LPO Wu Man - pipa

The LPO presented a special concert to celebrate the Chinese new year here in New Orleans on January 31.  The program included Mahler, Stravinsky, and a Pipa concerto by chinese composer Zhao Jiping. The concerto was performed by Pipia Virtuoso Wu Man.  The Pipa is a four string 26 fret traditional Chinese instrument that has similarities to the oud and guitar.  Wu Man completely blew me away with her amazing control of this instrument. There were elements of bluegrass banjo playing, bending Blues guitar, and ferocious strumming similar to mandolin or quatro. The pipi is played  using large pitch bends on the strings to embellish and project melodies. The sound  is like a tele b- bender, but with more bends, wider bends and with lots of vibrato. When watching the performance I couldn't help but wonder how I could get some of the pipa's sound and vocabulary on the guitar.  Specifically, the use of bends, vibrato, and the fast tremolo picking. All techniques the guitar uses but not very frequently, especially in jazz. I would really like to integrate theses techniques more and have them flow musically when playing in any style. The music and playing was very inspiring. If you ever get a chance, go see Wu Man perform ( I think she performs with Yo-Yo Ma) or any other pipa performer.

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