The Pipa The pipa (pronounced PEE- pah) is also known in the west as a four-stringed Chinese Lute or four-stringed Chinese guitar. It is one of the oldest Chinese musical instruments, and appears in Chinese written texts of the second century BC. Xi Liu of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD) explained in his book, The definition of Terms — On Musical Instruments, that the name of the instrument pipa originally refers to two finger techniques. The two Chinese characters pi and pa stand originally for the two finger techniques, i.e. the forward and backward plucking of the strings forwards and backwards. During the Qin Dynasty (222-207 BC), there had been a kind of plucked instrument known as the xiantao, with straight neck and a round resonator; it was played horizontally. In the preface to his verse Ode to the Pipa, Xuan Fu of the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD) wrote: “…the pipa appeared in the late Qin period. When the people suffered from being forced to build the Great Wall, they played the instrument to express their resentment”. By the time of the Han Dynasty (206 BC — 220 AD), the instrument had developed into a four-stringed form with twelve frets, plucked with fingernails and known as pipa or qin-pipa. During the Western Jin Dynasty (256-316), the qin-pipa was named after the famous scholar, Ruan Xian, who was a virtuoso in such an instrument. This instrument is still known today as the ruan. INTRODUCTION TO PROGRAM 1 Dragon Boat, as the title indicates, is a musical depiction of the traditional Chinese dragon boating competition. The music consists of eight sections, somewhat like variations. Professor Zhang Hong Yan employs her own creative virtuosity to make this piece, like the other pieces on this CD, into a dazzling combination of sheer beauty and amusement 2 Like many other pieces in the traditional Pipa repertoire, Falling Snow Flakes Dotting the Verdant Trees was written by an unknown composer and was first compiled as part of Ancient Music of Yin Zhou. Falling Snow Flakes Dotting the Verdant Trees is a series of virtuoso variations in which the player fully displays the various techniques of Pipa playing. The music paints a picture of clouds flying through pine forests. 3 Moonlit Night by the Flowery Spring Lake is a charming and beautiful composition, familiar to most Chinese households. Rather than a warlike scene, here we have a piece of soothing music about nature. Under different names, this music has been popular for centuries throughout China. It was first written for Pipa solo; the first transcription for an orchestra of traditional Chinese instruments was made in 1925. Today there are many versions, both for orchestra and for chamber ensemble. As its title indicates, the music is meant to evoke a detailed night scene of a beautiful lake. When listening to this music, one could also visualise an enchanting Chinese landscape. The music begins with glissando plucking of the strings, intended to suggest the playing of drums and bells by the lake. Drums and bells were used in ancient times to indicate the hours of the day. The second section is a charming melody in a nocturnal mood. 4 High Spring and Pure Snow is a theme with seven variations, each representing a specific scene: (1) excellence (2) lotus flowers fluttering in wind (3) moonlight (4) a tranquil monastery (5) boating (6) temple music (7) the cry of the Cranes at Donggao. Each piece consists of four parts: exposition, development, variation and recapitulation. The title in Chinese-English Ping Ying transliteration is Yang Chun Bai Xue , and it symbolises refined art for the connoisseurDownload booklet
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