Feifei is a renowned performing musician of the Chinese Huquin music and the instruments.
Jiaju is an accomplished player of the Chinese instrument Pipa.
In addition to running their company and practicing and performing music, both Feifei and Jiaju had collaborated deeply with DAHRC researchers Cosmo Xue and Seal Zheng in creating modernized Chinese musical instruments Erhu and Pipa, respectively, during their graduate thesis work at Pratt.
DAHRC research fellow Cosmo Shoumian Xue had created the electronic erhu during his Master of Industrial Design degree at Pratt.
In her recent piece Dance of the Strings, Feifei plays all of the instruments, including the electronic erhu created by Cosmo:
E-PA (Electronic Pipa)
E-pa was created during Seal Xi Zheng’s Master of Industrial Design thesis endeavor in the Industrial Design department of Pratt. More details can be seen here.
No Experience in Music or Instrument Building? No Problem!
Previous to this effort, the designers of the instruments, Seal Zheng and Cosmo Xue, had no experience in creating any musical instruments, and were never trained in music. Despite this reality, they also did not want their effort to be stopped at a basic level. They wanted the result to be excellent, not merely an exercise.
In order to fulfill this need and attain the desired goal, their thesis advisor and DAHRC director HyukJae Henry Yoo suggested working with the highest level experts available in the field of music and instrument building. By closely collaborating with world-class musicians and master instrument makers world wide, they were able to acquire decades of knowledge and experience in a very short amount of time in concentrated manner in order to successfully create their instruments.
The instruments are of sufficient quality and playability to be used for performances and studio recording.
Master violin maker Sam Zygmuntowicz was available for critique of the E-pa in his Brooklyn studio:
More details on the background and preparation for the Carnegie Hall performance event is available on Beyond Chinatown.