that can convey a wide variety of emotions.