The pipa is one of the many instruments depicted in wall paintings at the cave temples of Dunhuang. But what did this music sound like? Pipa virtuoso and Silk Road Ensemble member Wu Man explores the origins of the instrument and discusses her efforts to recreate the ancient music inspired by fragments of musical notations from the site’s Library Cave (Cave 17).

Wu Man spoke with Helen Rees, professor of ethnomusicology and director of the World Music Center at UCLA.

Wu Man at the Getty Conservation Institute

Wu Man at the Getty Conservation Institute, June 14, 2016. Photo: Sarah Waldorf. © J. Paul Getty Trust. All rights reserved

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Helen Rees: How do you see the pipa and the music of the pipa in the Chinese music world today, in the second decade of the 21st century?

Wu Ma: I think the pipa instrument itself and the music is still very lively in China in the modern society right now, today....

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