Category Archives: Duct



A duct or fipple is a constricted bevel that is carved into the mouth piece, that is common to end blown flutes, such as the tin whistle, recorder,  Catalan flabiol etc. These instruments are known as fipple or duct flutes or tubular-ducted flutes and are indicated by the code 421.2 in the Hornbostel–Sachs classification.

How the fipple / duct works: In such a construction the top [or head] of the recorder. A musician blows into the top of the recorder where the mouth piece lays. The head or top of the mouth piece which the fipple or duct is attached too. During performance the stream of air is operated by the “labium lip” producing a Bernoulli effect or siphon.

The air flowing over the voicing mouth creates a flow-controlled valve. Interaction between the air reed and the air column in the body of the instrument excites standing waves in the air column, which determines the pitch of the sound. This oscillation results in the “whistle sound” in ducted flue instruments. See wind instrument and flue pipe.

A distinct tone colour is usually determined by the dimensions of the instrument and the voicing mouth. Further more, the tone of the instrument is then slightly modified by the player’s technique or embouchure. In instruments such as the recorder, the player can vary the pitch of the resulting musical note by opening or closing finger holes along the bore of the instrument, thus changing the effective length.

The wind way consists of the wind canal or flue, the upper portion of the voicing or mouth as carved into the head joint itself, and the ducted flue wind way, as carved onto the top surface of the fipple block. The space created between the ducted flue wind-way and the labium edge is referred to as the mouth or voicing.


Name: Kuisi.
Type: Aerophones > Flute > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12 
Country: Colombia & Panama.
Regions: Central & South America.

Description: A kuisi or kuizi is a duct flute that is made from a cactus stem, with a beeswax and charcoal powder mixture for the head [where the air stream is blown into]. The kuisi is played in both Colombia and neighbouring Panama. In the lower slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta; for example the Spanish speaking village of Atánquez. Similar flutes called carrizos, whose name originates from the name of the cane they are made from. The ensemble is thus named conjunto de carrizos.

The conjunto accompanies the dance chicote, a circle dance in which men and women alternate, placing their arms n each other’s shoulders. On the coastal plain, for example the town of San Jacinto, Bolivar. An ensemble known as the conjunto de gaitas commonly provides the music for the cambia, porro and other such genres as the vallenato. This ensemble consists of two duct flutes [ghaitas], a maraca and two hand-beaten drums of African descent.

Playing Techniques: Musicians often use wax to close the finger-holes and to alter the tone of the flute. By blocking one or the other tone hole on the kuisi sigi, and in the kuisi bunzi either the upper or lower finger-hole is covered. So that only the four finger-holes are used at any one time.

Varieties: There are male and female versions of the kuisi [or gaita in Spanish for pipe]. The female kuisi bunsi [also rendered kuisi abundjí in Spanish] is also commonly known as a gaita hembra in Spanish and has five holes; the male kuisi sigi [or kuisi azigí] is called a gaita macho in Spanish and has two holes.

Construction: Modern kuisi’s are between 70 cm and 80 cm in length, traditionally the measurement of the kuisi was defined by the arm of the maker. Kuisi’s built by the Kogi people are reported to be up to two feet or 60 cm in length. They are constructed from cane [carrizo] by the flautist him self.

The kuisi is always made by a male. The length being measured as three times the span between the extended thumb and little finger. Plus the span between the extended thumb and index finger. The finger holes are located with a distance between them. The finger holes are then located with a distance between them measured by the width of two fingers plus, half of the width of the thumb.

They are constructed from a cactus [Selenicereus grandifloras]  which is bored and whose thorns are cut. The centre is removed, first moistening and then boring with an iron stick. The cactus stem is thicker at one of its ends, this will go upside and coupled with the bee wax head which carries the feather mouth piece. Though the instrument is slightly conic on the outside, its perforation is cylindrical.

