What the Pipa Says: New Age Chinese Music
New Age Music Made in China
I am a big New Age music fan. My favorite musician is Yanni. Among Asian New Age musicians, Kitaro is one of the best. However, although New Age music is very popular in China, Chinese musicians have not achieved major success in this relatively new genre, yet, comparing to their famous foreign peers.
However, there are several promising young musicians who are trying to make some China voice in this field. Li Hai is one of them.
The 2-min video above is showing “What the Pipa Says” from Lin Hai’s 2003 album “Pipa Images”.
One year, Lin Hai and his friends went on a delightful trip to southern China. They listened to Pingtan Music at a Tea House in a small water town. It was the first time that he was impressed by the timbre of a Pipa.
This experience ignited Lin Hai the passion to write a new kind of Pipa music. Usually we hear Pipa pieces that mainly demonstrate “Action”, such as Ambush from All Directions (十面埋伏), but Lin Hai would like to show a kind of moving “emotional” music. That’s how “Pipa Images” was born.
A 4-min complete version.
Making of the Album
To inspire himself, Lin Hai asked Pipa performer Jiang Yan to play all sorts of varieties of sounds that Pipa could produce as many as possible. In addition, Lin Hai used a variety of possible ways to express the Pipa. He implemented composing/arranging practices from other music genres, such as World Music, Classical Music, Jazz, Fusion, New Age, etc.
He also used many supporting instruments, both Western musical instruments (piano, guitar, bass, drums, harmonica, strings and so on) , and other Chinese traditional instruments (dizi, xiao, erhu, three-stringed lute, etc.) plus ethnic vocal singing, and then accompanied by Mongolia, Tibet, Africa and other ethnic minorities elements. All together, we have heard a different Pipa music.
What the Pipa Says: Used as Movie Original Sound Track
Actually, few people noticed this album when it was released. What made it popular was a movie: “Letters from an Unknown Woman“, which was adapted from a novel with the same name by Stefan Zweig.
“What the Pipa Says” was used throughout the entire movie as its opening theme, background music, and ending theme. The tone and emotion in the music fit the movie so well. If you want to understand stories and feelings in this song, the best approach is to watch the film. Then all the feelings will be in your heart.
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About the Artist
Lin Hai, the Producer In 1988 Lin Hai majored in piano at the China Central Music College and the next year he became the only and unprecedented Chinese nominee for the 8th Van Cliburn Musical Contest held in the U.S. As critics term it, Lin Hai is a genius whose has “an easternized right hand and a westernized left hand”. Besides, he plays improvisational jazz out of a disciplined classical background. No doubt he is a multi-cultural and Renaissance musician for the new millennium.
Jiang Yen, the Pipa Performer (Borned in 1979) Jiang Yen started her pipa training at five under Fang Jin-long and Ge Yu-huang’s instruction. In 1999 she entered Central Music College to learn from Prof. Lee Guang-hua and had been the chief pipa musician in Chinese Youth’s Ethnic String Orchestra for two years. In 2001 she was selected by the college to participate International Chamber Music Contest held in Japan and won the Award of Excellency.
Subverting conventional ideas of pipa, the talented Lin Hai now presents you a new variety of the Chinese string instrument. East and west merge into the vibes of twelve unique melodies. Folk songs, African drums, flute, piano, guitar, female vocals all interweave into pipa’s musical matrix. In which you will experience its sweetness like a murmuring stream, its lightness like jumping pearls and its magnificence like a wavering sea. The changeable images of pipa are just more than you can catch.