Almanac recently shared a rare musical pairing – the oud and the pipa.  These two instruments, with roots in Syrian and Chinese cultures, are rarely played in professional duet, but for many years now, Gao Hong and Issam Rafea have been experimenting with their potential.

The two musicians have embraced an improvisational style in which no song is composed in advance. They simply play, following their musical sensibilities wherever they may lead, and when the song is complete, they give it a name. This approach makes it possible to create an original composition around a suggestion from the audience, as we challenged them to do in our online bonus show, “The Wrap.” Enjoy!