Tag Archives: Aerophones



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

Description: A suling or Seruling is a Southeast Asian bamboo ring flute especially in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. It is used in gamelan ensembles. Depending on the regional genre, a suling can be tuned into different scales.

The following regions where the suling is found include Borneo, Bali, Java [Central Java], Maluku, Sunda [West Java] throughout Indonesia. It is also found in in neighbouring Malaysian peninsula including Singapore, Mindanao and Sulu Philippines.

In Brunei, the suling today is played during a cultural festival and other events together with other Bruneian traditional instruments especially the Gulintangan. While in East Malaysia, especially in Sabah with a wide variety of aerophones. the instrument is played by all the interior ethnic groups in the state of Kadazan-Dusun, Murut, Rungus and Lun Bawang / Lundayeh. In Sarawak, the suling is mostly played by men in a Dayak people longhouse.

The Maguindanaon suling is the smallest bamboo flute of the Maguindanaon and the only one classified as a ring-flute the other two bamboo flutes of the Maguindanaon, the tumpong and the palendag are both open-ended flutes. Traditionally only the palendag was commonly played but because of the difficult nature of playing the palendag.

Both the tumpong and the suling have come to replace the palendag as the Maguindanaon’s most common aerophones. Also called suling by the Tausug, Yakan, B’laan and Tiruray. Other names for the suling include the lantey [Ata], kinsi [Bukidnon], dagoyong [Higanon] and a babarak [Palawan].

Playing Techniques: Air is passed through the suling via a blowing hole found at the bottom of the instrument and pitch is controlled via five finger holes on the top and one finger hole located on the bottom. Fingering position and speed of airflow through the duct determine the tone.

The wavelength of the sound resonance is altered by the fingering when the instrument is being played. In Sudanese music the playing techniques here are accentuated with grace notes. Such effects are named as wiwiw, keleter, lelol, gebos, petit, jengkat and betrik.

Tunings: Sulings usually have four or six finger holes. The 6-holed Sundanese suling can play at least three different scales.

Suling Scales
Names Solfeggio Notes
Pelog Degung Da Mi Na Ti La Da C B G F B C
Madenda or Sorog Da Mi Na Ti La Da  F B C A F
Salendro D C G F D

Pelog Degung: The pelog degung Da Mi Na Ti La Da or as represented in intervals, 1 2 3 4 5 1 nearly corresponds to do si sol fa mi do or 1′ 7 5 4 3 1  or C B G F B C in the Western diatonic scale.

Madenda or Sorog: Da Mi Na Ti La Da 1 2 3 4 5 1 nearly similar to fa mi do si la fa 4’ 3’ 1’ 7 6 4 or F / B / C / A / F in the

Salendro:  1 2 3 4 5 1 nearly identical to the western diatonic scale Re Do La Sol Fa Re 2′ 1′ 6 5 4 2 or D C G F D in the Western diatonic scale.

Mandalungan: a rarely used scale

Construction: Sulings are made from a species of bamboo “tamiang bamboo” [Schizostachyum blumei, Nees].

Citations: Bibliography: Awang Mohd. Zain Jamil Al-Sufri [1990] ; Tarsilah Brunei: sejarah awal dan perkembangan Islam [in Malay]. Jabatan Pusat Sejarah Kementerian Kebudayaan, Belia, dan Sukan. Keat Gin Ooi [1 January 2004]. Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor. ABC-CLIO. pp. 923–. ISBN 978-1-57607-770-2 ;


Name: Shialtish.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Country: Mari El, Russian Federation.
Region: Volga, Ural Region, Eurasia.

Description: The shialtish wooden duct flute of the Mari people who live in Volga-Ural region in the Russian Federation. The flute is made from the stem of an angelica plant or wood. It has two to five finger holes and it is 40 cm to 60 cm in length. Formerly very widespread. It was sometimes used as a bird lure.

Citations: Bibliography: New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments Page 372 Shepor ; Websites:


Name: Recorder.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.221.12
Country: Many.
Region: Continental Europe, Global.

