Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Transverse.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.121.12
Region: Far East Asia.
Description: The ryūteki [in Japanese, Kanji 龍笛, literally “dragon flute”] is a Japanese transverse flute made of bamboo. It is used in gagaku, the Shinto classical music that is associated with Japan’s imperial court. The sound of the ryūteki is said to represent the dragons which ascend the skies between the heavenly lights [represented by the shō] and the people of the earth [represented by the hichiriki].
The ryūteki is one of the three flutes used in gagaku, in particular to play songs of Chinese style. Ryuteki is played solo at the beginning of Chuseigaku. The pitch is lower than that of the komabue and higher than that of the kagurabue.
Playing Techniques: Circular breathing is used when playing the ryuteki. This allows for the manipulation of grace notes and other features specific to gagaku.
Construction: The ryūteki is held horizontally, has seven finger holes, and has a length of 40 cm [1 ft 4 in] and an inner diameter of 1.3 cm [1⁄2 in]. Seven finger-holes are burnt into the wood.