Developed during the Qin Dynasty (222-207 BC), the pipa is a plucked Chinese string instrument. Sometimes called the Chinese lute, the pipa has a pear-shaped wooden body. It has been played for nearly two thousand years in China, and belongs to the plucked category of instruments The name pipa is made up of two Chinese syllables, “pí” and “pa.” These are the two most common ways of playing the instrument. “Pí” is to push the fingers of the right hand from right to left, thus more than one finger can be used at a time striking multiple notes, and “pá” is to pull the thumb of the right hand from left to right, in the opposite direction. By the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), the pipa was one of the most popular instruments and has maintained its appeal in solo as well as chamber genres ever since. The pipa employs a 12-tone chromatic scale and is played upright. It has six inverted frets and up to twenty four bamboo frets. A very difficult instrument to master, there are more than 70 techniques used to play the pipa.
Saxian means “3 strings” can be traced back to Qin dynasty, 3rd century BC. Sanxian’s sound character is a bit similar to banjo. Sanxian is still widely used in all kinds of folk musical acts and performances everywhere. Pingtan (評彈), is usually performed as a duet of a pipa and a sanxian. Appreciating this kind of local forms of musical performances characterizes that China is, once again, embracing her own historical music tradition Chinese.
Ruan: the moon guitar. Ruan is a Chinese plucked instrument with a history of 2,000 years. It is believed that the pipa in the ancient China was actually more like today’s ruan. In modern China, ruan is widely used in all sorts of musical context.
Min has taught many master classes and has been an artist-in-residence at schools and universities across the United States and Europe, including:
– The Juilliard School
– Manhattan School of Music
– Boston Conservatory
– The New School
– Renaissance Arts Academy
– Columbia University
– Haystack Mountain School of Arts & Crafts
– James Madison University, Wellesley College
– University of California at San Diego
– Pittsburgh’s CAPA High School
– Brooklyn Friends School
– University of Michigan
– Yale University
– Amsterdam Conservatory
– University of Gothenburg
– Romon C. Corrine’s High School