Description: The recorder [in German: Blockflöte], [in Italian: Flauto dolce or Flauto diritto], [in French: Flûte à bec or Flûte douce], [in Spanish: Flauta dulce or Flauta de pico] is a woodwind musical instrument in the group known as internal duct flutes. Internal duct flutes are flutes with a whistle-like mouthpiece in who the air when played is split by a labium.

A recorder can be distinguished from other duct flutes by the presence of a thumb-hole for the upper hand and seven finger-holes: three for the upper hand and four for the lower. It is the most prominent duct flute in western classical music.

History: The recorder is first documented in Europe during the Middle Ages. The recorder continued to enjoy wide popularity from the renaissance and baroque periods. The recorder was little used during the classical and later romantic periods. It was revived in the 20th century as part of the historically informed performance movement, and became a popular amateur and educational instrument.

Repertoire: Composers who have written for the recorder include Monteverdi, Lully, Purcell, Handel, Vivaldi, Telemann, Johann Sebastian Bach, Paul Hindemith, Benjamin Britten, Leonard Bernstein, Luciano Berio and Arvo Pärt. Today, there are many professional recorder players who demonstrate the instrument’s full solo range and a large community of amateurs.

Features: Recorders are available in various different sizes. They are classified according to the differing vocal ranges, soprano [the highest pitch], alto, tenor and bass. The soprano C5 the lowest note aka “decant”, the alto aka “Treble” note F4, the tenor lowest note C4 and bass C5 the lowest note in the recorder family.

Historic Recorders: Recorder consorts in the 16th century were tuned in fifths and only occasionally employed tuning by octaves as seen in the modern C / F recorder consort. This means that consorts could be composed of instruments nominally in B♭flat / F / C / G / D / A and E. Although typically only three or four distinct sizes were used simultaneously.

To use modern terminology, these recorders were treated as transposing instruments: Consorts would be read identically to a consort made up of F3 / C4 and G4 instruments.  This is made possible by the fact that adjacent sizes are separated by fifths, with few exceptions. These parts would be written using chiavi naturali, allowing the parts to roughly fit in the range of a single staff, and also in the range of the recorders of the period.

Transpositions [“registers”] such as C3 / G3 / D4 / G3 / D4 / A4 or B♭2 / F3 / C4 all read as F3 / C4 / G4 instruments. This was possible as described by Praetorius in his Syntagma Musicum. Three sizes of instruments could be used to play four-part music by doubling the middle size, e.g. F3 / C4 / C4 / G4 or play six-part music by doubling the upper size and tripling the middle size, e.g. F3 / C4 / C4 / C4 / G4 / G4

Modern nomenclature for such recorders refers to the instruments relationship to the other members of consort, rather than their absolute pitch, which may vary. The instruments from lowest to highest are called “great bass”, “bass”, “basset”, “tenor”, “alto”, and “soprano”. Potential sizes include: great bass in F2; bass in B♭2 or C3; basset in F3 or G3; tenor in C4 or D4; alto in F4 / G4 or A4 and soprano in C5 or D5.

The alto in F4 is the standard recorder of the Baroque, although there is a small repertoire written for other sizes. In 17th-century England, smaller recorders were named for their relationship to the alto and notated as transposing instruments with respect to it: third flute [A4] fifth flute [soprano; C5] sixth flute [D5] and octave flute [sopranino; F5]. The term flute du quart, or fourth flute [B♭4] was used by Charles Dieupart. Although curiously he treated it as a transposing instrument in relation to the soprano rather than the alto.

In Germanic countries, the equivalent of the same term, Quartflöte, was applied both to the tenor in C4, the interval being measured down from the alto in F4 and to a recorder in C5 [soprano], the interval of a fourth apparently being measured up from an alto in G4. Recorder parts in the Baroque were typically notated using the treble clef, although they may also be notated in French violin clef [G clef on the bottom line of the staff].

