Tag Archives: Aerophones



Name: Xun.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Vessel.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.221.42
Bayin: 土 Clay.
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch @ China.

Description: The Xun [simplified Chinese: 埙; traditional Chinese: 塤; pinyin: xūn; Cantonese= hyun1] is a vessel flute of the Han Chinese, the main ethnic group of China. It is one of the oldest instruments of china having approximately 7000 years of history.

Most xun are usually egg shaped, with a flattened bottom. In the bayin classification system this instrument would be classified as a clay 土 as the bayin [eightfold system] classifies the instruments based on the materials the musical instruments are made of.

Construction: The xun is an egg-shaped aerophone, containing at least three finger holes in front and two thumb holes in back often a total of five or seven finger holes. It has a blowing hole on top and can have up to ten smaller finger holes, one for each finger. Although similar to an ocarina there is a clear fundamental difference. The xun lacks a fipple mouthpiece, unlike other Chinese flute-like instruments such as the Wudu and Taodi. The xun can come in a variety of sizes.

Citations: Bibliography: Jin, Jie 2011 – Chinese Music. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521186919 ; Thrasher, Alan 2000 – Chinese Musical Instruments. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. p. 16. ISBN 0-19-590777-9 ; Websites: Randy Raine-Reusch @ [Xun Article] asza.com ;

Vessel Flutes

Vessel Flutes, in the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system vessel flutes are those whose body behaves as a Helmholtz resonator. Such a body on these instruments are vessel shaped in the following designs, egg shaped as in the Chinese Xun, cone shaped as in the Ocarina.

Types of vessel flutes: These flutes have a fipple to direct the air at an edge. This side of the vessel flute sub-category includes the Gemshorn, Pifana, Ocarina, Molinukai, Tonnette and Niwawu.

Behaviour of vessel flutes: When a vessel flute is played; the air in the body of a vessel flute resonates as one. With the air moving alternately in and out of the vessel and pressure inside the vessel increasing and decreasing.

Blowing across the opening of empty bottle produces a basic edge-blown vessel flute. Multi-note vessel flutes include the ocarina.


Name: Wot.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Panflutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Country: Thailand.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The Wot [RTGS: wot, pronounced as wòːt, also written as Vot] is a circular panpipe used in the traditional music of Laos and the Isan region of northeastern Thailand. It is often a major component in Pong-Lang ensembles.

The wot, a small compact inexpensive and beautifully shaped musical instrument, became one of the musical instruments in Thailand a few decades ago, according to Songsak Pratumsin [Lecturer, College of Dramatic Arts] who invented in 1968.

This wot is used during the harvest season when the farmers have a popular activity called “Wot Throwing Competition”. The one who throws the wot farthest is the winner. The Tail Wot makes two types of noise which are bass and treble, but does not sort into notes nor adjusts the tone playing music. Thus, it is not considered to be a musical instrument.

Varieties: The Tail Swing Wot – The former wot is a device for recreation which is typically not considered to be a professional musical instrument because it functions more as a toy. In the past, this type of wot includes the core, which is made of bamboo stalk that has grown in a proper time.

2. Circular Wot [general] This wot was improved by Songsak Pratumsin by using the main features of the Tail Wot. It produces only five notes, according to the characteristics of the folk pattern.

3. Panel Wot

4. Tail Wot used to play for fun and joyful rhythm and easy to play.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:


Name: Kuvytsi.
Type: Aerophones > FLutes > Panflutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.112.11
Country: Ukraine.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: The kuvytsi [in Ukrainian: Кувиці, in Russian: Кугиклы, Кувиклы] are the Ukrainian and Russian variant of pan pipes. Pan pipes have been found in archeological excavations in Ukraine that date back some 5,000 years. The instrument consists of several pipes each of which, when blown endwise, produces one sound.

Various versions of the kuvytsi exist in Ukraine, such as the one-sided kuvytsi, which consist of a system of pipes from great to small in one lode or two-sided kuvytsi, which have their greatest pipe in the center. These instruments were used by ensembles in Chernihiv Province and also widely in Western Ukraine.

These instruments allow chromatic notes to be readily obtained, a semitone lower than the primary sound of the pipe.  This is done by bending the angle of the pipes with relation to the player’s lips. The air stream is thus broken on the far end of the pipe, rather than the end closest the lips.