Citations: Bibliography: Joaquin Posada Gutierrez, Memorias Historico Politicas 1865 ; Bogota, Imprenta Nacional in 1929  ; Aquiles Escalante, El negro en Colombia, Monografias Sociológicas, no. 18 Bogota: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 1964, pp. 149] on the fusion of Indigenous, African and European instruments and music cultures ; Websites:


Name: Dentsivka.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.221.12
Country: Ukraine.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: The dentsivka [in Ukrainian: Денцівка] pronounced as “Denchivka”. It is thus classified as a duct flute. The dentsivka is often commonly called a sopilka, however, the dentsivka has a fipple, like the western European recorder. In recent times the use of chromatic ten-hole fingering was developed for the instrument. Where as in western Ukraine Some dentsivkas have only five tone holes.

The same chromatic approach is applied to other flutes found in Ukraine. The dentsivka is made in a number of sizes from piccolo tuned in F prima in C, alto in G, tenor in F to the bass in C. Concert versions of the prima are available, the best being sold in Ukrainian music stores under the name “mala fleita”.

Construction: Usually it is made from a tube of wood approximately 30 to 40 cm [12 to 16 in] length. Tone holes are cut or burnt into the tube and a fipple made at one end. If the fipple is in the top of the instrument on the same plane as the playing holes, instead of the underside, the instrument is a kosa dudka [in Ukrainian: Коса дудка], though they may fail to be distinguished.

The internal diameter is usually 12 to 14 mm [0.4 to 0.5 in] with the walls of the tube being 2 mm to 3 mm [0.08 in to 0.12 in] thick. In traditional instruments the tuning varied with the length of the tube, but was usually diatonic, with a range of two and a half octaves.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: dbpedia Densivka [article] ;


Name: Txistu.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Country: Leioa [Biscay], Spain.
Region: Western Europe & Iberian Peninsula.

Description: The txistu [Basque pronunciation in IPA: ˈtʃis̺tu] it is a duct flute that became a symbol for the Basque folk revival.

Etymology: The name may stem from the general Basque word ziztu “to whistle” with palatalization of the z [cf zalaparta > txalaparta]. This three-hole pipe can be played with one hand, leaving the other one free to play a percussion instrument.

History: Evidence of the txistu first mentioned as such goes back to 1864. Although it was used earlier it was not easy to establish when it first began. The txistu being the result of an evolution of the upright flutes widespread as early as the Late Middle Ages, when minstrels scattered all over the Iberian Peninsula brought in instruments that locals, noblemen first and common people later took on and developed.

At the beginning, txistu players [txistularis] were named in romance written records after the tabor [pipe and tabor were played together]: tamborer, tamborino, tambolín, tamborín, tamboril, músico tamboril, tamborilero, tamboriltero. However, when named after the flute, they are called in Spanish pífano, silbato, silbo, silbo vizcaíno or chilibistero.

The three-hole flute was played by people in much of Spain and Western Europe. Recordings of the Basque names came later; txilibitu, txirula, txirola, txürula, txulula, txilibitulari, txilibistari. Whilst some instrument fell into decay, from the Renaissance on the three-hole flute raised in its profile increasingly took on the length as we not it today [42 cm] in Basque Country.

In contrast, the [t]xirula, the version that prevailed on the eastern Basque Country Soule, Labourd and Navarre remained shorter in size. At that point, three-hole flutes were made of wood despite some instances of flutes made in bone.

The oldest txistu melodies were in Mixolydian mode in G. It is the same as the seventh mode in Gregorian chanting. More recently composed songs are still in G major, but in either natural or sharp F or, more rarely C. There are exceptions, however, in major F melodies with natural B.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: The Txistu and the Txistularis article in Spanish from Wayback Machine [site] ;

Pipe & Tabor

Name: Pipe & Tabor.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No: 421.221.12
Country: Spain, Many.
Region: Western Europe & European continent.

Description: The Pipe and tabor is a pair of instruments played by a single player, consisting of a three-hole pipe played with one hand, and a small drum played with the other. The tabor [drum] hangs on the performer’s left arm or around the neck, leaving the hands free to beat the drum with a stick in the right hand and play the pipe with thumb and first two fingers of the left hand.

History: Mersenne mentions a virtuoso, John Price, who could rise to the twenty-second on the galoubet. Praetorius mentions and illustrates three sizes of the Stamentienpfeiff, the treble [50.8 cm / 20 inches in length], the tenor [66.04 cm / 26 inches in length] and the bass [76.2 cm / 30 inches] the last being played by means of a crook about [58.42 cm / 23 inches in length].

