Name: Hulusi.
Type: Free-Reed > Aerophone.
Region: China > Far East Asia.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 412.3.
Dimensions: Length cm.
Acquisition Date:
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine Reusch (Trip to China).

The hulusi (traditional: 葫蘆絲; simplified: 葫芦丝; pinyin: húlúsī) is a free-reed aerophone that is played among the Dai and Yi minorities in the Yunnan province in China. The Dai people have their own name for the hulusi they call it "pi lamtao" as written in Mandarin [筚朗叨] or bilingdao. It is also played in the Shan State, Myanmar. In the Dai culture men would play the hulusi to express love and courtship songs towards a particular woman. Other minorities play the hulusi during breaks from work in the rice fields. The hulusi is appreciated for its haunting timbre and warm tone. Due to the soft tone of the hulusi it is rarely used in ensembles.

Developments: In 1958 a hulusi having a range of fourteen notes was invented. A version of the hulusi having only two pipes tuned a fourth apart was developed during the 1970's. Single pipe hulusi do exist however they are quite rare. Most hulusi are made with two or three pipes. Often the drone pipes are stopped with pieces of wax or cloth to alter their pitch. Some more sophisticated hulusi even have a slide-whistle like mechanism that can tune the hulusi to a desired pitch. Alto, tenor and bass versions of the hulusi are now available.

Construction: Hulusi are constructed from three tubes of bamboo that are inserted into the gourd with a plastic piece to secure the tubes together. A lathed piece of wood drilled with a hole for the mouth piece. Two thin reeds are cut from brass. The artwork on my hulusi is quite ornate features a dragon, the instrument is lacquered and painted over. The colours are black, gold, red and white. The main fingering pipe is placed in the centre of the gourd and the two drone tubes are placed in parallel on each side. Currently the hulusi are usually tuned in a c-major pentatonic scale. The case for the hulusi is constructed from wood, leatherette, brass cabinet hinges and aluminum hasps that keep the case closed during transport.

Citations: Bibliography, New Grove Dictionary of Music by Stanley Sadie > web sites; Randy Raine Reusch @