140

Wu Man: Pipa

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Wu Man: Pipa For the uninitiated, the pipa is the lute-like instrument one hears often when dining in Chinese restaurants. More twingy than twangy, the pipa has a much more supple, pliant sound than the guitar. It is a four stringed instrument with a pear-shaped body. Its short, bent neck has 30 frets which extend onto the soundboard, affording a 3-½ octave range. The pipa has been mentioned in ancient texts dating from the second century BCE. There is a considerable amount of pipa music extant that originated during the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD). Since the Tang Dynasty (618- 907), the pipa has been one of the most popular Chinese instruments, maintaining its solo instrument and chamber appeal. Spectacular finger dexterity and virtuosi programmatic effects characterize effective performance technique, which often combines rolls, slaps, pizzicato, harmonics and noises for dramatic effect.

The current, modern consideration of the pipa is no exception. Pipa virtuoso Wu Man combines the ancient and futuristic to produce music that is less of the Chinese restaurant and more of the opium den. From a Distance is populated with moody, dirge-like mantras that are rhythmic and harmonic musical trances. Her employment of sampling and turntablism jettisons the music deep into the 21st century. The Opening "Invocation" is perhaps the most traditional of the pieces, which, from there, become more challenging. Stuart Dempster’s didjeridu fills all space as it vibrates pieces like "Walking to the East." There, things become electrified. "Shanghai Blues" sounds as if it would fit very well on recent Jonas Hellborg offerings, with its mantra rhythms and plugged in instruments.

"Vincent’s Tune" uses a toy piano to introduce the pipa and banjos with the didjeridu providing the rich bottom of the tune, a beautifully strange fugue turned inside out and shaken really hard. The results are intoxicating and panoramic.

For more information, visit Naxos World Records .

Track Listing: Invocation; Dancing!; Ancient Spirits; Walking To The East; Shanghai Blues; Vincent

Personnel: Wu Man

Year Released: 2003 | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Malnoia CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Get 'Em CD/LP/Track Review Get 'Em
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Radioactive Landscapes EP CD/LP/Track Review Radioactive Landscapes EP
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Wake Up Call CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 24, 2017
Read The Many Minds of Richie Cole CD/LP/Track Review The Many Minds of Richie Cole
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: April 24, 2017
Read LifeCycle CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "The Pauper And The Magician" CD/LP/Track Review The Pauper And The Magician
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Iberica" CD/LP/Track Review Iberica
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 8, 2017
Read "Bandit 65" CD/LP/Track Review Bandit 65
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 13, 2017
Read "Flux" CD/LP/Track Review Flux
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 12, 2016
Read "Peace" CD/LP/Track Review Peace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 18, 2017
Read "Live At Shinjuku Pit Inn" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Shinjuku Pit Inn
by Nicola Negri
Published: September 9, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!