chinese wind instruments

Dizi, Xiao, Bawu, Hulusi - gourd-flute

chinese wind instruments

The chinese travers flute Dizi, the notch flute Xiao, punch-tongue instruments like Bawu or the gourd flute Hulusi - they all have their own sound

  • travers flute Dizi
  • notch flute Xiao
  • punch-tongue Instrument Bawu
  • Bordun- or gourd flute Hulusi

China has a very old musical culture. Accordingly, some traditional musical instruments developed in Chinese music that are still being built and played today.

With wind instruments in particular, you can discover some unusual timbres and types of toner that are not known in this country.

While the Xiao as a notch flute is still quite traditional, the Chinese transverse flute Dizi already has a special sound effect through a vibrating membrane.

Wind instruments with a metal tongue like the Bawu or the Hulusi are very unusual. The tongues are similar to the tongues of a harmonica and are set in a pipe with finger holes on top. Breathing sets the tongue in vibration and humming tones with a very unique timbre are created. The Bawu is built as a single chanter. The Hulusi uses 3 pipes in a pumpkin, which is why it is often called a pumpkin flute. All three pipes can be made to sound at the same time via the mouthpiece on the punch-tongue. The middle pipe is the melody pipe, the two on the sides produce continuous tones as a drone. So the sound is a bit like a bagpipe.

Even if these instrumentsChina has a very old musical culture. Accordingly, some traditional musical instruments developed in Chinese music that are still being built and played today. play a normal scale, the key designation takes some getting used to. Although the fundamental note of the scale is the lowest note of the instrument and usually indicates the tuning in our country, the Chinese designate the key after the third hole, i.e. after the tone that sounds when three holes are open. That is, a flute that is called Chinese G plays the D major toneliter. This always needs a bit of rethinking, especially with the Hulusi, where you have to adjust to the corresponding on-board moods.

Dizi - chinese travers flute

The Dizi is a traditional chinese traverse flute with special sound-effect by rice-paper

Dizi is a traditional chinese travers flute.
This flute has a special: between the mouth hoe and the finger holes is a hole, which is closed with a ricepaper.
This paper starts to vibrate while playing and chages the sound to a vibrating timbre.
The fingering is like typical six-hole flutes, playable about two octaves.
We offer this flute in two qualities and differents tonalities.

In china the declaration of tonality is different to europe. They don't sign the deepest note, but the note at the third hole from the bottom. That means a flute in chinese F is C-major (deepest note C).

This Dizi are a good quality made from bitter bamboo, red string winding, departable in two parts, with luck-knot and bag



a long noch flute

The Japanese shakuhachi is best known as a notch flute from Asia.

This Chinese variant is built more slender and has a narrow notch like the South American Quena flute. This narrow notch is a little easier to blow than the wide edge of the Shakuhachi.

The flute has 5 finger holes and one thumb hole. You can play about 2 octaves with it, the fingering is very similar to the 6-hole flute, the thumb hole is the 6th hole. Since the holes are very far apart, the fingers are set a little differently than you are used to with the smaller 6-hole flutes.

Fingering chart for the Xiao

The flute is made of bamboo, the surface is darkly colored and the head is decorated with a dragon motif. A traditional Chinese lucky knot can be attached to the foot.

Xiao melody

Xiao scale


Bawu is a traditional chinese wind-instrument. The special sound comes from a metal tongue.

The Bawu is a traditional chinese wind-instrument

This instrument is mad efrom bamboo, the sound comes from a metal tongue. This metal tongue is like the mtongues of a mouthharp. The sound is soft humming. The notes and melodies are played by six finger holes.

To play the Bawu you keep it like a travers flute. Simple you just blow through the metal tongue. The oral cavity should be like a air-chamber, and blow even and medium strong. The technic is similar to the Hulusi . So what at the Hulusi is the gourd, here it is your mouth.

At chinese wind-instruments the tonality is signed at the third hole. That means a flute in chinese F has the deepest note C, so it plays in C-major.

We offer the Bawu in two tonalities:

  • chinese G (sol), deepest note D (d-major/e-minor)
  • chinese F(fa), deepest note C (c-major/d-minor)

The Bawu has two parts and the head is designed with chinese poems.

To the Bawu belongs a chinese luck-knot and a hardcase.

Fingering charts:


Hulusi - chinese gourd flute

The Hulusi is a traditional chinese wind-instrument. On the top is a gourd for the mouthpiece, inside are three pipes, one for melody, two for bordun.

The Hu-Lu-Si is not a double reed instrument but produces the sound with simple reeds from metal.
A gourd is used for the mouthpiece to blow three pipes together. One pipe has fingering holes for playing melodies, the other two on the sides playing as a bordun.

So the sound remember to a bagpipe.
Although the metal tongues make a soft vibrating sound, similar like a mouth-organ.

Simple Hulusi have often only one bordun, and the third pipe is just a fake. This Hulusi, we offer, has two bordun. They are tuned in quint.

To play the Hulusi is easy, you don't need a special technic, you just blow in. You can open or close the bordun, but how much borduns are open it need more air to play..Chinese wind-instruments are signed for the tonalitiy at the third hole. This means an instrument chinese F, sounds in C, the deepest note of the melodypipe is C. The large bordun than is tuned in D, like the second note of the melody-pipe. The small bordun than sounds in A, a quint higher than D. You can play a none at the melodypipe ( deep C to high D).

The Hulusi is availabel in differnt tunes and qualities:

high sound:

  • chinese D - deepest note F, bordun E and B

deep sound:

  • chinese G - deepest note D, bordun E and B
  • chinese F - deepest note C, bordun D and A

Every Hulusi has a luck-knot and a hardcase.

Fingering charts:

Hulusi high tonality scale

Hulusi with deep bordun

Hulusi with 2 bordun

Hulusi deep tonality

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A children harp.
A simple plucked instrument, played like a zither on a table.
It has 5 written melodies, which are put under the strings.
The simple notation is easy to learn, even will play soon the melodies..
It has 2 Octaves from G to G.

inclusive a tuning key

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The Hapi slim is very popular in the tuning A minor. In this key it has a very balanced sound. Also, the key of A minor fits well with medieval and traditional music.

A little lower is the tuning in F major. The major pentatonic seems a bit more cheerful than the melancholic minor pentatonic.

A minor A - C - D - E - G - A - C - D

F major F - G - A - C - D - F - G - A

Each hapi comes with two mallets and a bag

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