Citations: Bibliography: [in Ukrainian] Гуменюк, А. Українські народні музичні інструменти, Київ: Наукова думка, 1967 – Мізинець, В. Українські народні інструменти, книги Мельбурна – Байда, 1984; Черкаський, Л., Українські народні музичні інструменти Техніка, Київ, Україна, 2003 262 с. ISBN 966-575-111-5 Kugikly – стаття з Великої Російської Енциклопедії; [in English] Gumenyuk, A. Ukrainian folk musical instruments, Kyiv: Naukova dumka, 1967 – Miinits, V. Ukrainian folk instruments, Melbourne books – Baid, 1984; Cherkassky, L., Ukrainian folk musical instruments Technique, Kyiv, Ukraine, 2003 262 p. ISBN 966-575-111-5 Kugikly – article from the Great Russian Encyclopedia ;


Name: Rondador.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Panflutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.112.11
Country: Ecuador.
Region: South America.

Description: The rondador is a set of panpipes whose tubes are arranged in a manner that allows for the playing of chords up to at least two to three notes in a single breath depending on the diameter of tube.

The rondador consists of cane tubes arranged in parallel side by side allowing chords to be played. The rondador is played by blowing across the top of the instrument. The Rondador is considered a national instrument of Ecuador.

Citations: Bibliography: Bishop, Douglas. “A Worldwide History of the Panflute”. Retrieved December 26, 2007 ; This family of pan flutes has many representatives: antara [Quechua] or siku [Aymara], chuli, sanka, malta [the most common variety of siku], toyo [bass siku] and rondador [Ecuador’s national instrument, a chorded pan flute]. Sergeant, Winthrop April 1934 “Types of Quechua Melody” ;


The ‘Pan Flute’ [also known as panpipes or syrinx] is a musical instruments based on the principle of the closed tube, consisting of multiple pipes of gradually increasing length and occasionally girth. Multiple varieties of pan flutes have been popular as folk instruments. The pipes are typically made from bamboo, giant cane, or local reeds. Other materials include wood, plastic, metal and ivory.

Etymology: In Greek mythology, Syrinx [Σύριγξ] was a forest Nymph. In her attempt to escape the affection of god Pan, who was a creature composed of being half man and half goat. The the calamos [cane-reed] was gathered by Pan and transformed into a panflute. Pan cut several reeds, placed them in parallel one next to the other, and bound them together to make a melodic musical instrument.

The Ancient Greeks called this instrument Syrinx, in honour of the Muse and Pandean or Pan-pipes and Pan-flute, after Pan. The Syrinx, a predominantly pastoral instrument for the Greeks, was adopted by the Etruscans who played it at their festivals and banquets; the Etruscans called it fistula. The Romans adopted the Syrinx from the Greeks and the Etruscans, and they too played it at their banquets, festivals, as well as in religious and funeral processions.


Name: Veenu.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Transverse.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.121.12
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The veenu [in Sanskrit: वेणु; veṇu] in the Dravidian languages this flute is known by many names including [in Tamil புல்லாங்குழல் ; pullankuzhal], [in Malayalam: പുല്ലാങ്കുഴല് ; pullāṅkuḻal], [in Kannada: ಕೊಳಲು ; Kolalu], [in Telugu: పిల్లన గ్రోవి pillana grōvi or వేణువు Vēṇuvu].

The veenu is one of the ancient transverse flutes of Indian classical music. It is an aerophone typically made from bamboo, that is a side blown wind instrument. It continues to be in use in the South Indian Carnatic music tradition.

History: The venu is discussed as an important musical instrument in the Natya Shastra, the classic Hindu text on music and performance arts. The ancient Sanskrit texts of India describe other side blown flutes such as the murali and vamsika, but sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. The venu is mentioned in the iconography of Hindu god Krishna.

Playing Techniques: Circular breathing is used when playing the venu as with numerous other Indian flute or single reed instruments.