Construction: Recorders are traditionally constructed from wood and ivory, while most recorders made in recent years are constructed from molded plastic. The acoustic properties and design features of the recorder may vary from maker to maker. The bore is generally a reverse conical manner, tapering towards the foot to cylindrical. All recorder fingering systems make extensive use of forked fingerings.

Citations: Bibliography: Michael Praetorius / Syntagma Musicum written in 1620 to 1640 [historic text] ; The Recorder: A Research and Information Guide ~ By Richard W. Griscom, David Lasocki [google books]; Websites: Grove Music Online [Recorder Article]

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. This musical instrument consists 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 is held at the museum of the Brussels Conservatory, registering at the middle C for its lowest note. Three-pipes made from bone date back to the Middle Ages; such specimens have been found in England. There are images medieval tabor places in buildings. For example, York Minster, Lincoln Gloucester cathedrals and Tewksbury 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: Pincullo.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Specimens: 1 in collection.
Country: Many.
Region: South Americas.

Description: The pincullo or pinkillu [in Quecha] is a short length flute having a closed fipple at the top of the instrument. This flute is played in Bolivia and Peru. Pincullo are played solo, or in ensemble often accompanied by percussion or stringed instruments or both depending on the region the pincullo is played. Usually having 6 to 7 finger holes.  

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Websites / MIMO International ~ Musical Instrument Museums Online [Pincullo article] ; Metmuseum.org [Bolivian Pincullo] ; Waka Pincullo by J. Richard Haefer ~ Grove Music Online ;


Name: Moceños.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Specimen: 2 in collection.
Country: Bolivia & Peru.
Region: South America.
Acquisition Source: 1st specimen was acquired in Vancouver. 2nd specimen was acquired from Rene Hugo-Sanchez.

Description: The moceño is a wind instrument or aerophone of considerable size, built of wood from a large bush called “tuquru”. The moceño is also played Bolivia and in some neighbouring regions in southern Peru. These are the ones that are called “Senqa Tanqana” which in Quechua means “big nose” or “growing nose”. Although there are also specimens with a posterior hole to enrich their range.

Construction: The moceño is built with two tubes facing parallel to one another. The Moceño is held together by pitch and animal hide wrapped and tied together. Thus holding everything together in place.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:


Name: Kuisi.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > 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: Koncovka.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Country: Slovakia.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Descriptions: The Koncovka is a Slovak duct-blown overtone fipple flute without finger holes. Traditional koncovka melodies use the partial Lydian scale available on this instrument.

Playing Techniques: It is traditionally played by shepherds. The koncovka flute is played by closing and opening the bottom hole of the flute. By increasing the air speed, two different harmonic series of notes can be played with the end either open or closed.



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

Description: The khlui [in Thai: ขลุ่ย] is a vertical duct flute from Thailand. Originated before or during the Sukhothai period [1238-1583AD] along with many other Thai instruments. The history of this flute was officially recorded as a Thai instrument by king Trailokkanat [1431-1488], who sets the official model of the instruments. It is a duct-flute. it survives to the present day as the khlui phiang aw.

Types: With a long history, the instrument had been modified to be used in other occasions, making new types of Khlui that was invented. There are 3 main types of Khlui, although there are also many others. The 3 types of Khlui, that is still popular to the present day. These versions of the khlui are the khlui phiang aw, khlui phiang lib or the khlui u.

Construction: Generally made of bamboo, though instruments are also made from hardwood or plastic. After many generations of modifications.



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

Description: A khloy [in Khmer: ខ្លុយ khloy] is a traditional bamboo flute from Cambodia and more specifically the Khmer people. The khloy and other similar bamboo flutes can be found throughout Asia, due to bamboo’s abundance in the region. The Cambodian khloy is often mistaken for its close relative of Thailand, the klui flute. Unlike the klui flute, the khloy is generally played solo in an informal setting. The khloy is mostly played using the pentatonic scale.

Construction: The khloy is a duct flute, about 38 cm or 15 inches in length and 2.5 cm or 1 inch in diameter, with 8 or 9 finger holes, and a duct end where the player blows into to produce a sound.