A specimen of the bass in the museum of the Brussels Conservatory has middle C for its lowest note. Three-hole pipes made from bone and dating to the early Middle Ages have been found in England. There are images of medieval tabor players in buildings, for example York Minster, Lincoln and Gloucester cathedrals, and Tewkesbury Abbey.

Citations: Bibliography: William Shakespeare 1598 Much Ado About Nothing. p. Act II, Scene 3 ; Praetorius, Organographia, being the second volume of his Syntagma Musici, 1618, where a figure is given in Plate IX. See Breitkopf and Hartel’s reprint of Praetorius, also Galpin’s Old English Instruments of Music, 1910 ; An Address to a Society of Morris Dancers, Oxford, February 12, 1914 by Sir Francis Darwin [Son of Sir Charles Darwin] site by Chris Brady; Anthony C. Baines, Hélène La Rue Websites: Grove Music Online / Pipe & Tabor ;


Name: Zuffolo.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.221.12
Country: Italy.
Region: South Europe & Mediterranean.

Description: The zuffolo [also chiufolo, ciufolo] it is a fipple flute found in Italy. First described in the 14th century. The zuffolo has a range of over two octaves, from B3 to C6 [Marcuse 1975]. A larger instrument of the same name, with a lowest note of C5 appeared in the early 17th century [Fuller-Maitland, Baines, and Térey-Smith 2001].

Relatives: In Northern Europe there is a very similar instrument that is known by various names from the 14th to at least the 17th century. The earliest documented source is a 14th century Flemish manuscript copy of De Planctu Naturae by Alain De Lille. This manuscript documents 11 types of instruments two duct flutes. One of these is a single handed flute with three front finger-holes and one thumb-hole.

It is labeled, together with another instrument, with the generic Latin term “fistuli” and with the Middle Dutch word “floyt” [Lasocki 2011, 18–19]. In the early 16th century, a woodcut showing this same type of instrument is identified as “Russpfeiff” [from MHGer Rusch, “rush”] in Virdung [1511]. This name is spelled “Rüspfeiff” in Agricola [1529, fol. 5r], where the same instrument is also referred to as a “klein Flötlein mit 4 löchern” small little flute with four holes [Marcuse 1975b; Wasielewski 1878, 83].

At the beginning of the next century, Michael Praetorius depicted this instrument once again in the supplement [Theatrum Instrumentorum] to the second volume of his Syntagma Musicum, where he uses the expressions “gar kleine Plockflötlein” describing a very small little recorder, “garklein Flötlein” very small little flute, and “klein Flötlein” small little flute.

He gives the size of this instrument as about three or four Brunswick inches, its range as nearly two octaves, and its playing technique as involving “unten zum Ausgang darneben mit eim Finger regiret werden” regulated by means of a finger under the outlet.

The lowest open tone is shown in the woodcut as C6, but Praetorius does not say how much lower the instrument can be made to speak by using the finger to shade the bell opening [Praetorius 1619, 34, supplement Plate IX].

Construction: The zuffolo has a rear thumb-hole, two front finger-holes, and a conical bore. It is approximately 8 cm in length.

Citations: Bibliography: Marcuse 1975, Fuller-Maitland, Baines, and Térey-Smith, 2001 ; Agricola, Martin. 1529 Musica instrumẽtalis deudsch ynn welcher begriffen ist / wie man nach dem gesange auff mancherley Pfeifen lernen sol / Auch wie auff die Orgel / Harffen / Lauten / Geigen / vnd allerley Instrument vnd Seytenspiel/ nach der rechtgegründten Tabelthur sey abzusetzen ; Wittemberg: Georg Rhaw “ciufolo”. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers ; George Grove, “Picco”, A Dictionary of Music and Musicians [A.D. 1450–1880], by Eminent Writers, English and Foreign, vol. 2, edited by George Grove, D. C. L., 340–43. London: Macmillan and Co.: 750 ; Lasocki, David. 2001. “Flautino [I]”. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers ;


Name: Dudka.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.221.12
Country: Byelorussia, Russia & Ukraine.
Region: East Europe.