Citations: Bibliography: Lochtefeld 2002, p. 747 ; Bruno Nettl; Thomas Turino; Isabel Wong; et al. 2015. Excursions in World Music. Taylor & Francis. p. 691. ISBN 978-1-317-35029-3. Dalal 2014, p. 163. Rowell 2015, pp. 99–103. The Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu of Rūpa Gosvāmin; Motilal Banarsidass. 2003. p. 217. ISBN 978-81-208-1861-3. Tarla Mehta 1995. Sanskrit Play Production in Ancient India. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 149–150. ISBN 978-81-208-1057-0.

Beck, Guy 1993. Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-87249-855-6. Caudhurī, Vimalakānta Rôya 2000. The Dictionary of Hindustani Classical Music. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1708-1. Dalal, Roshen 2014. Northern Indian Music, Volume 1. Theory & technique; Volume 2. The main rāgǎs. London: C. Johnson. OCLC 851080. Gautam, M.R. 1993 – Evolution of Raga and Tala in Indian Music. Munshiram Manoharlal. ISBN 81-215-0442-2. Kaufmann, Walter 1968. The Ragas of North India. Oxford & Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34780-0. OCLC 11369. Lochtefeld, James G. 2002. ISBN 978-0-8239-2287-1. Martinez, José Luiz 2001. Semiosis in Hindustani Music. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1801-9. Nettl, Bruno; Ruth M. Stone; James Porter; Timothy Rice 1998, The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: South Asia : the Indian subcontinent, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-8240-4946-1 Randel, Rowell, Lewis 2015. Music and Musical Thought in Early India. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-73034-9. Sorrell, Neil; Narayan, Ram 1980. Indian Music in Performance: A Practical Introduction. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-0756-9. Te Nijenhuis, Emmie 1974. Indian Music: History and Structure. BRILL Academic ; ISBN 90-04-03978-3. Wilke, Annette; Moebus, Oliver 2011. Sound and Communication: An Aesthetic Cultural History of Sanskrit Hinduism. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-024003-0 ;

Medieval Lute

Name: Medieval Lute.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.321.6
Country: Many.
Region: Western Europe & Europe.

Description: No lute has survived from medieval Europe. The instrument is well documented in numerous manuscript illustrations, paintings, drawings and sculptures from the period. The medieval lute is attested to have developed from the Arabic oud, which was present in Moorish Spain as early as the 9th century. The lute appears in many iconographic sources from throughout the Medieval period, often in the hands of angels when depicted in religious sources or on cathedral reliefs, or in the hands of male or female players in secular settings.

It is known that by the end of the period lutenists are mentioned in association with royal courts throughout Europe. The use of the medieval lute amongst other social classes is less clear. It is depicted being played as both a solo instrument and in combination with one or a few other instruments. No repertoire specific to the lute survives from this period, and this suggests that well-known melodies were performed extemporaneously on the instrument often in support of singing.

During subsequent centuries it spread to other parts of Medieval Europe including Germany where, by the early 15th century. Frets were added to the fingerboard. The neck was shortened from earlier forms of the instrument, and the acute bend of the pegbox became common. This lute design continued to evolve during the Renaissance period. During which a greater number of strings were added. Changes to the width of the neck to accommodate these additional courses were made, and the lute began to be constructed in a wider range of more standardized sizes.

Citations: Bibliography: Ian Harwood and Diana Poulton 1984 Lute, 3-7, NGDMI v2: 553-575 ; Keith Polk 1992 German Instrumental Music of the Late Middle Ages: Players, patrons and Performance Practice © Cambridge: Cambridge University Press ; Douglas Smith, Douglas Alton 2002 ; A History of the Lute from Antiquity to the Renaissance. [Lexington, VA?]: Lute Society of America ; Crawford Young 2000 Lute, Gittern, & Citole, in Ross W. Duffin, ed., The Performer’s Guide to Medieval Music. Bloomington: Indiana University Press ; Websites:


Name: Daegeum.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Flutes > Transverse.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.121.12
Country: Korea.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The daegeum [in Hangul 대금 in Hanja 大笒] is is a large transverse flute having a membrane that resonates when played. Smaller flutes in the same family include the junggeum [in hangul: 중금; hanja: 中笒] and sogeum [in hangul: 소금; hanja: 小笒], neither of which today have a buzzing membrane.

The three together are known as samjuk [in hangul: 삼죽; hanja: 三竹; literally “three bamboo”] or as the three primary flutes of the Silla period. The solo performance called daegeum sanjo was pronounced an Important Intangible Cultural Properties of Korea by the Cultural Heritage Administration of South Korea in 1971.

