In this study I investigate the recent transformation of the Chinese pipa solo tradition, particularly since 1949, as it moved from the folk tradition to the conservatory. After introducing the instrument and reviewing its history including the ways it has been structurally and technologically modified over time, I trace specific pipa developments through the biography and work of nine outstanding pipa musicians: Liu Tianhua, Lin Shicheng, Liu Dehai and Zhang Qiang (Chapter 3); Shi Juan and Zhao Cong (Chapter 4); Gao Hong and Yang Jing (Chapter 5) and Wu Man (Chapter 6). Additionally, I examine the iconic repertoire item “Ambush on Ten Sides” (“Shimian maifu”, 十面埋伏) in terms of canonisation and standardisation processes, the ways it functions as a sign vehicle on behalf of Chinese culture and music locally and globally, and the musical creativity it has inspired. Throughout Chapters 4–6 in particular I examine the changes that have taken place in pipa transmission and repertoire expansion in relation to Chinese music’s modernisation, the post-1979 Chinese diaspora, and discourses of globalisation and the “Chinese self”. Overall, four key domains of transformation are addressed in the study: pipa teaching methods; the pipa canon; pipa performance techniques and conventions; and the cultural status of the instrument. As a result of the concerted efforts of these nine pipa experts (among many others), the pipa is now more widely known than at any previous point in history and has found its way into an unprecedented range of musical contexts locally, regionally and worldwide. The thesis is informed by my experience as a China conservatory-trained, Sydney based pipa professional. In it I interweave data gathered from ethnographic interviews with the pipa experts featured in the study, which I conducted face-to-face and online, with discographical and musicological analysis of performances and recordings.