Category Archives: Gourds

Gourds

Keluri

Name: Keluri.
Type: Aerophones > Free > Reeds > Gourds.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 412.132
Country: Borneo, Malaysia.
Region: South East Asia.
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch @ asza.com.

Description: The keluri or keledi, and the enkulurai are extremely rare bamboo free-reed mouth organs found in North Western, Borneo. These instruments bare a remarkable resemblance to the hulusheng, but they contain 6 pipes instead of five.

The pipes do not pierce the bottom of the gourd. The keluri or keledi is played by the Orang Ulu or ‘upriver people’ of the interior of Borneo, and the enkulurai is played by the Iban people who live in the lowlands close to the coast.

Usage: Traditionally keluri were played for ‘long dances’ that were associated with the rituals around headhunting, but with the disappearance of headhunting in the region. These instruments are now seldom played or made. There are still a few elder players able to perform, but their music will likely disappear within a decade.

Construction: Both these instruments are made with a made a gourd wind chamber from which extend six bamboo pipes containing a bamboo or occasionally metal free-reed. The only difference in the construction is that the longest pipe on the Iban instruments is twice the length of the Orang Ulu keluri. Some Iban instruments reach over 6 feet or 1.8 metre in length, while the average instrument is only two feet in length.

Citations: Discography: Websites: Randy Raine-Reusch @ asza.com [keluri article] ;

Naw

Name: Naw.
Type: Aerophones > Free > Reeds > Gourds.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 412.132
Country: Yunnan China & Golden Triangle area, Thailand.
Region: South East Asia.
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch @ asza.com.

Description: The naw is a free reed aerophone found in Southern China and the mountainous Golden Triangle area. The naw or hulusheng [which literally means gourd sheng] is perhaps the one of the oldest members of the sheng family. The naw is played by a number of the “Hill tribes” or minority peoples of the region, including the Yi, Lahu and Lisu peoples.

Types: There are two types of hulusheng found in the region: the raft type where the pipes are arranged in two rows, like the Vietnamese mbuat, and the bundle type where the pipes are arranged in a circle like the naw.

Playing Techniques: The naw has five pipes grouped in a circular cluster, whose open ends appear flush with the bottom of the gourd wind chamber. This allows the musician to “bend” the notes by slowly covering the ends of the pipes with the right thumb while playing.

The technique for this instrument is difficult, and the resulting music is very lively and quite loud, in spite of the bamboo reeds. Traditionally this instrument also played a coded language, which was used for unmarried people to converse with.

Citations: Websites: Randy Raine-Reusch @ asza.com [naw article] ;

Sheng

Name: Sheng.
Type: Aerophones > Free > Reeds > Gourds.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 412.132
Bayin: 匏 Gourd.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Descriptions: It is one of the oldest Chinese instruments, with images depicting its kind dating back to 1100 BCE. And there are actual instruments from the Han era that have been preserved today. Traditionally, the sheng has been used as an accompaniment instrument for solo suona or dizi performances. It is one of the main instruments in kunqu and some other forms of Chinese opera.

Traditional small ensembles also make use of the sheng, such as the wind and percussion ensembles in northern China. In the modern large Chinese orchestra, it is used for both melody and accompaniment. The sheng is now mainly identified with the Han culture [presently the dominant culture] of China, but can be found in a number of similar forms within some of China’s minority cultures.

Origins: Its age is unknown, but it can be seen in pictographs dating from 1200 BC with a gourd wind chamber, and looks very similar to the current southern Chinese and northern Thai naw. The sheng was traditionally used in court music, and there are many depictions of the ancient sheng, known then as yu, on the wall paintings of the Dunghuang caves from the 7th and 8th Centuries.

It was during this period that the sheng traveled to many of the courts of Asia and according to some references, possibly even Persia in the 10th century. It is documented that it didn’t reach Europe until 1777 with Pere Amiot and its influence was so strong that it resulted in the invention of the reed organ, concertina, harmonica and accordion.

Development: Development took hold during the early 20th century onwards for improving the design of sheng. That enhanced its sound and volume as well as increasing its range. Early changes were made by Zheng Jinwen [鄭覲文, 1872–1935] who increased the number of pipes to 32, expanding its range and allowing it to play harmony and chords.

The air chamber and size of the pipes were also enlarged, changing the tone colour of the instrument. Later various changes were also introduced by players such as Weng Zhenfa [翁鎮發] and particularly Hu Tianquan [胡天泉], with different variants of the instrument produced.

Citations: Bibliography: Alan R. Thrasher ; Websites: Sheng / Grove Music Online ;

Hulusi

Name: Hulusi.
Type: Aerophones > Free > Reeds > Gourds.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 412.132
Bayin: 匏 Gourd.
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch, China.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The hulusi [in traditional: 葫蘆絲; simplified: 葫芦丝; pinyin: húlúsī]. This instrument is also known as cucurbit, 筚 叨 叨, “筚” is the Han Chinese name applied to this instrument. “朗” and “叨”.

