The sounds of eastern essence

  Woman with pipa: Pipa virtuoso Wu Man.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Pipa virtuoso Wu Man has made a new album with shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) performer Kojiro Umezaki. The album, titled Flow, was released on Feb 19.

Both musicians are members of the Silk Road Ensemble, a music project initiated by cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 1998. The two musicians composed and performed five songs in the new album by combining folk tunes, contemporary styles and elements of improvisation, which seem to create a conversation between these two ancient Chinese and Japanese musical instruments.

Their solo and duo works on this album portray seasonal changes in a traditional Chinese garden, offering the listeners a unique musical experience.

“The Chinese pipa and Japanese shakuhachi are two of the most important and recognizable instruments in the East Asian musical tradition,” says Wu. “They both date back to ancient times, and each has its own unique story, sound, technique and expressive charm.”

She adds that the music on this new album draws upon a wide range of influences-from Chinese and Japanese folk tunes to the contemporary styles that the two musicians have each cultivated over the course of their careers.

“Improvisation and timbral interplay are also important elements throughout. The shakuhachi has a distinctive sonority that always reminds me of autumn in Japan, while the lute-like pipa distinguishes itself through its characteristic tremolos and unique style of melodic ornamentation, among other qualities. Together, these two ancient musical instruments create a musical experience unlike any other,” says Wu.


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