Music and Videos

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Traditional Music from the Qin Dynasty

During the reign of Emperor Qin prototypes or the first models of the pipa (pee-paa) were made.  The pipa (Chinese: 琵琶; pinyin: pípá) is one of the most popular instruments in China, and one of the oldest.  Sometimes called the Chinese lute, it is a four-stringed, pear-shaped string instrument that in some form has been played for nearly two thousand years in China.  The strings are plucked rather than played with a bow.  Several instruments in Asia are also related to the pipa, and include the Japanese biwa, the Vietnamese đàn tỳ bà, and the Korean bipa.

Qinqiang Opera

Qinqiang opera originated in the Shaanxi province and is the oldest of Chinese operas.  It is thought to have first appeared in the Qin Dynasty, and subsequently became refined through the Han, Tang, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.

For more examples visit:

Modern Opera

Plácido Domingo stars as Emperor Qin in the opera, The First Emperor, by Academy Award winning composer Tan Dun (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon). Filmed live at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

The Beauty and Drama of Chinese Opera

Taipei Eye, example of Chinese Opera. Copyright © 2006 David Monniaux

Taipei Eye, example of Chinese Opera. Copyright © 2006 David Monniaux

Cantonese Opera

Cantonese Opera

Beijing Opera

Beijing Opera

Chinese Fusion Music

Fusion music is a combination of musical forms, styles and even instruments.  This video combines ancient Chinese instruments, including the pipa, guzheng (plucked zither), dizi (transverse flute, one held to the side when played), along with the violin, in a playing of “Scarborough Fair,” which is an old English song that goes back at least three centuries.  Today, “Scarborough Fair” continues to be a popular song, with one of the most recognized versions recorded by the American singing duo Simon and Garfunkel (originally recorded in 1968).  If you want to hear their version, click on the video below.

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