Etymology: The instrument’s Han Chinese “hulusi” name comes from the words hulu, meaning “gourd” and si, meaning “silk” referring to the instrument’s smooth tone. The same name of this musical instrument in Thai language is ปี่น้ําเต้า and “勒勒” in Weng Achang language.

The instrument is called pi lamtao in the Dai [Tai Nuea] language; Pi namtao in Lue language; in the Khun language Sipsong Panna; Kengtung in the Yuan, Lao language and Thai language language in [Northern Thailand]. in the Bai language “Hong Liao” is a common slang name for this musical instrument. Hong Lao also means gourd.

Development: Single pipe hulusi are rare, with two or three pipe instruments being the most common. One pipe is a melody pipe with seven holes, including the thumbhole, and the other pipes are drone pipes, which are sometimes stopped with bits of wax or cloth.

In 1958, a fourteen-note version was invented, and in the 1970’s a version with two melody pipes, tuned a fourth apart, was invented. The instrument on the left has two drones while the instrument on the right only has one. Advanced configurations have keyed finger holes similar to a clarinet or oboe, which can greatly extend the range of the hulusi to several octaves.

Construction: The hulusi is assembled from a gourd, plastic fitting to hold the three bamboo pipes in place. And an adjustable clamp with a screw to keep the three tubes held in place. The centre drone is considered the main playing pipe. It is where the finger-holes are drilled in. The other two pipes function as drones.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Randy Raine-Reusch @ asza.com [Hulusi article] ;

Sho

Name: Sho.
Type: Aerophones > Free > Reeds > Gourds.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 412.132
Country: Japan.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The shō [in Japanese, Kanji 笙 shō] is a Japanese free reed musical instrument that was introduced from China during the Nara period [AD 710 to 794]. It is descended from the Chinese sheng, although the shō tends to be smaller in size.

It consists of 17 slender bamboo pipes, each of which is fitted in its base with a metal free reed. Two of the pipes are silent, although research suggests that they were used in some music during the Heian period.

The shō is one of the three primary woodwind instruments used in gagaku, Japan’s imperial court music. Its traditional playing technique in gagaku involves the use of tone clusters called aitake [合竹], which move gradually from one to the other, providing accompaniment to the melody. A larger size of shō, called u [derived from the Chinese yu], is little used, although some performers, such as Hiromi Yoshida, began to revive it in the late 20th century.

The instrument’s sound is said to imitate the call of a phoenix, and it is for this reason that the two silent pipes of the shō are kept—as an aesthetic element, making two symmetrical “wings”. Like the Chinese sheng, the pipes are tuned carefully with a drop of bees wax.

As moisture collected in the shō’s pipes prevents it from sounding, performers can be seen warming the instrument over a small charcoal brazier when they are not playing. The instrument produces sound when the player’s breath is inhaled or exhaled, allowing long periods of uninterrupted play.

Citations: Bibliography: S. Kshibe and L. Traynor: ‘On the Four Unknown Pipes of Sho’, Toyo gakuho xxx, 1952 ; Sho and the Gagaku ; W. P. Malm, Japanese Music and Musical Instruments – Rutland, Vermont, 1959 ; [court orchestra music] Music of a Thousand Autumns; By Robert Garfias ; Websites: Randy Raine-Reusch @ asza.com [sho article] ;

Lusheng

Name: Lusheng.
Type: Aerophones > Free > Reeds > Gourds.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 412.132
Bayin: 竹 bamboo.
Country: Yunnan, China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The lusheng is a free-reed mouth organ played by Dong, Hmong and other related minority peoples of Yunnan, China. The Chinese lusheng is a version of the Lao gaeng differing in size and construction materials.

Traditional lusheng had six bamboo pipes that were set into a bamboo or wooden wind chamber. Their size ranged from 1/3 of a metre, approx. 1 foot to 3 to 4 metres, 3 to 4 yards.

Often they were played in ensembles of unison instruments, or of varying sizes and pitches, at festivals and village celebrations. Recent innovations to the lusheng have been in response to Chinese government ideologies, resulting in more pipes in order to play more complex music, and a set pitch to play with other instruments.

As a result there are now professional lusheng players performing orchestral repertoires that bear no resemblance to the traditional village music.

Citations: Bibliography: Discography: Websites: Randy Raine-Reusch @ [keluri article] asza.com ;

Mbuat

Name: Mbuat.
Type: Aerophones > Free > Reeds > Gourds.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 412.132
Country: Vietnam.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The mbuat is a free-reed mouth organ of the Mnong People of Vietnam. Played as a solo instrument or in small ensembles, it was commonly used for expressing courtship between a man and woman.

The mbuat is very similar in form to ancient Chinese free reed mouth organs. The early Chinese instruments show gourds having six or seven holes for pipes arranged in two parallel rows exactly the same as the mbuat.

Construction: Other instruments of a similar construction found in the region include the kupuot of the Raglai people of Vietnam, and the plung of the Murung people of Bangladesh. It is interesting to note that the plung is often played in large ensembles of instruments of varying sizes and the sound is surprisingly similar to the lusheng ensembles of southern China.

Citations: Websites: Randy Raine-Reusch [mbuat article] @ asza.com ;