History: According to Korean folklore, the daegeum is said to have been invented when King Sinmun of Silla was informed by Park Suk Jung, his caretaker of the ocean [海官] in 618 that a small island was floating toward a Buddhist temple in the East Sea. The king ordered his caretaker of the sun to test whether this was good luck.

The caretaker replied that a dead king who turned into a sea dragon, and two great warriors are giving a gift to protect Silla, and if the king would visit the sea, he would receive a priceless gift. The king soon sent a person to look for the gift.

Legend Of Origin: The person replied that a bamboo tree on the top of the island becomes two in the morning and one in the night. On the next day, the world shook and it rained and wind blew, and the world was thrown into darkness for a week.

When the king went to the island himself, a dragon appeared and told him that if the bamboo on the top of the island was cut down, made into a flute, and blown, the country would be peaceful. The king cut down the tree, and the flute made from the bamboo was called Man Pa Sik Juk [萬波息笛].

Use: As a solo instrument it is loved for Chongsong Chajun Hanip and also plays Suyonjang Chigok and Chungyongsan from Yongsan Hoesang. It is also central to many shaman ensembles and has its own Daegeum Sanjo style. In court ensembles it featured in Yongsan Hoesang, Yomillak and Nagyangchun.

As an accompaniment instrument it is essential for Kagok and Shijo. Today, Daegeum is considered to produce comparatively fixed pitches. Tuned in Bb [B flat] a tone produced when the top five finger holes are covered. the daegeum is used as the main tuning instrument for ensembles.

Construction: The daegeum are normally made from a length of yellow bamboo with prominent nodes. Typically, ducts rung along either side of the tube between nodes. The upper end of the instrument is sealed with wax at the first node and the lower end is open. Court instruments are about 80 cm in length and have a large blowing hole and six finger holes.

Instruments used by rural musicians in shamanistic ceremonies and for Sanjo tend to be some 10 cm to 20cm shorter and have an even larger blowing hole that enables greater vibrato and pitch shading to be produced. Folk musicians rarely use the lowest finger hole and may even avoid the bottom two holes.

The former applies in Kin Yombul; the latter in accompaniments to some mask dramas. Between two and five additional small holes near the base serve as decoration and define the sounding length of the tube. Akhak Kwebom [1493] indicates that the correct number of such holes is five. Traditionally bands of whale tendons, but now bands of nylon or silk thread, are wrapped around the body to add strength and more decoration.

The characteristic sound of Daegeum owes much to the presence of a thin tissue-like membrane taken from the inside of a piece of bamboo or made from a reed. This membrane is fixed with oxhide glue over a further oval hole above the finger holes and a metal plate laced to the instrument with leather thongs protects it. As the plate is slid away from the membrane so sympathetic vibration increases.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Korean Culture & Arts Foundation [retrieved from archived website] ;


Name: Floyara.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Open > Ended.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.111.12
Country: Ukraine.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: The floyara [in Ukrainian: Флояра pronounced “floy-arka”]. It is open ended notched flute that is approximately a metre in length. The top end is bevelled, much like the Greek Flogera or Kaval. The floyara was often played at funerals in the Carpathian mountains. The floyarka is often called a frilka or sometimes zubivka in central Ukraine.

Playing Techniques: Shepherds were also able to accompany themselves with guttural humming which produced an ostinato tone or drone.

Construction: The floyarka is a smaller version of the floyara and is similar in length to the frilka. The floyara is approximately 60 cm [24 in] in length. The mouthpiece is bevelled in the same manner as the flogera or kaval. Six finger holes are drilled into the flute and spaced according to pitch.

Citations: Bibliography: Гуменюк, А. Українські народні музичні інструменти – Київ: Наукова думка, 1967 ; Humeniuk, A. Ukrainski narodni muzychni instrumenty – Kiev: Naukova dumka, 1967 ; Mizynec, V. Ukrainian Folk Instruments Melbourne: Bayda books, 1984 ; Cherkasky, L. – Ukrainski Narodni Muzyczni Instrumenty // Tekhnika, Kiev, Ukraine, 2003 – 262 pages, ISBN 966-575-111-5 ;