Pipa - Chinese Lute
Traditional Chinese music instrument

Liu Fang plays pipa The pipa is a four stringed lute (or Chinese guitar) with a pear-shaped body. Its short, bent neck has 30 frets which extend onto the soundboard, offering a wide range (3.5 octavos). This instrument appears in texts dating up to the second century B.C. There are a lot of written texts of the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) about pipa music played and the stories that inspired the composition for those pipa pieces. Since the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the pipa is one of the most popular Chinese instruments, and has maintained its appeal in solo as well as chamber genres. 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. (more information ...)

[1] Qin-Pipa
[2] Tang-Pipa (with straight neckt)
[3] Tang-Pipa (With bent neck)
[4] modern pipa
- The above is an illustration of the time evolution from qin-pipa to the modern pipa through the influence of hu-pipa (click here for explanation)

Traditionally pipa is mainly a solo instrument, some time played in folk ensembles such as traditional silk and bamboo ensembles that are common found in South-East China, or used to accompany story telling, or local opera. Nowadays, the pipa is more and more used in contemporary compositions for ensemble, orchestra, and various combinations with both Chinese and western instruments, including works for pipa and orchestra (pipa concertos). (more about the history of pipa)

A brief demonstration about the pipa playing techniques

An introduction to traditional and classical music from China


Pipa Site
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Liu Fang concert live @ RTBF La Première (national radio)

Liu Fang concert live in St. Petersburg & the reportage from Russian TV


Selected video demo pieces for pipa music performed by Liu Fang

Chinese traditional pipa music
(classical tradition)

Wenqu - civil (lyrical) style
Wuqu - martial style

1.The King Chu doffs his armour (youtube here), martial style.

2. Wild geese descending on the sandy beach (lyrical style)

3. Songs from the Other Side of the Border (lyric style)

4.Autumn moon in the Palace of Han (lyrical style)

5.Falling snow decorate the evergreen (lyrical style)

6.The ambush from ten sides (martial style)

Contemporary music

Liu Tianhua (1895ş1932): On the theme of an air to dance
Wang Huiran (1936- ): Dance of Yi People
Wu Junsheng ( ): The night of the Bonfire Fest
Zeng Qingrong( ): Red river
Wang Fandi (1933-): Spring on the Tianshan Mountain

Pipa & strings

Some further topics:

2010: New CD release

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