Description: The dudka is a duct flute that is played in Byelorussia, Russia and Ukraine. Belorussian regional names include pasvistsyol, svistsyol [in Byelorussian; свистсиол] , svishchik [in Byelorussian; свисхцхик], svistok [in Byelorussian: свисток], sipovka [in Byelorussian: сиповка] and sapyolka [in Byelorussian: сапиолка] .

Etymology: The name dudka has the same root as dut [‘blow’] and dukh [‘air’]. These names reflect regional tone and register characteristics: in central Belarus the sound is high, clear, sonorous, and somewhat chilly, while in the south it is muted and murky, enriched by noisy overtones.

Construction: The names of the dudka’s parts imply anthropomorphism: the tube is called a body, the plug is a heart or navel, the beak is a nose, etc. Dudkas differ in size ranging from 1.5 cm to 45 cm in length, rarely up to 80 cm in length. Their number of finger-holes, none or four to eight although most commonly six or seven. The range of the dudka may include from one to nine notes, and finally the tuning.

Citations: Bibliography: Inna D. Nazina and Ihor Macijewski ; Websites: Grove Music Online / Dudka article / ;


Name: Nabat.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Country: Indonesia.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: An end-blown duct flute of the Jah Hut people of Pahang in Peninsular Malaysia. It is a type of suling. The melodies played on this flute constitute a specific repertory of tunes connected to Jah Hut stories.

Construction: The bamboo tube is about 28 cm in length and has seven equidistant finger-holes and a thumbhole.  The blowing end is partially plugged with a piece of wood leaving a duct 2 cm wide.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Patricia Matusky Nabat Article / Grove Dictionary Online ;


Name: Baluat.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.221.12
Country: Northern Sumatra, Indonesia.
Region: South-East Asia.

Description: The baluat is a narrow end-blown duct flute found in slightly varied types in northern Sumatra, Indonesia. The instrument is used most notably by the Karo Mandailing and Toba Batak peoples of the province of North Sumatra, but also by the Gayo and Alas peoples of Aceh.

Varieties: Two types of baulat are distinguished in the Karo area: the baluat pingko-pingko and the baluat gendek. The relatively soft-toned baluat pingko-pingko is made from a bamboo tube usually 30 cm to 50 cm in length and 1 cm to 2 cm wide at the top. The louder baluat gendek is about 24 cm in length and 2 cm wide. Both types narrow towards the bottom and have six small finger-holes about 2 cm apart, sometimes with the third and sixth holes larger than the others.

Construction: A bamboo or wooden block inserted into the top forms a small duct. The duct directs the breath onto the sharp fipple or V-shaped edge opening cut just below the block. The lower end of the flute is usually cut at a node, which serves to strengthen the instrument. A small hole is made in the node.

Citations: Bibliography: Margaret J. Kartomi, revised by Gini Gorlinski ; Websites: Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online / Baluat ;


Name: Sopilka.
Type: Aerophones > Duct > Flutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Country: Ukraine.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: Sopilka [in Ukrainian: Cопiлка, pronounced “so-pil-ka”] is a name applied to a variety of woodwind instruments of the flute family used by Ukrainian folk instrumentalists. Having six to ten finger holes. The term is also used to describe a related set of folk instruments similar to a recorder in sound and construction.

Sopilkas are used by a variety of Ukrainian folkloric ensembles recreating the traditional music of the various sub-ethnicities in western Ukraine, most notably that of the Hutsuls of the Carpathian Mountains. Often employing several sopilkas in concert, a skilled performer can mimic a variety of sounds found in nature, including bird-calls and insects.

Citations: Bibliography: Дверій, Р. Школа гри – на хроматичний сопілці /, 2008 Part 1-72 pages, part 2 – 68 pages, part 3 – 64 pages [in English: Door, R. School game – on a chromatic flute] ; in Ukrainian: Гуменюк А. – Українські народні музичні інструменти, In English: Gumenyuk A. – Ukrainian folk musical instruments ; Київ: Наукова думка, 1967 ; Mizynec, V. Ukrainian Folk Instruments – Melbourne: Bayda books, 1984 ; Cherkasky, L. – Українські народні музичні інструменти // Техніка, Київ, Україна, 2003 – 262 pages. ISBN 966-575-111-5 ;