Two thousand years ago, the lute was imported to China via overland trade routes from Central Asia and was adopted quickly in many of the regions. Ancient court documents describe how generations of talented musicians developed its music. John E. Myers translates one of these documents to introduce to readers of the English language the traditional music and artistic philosophy of the Chinese lute or pipa. He combines language and musical skills with an aesthetic sensibility in sharing what he calls "this world of expressive beauty". The document he translates is the Hua Collection of 1819, the first mass-produced edition of solo music for the pipa. It helped to establish in China the legitimacy of solo performance and self-cultivation on instruments other than the venerable qin zither. Rich in aesthetic allusions and musical notation, the collection is a valuable study source and serves as a window into the possible relationships between aesthetic categories and compositional structure.Structural analysis, based on both comparative transcription and the search for generative features, reveals the basis for organization of the repertoire and the close relationship of this genre to various instrumental ensemble genres of southern China. Myers also examines the use of asymmetric phrase rhythms as a means of musical development and as a smooth continuum among various levels of musical structure. In the closing chapters, he explores the possible cosmological and psychological significance of traditional pipa music as found, for example, in the expression of the dialectics of "wen" and "wu" (refinement versus violence), a musical performance aesthetic derived from Daosim, and in other such imagery. "The Way of the Pipa" represents an important step in Chinese music research in both the West and in China. It should appeal to specialists in Chinese music and East-Asian studies, and generalists in cross-cultural aesthetics and ethnomusicology. The discussion relating to Daoism may attract readers interested in the martial arts.