Tag Archives: Flutes



Name: Washint.
Type: Aerophones > Open-Ended > Flutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.111.12
Country: Ethiopia.
Region: Africa.

Description: The washint is an end-blown flute originally played in Ethiopia. It is played by the Azmari’s who are bards, analogous to Griots or Bards. They would pass their oral history through melody accompanied on the washint as well as the krar [plucked lyre], the masenqo [bowed instrument].

Construction: The washint can be constructed using wood, bamboo, or other cane. Varieties exists in different lengths and relative finger-hole placement. Also a performer might use several different flutes over the course of a performance to accommodate different song types. It generally has four finger-holes, which allows the player to create a pentatonic scale.

Citations: Bibliography: Nidel, Richard 2005 – World Music: The Basics. Routlidge Taylor & Francis Group, NY. Websites; Washint Melody [youtube video] ;


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 pain 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 mouth piece, 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 ;


Name: Serdam.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct > Ring.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.221.12
Country: South Sumatra & Jambi Sumatra, Indonesia.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The serdam is a duct flute that is found in South Sumatra and Jami Sumatra, Indonesia. The player utilizes circular breathing in performance. Playing the serdam often involves ornamentation in the melody and improvisation. On sad occasions the serdam is played when some one is dying or when a married woman longs for her home village or on certain days after a bereavement.

The serdam is about 50 cm in length. It is played in an oblique position. The duct is completed by a ring of bamboo a diameter wider than the flute its self. The ring its self is made from rattan. The distance of the finger holes is proportionate to the diameter of the bamboo.

Citations: Bibliography: Margret J. Kartomi, Stanley Sadie ~ New Grove Dictionary Of Music Vol, 3 Book P to Z Pages 347 ; Websites:


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

Description: The shinobue [In Japanese, kanji 篠笛; also called “takebue” in kanji: 竹笛] it is a Japanese transverse flute or fue that has a high-pitched sound. It is found in hayashi and nagauta ensembles, and plays important roles in noh and kabuki theatre music. It is heard in Shinto music such as kagura-den and in traditional Japanese folk songs.

History: The shinobue was not originally devised in Japan, it is thought that “Ryuteki” was originally transmitted from Chinese mainland as gagaku flute was supposed to have spread and spread among the common people. During the 8th century [Nara period] and later the 9th century [Heian era] the flute was introduced to Nara, Shosoin, Miyagi prefecture, Natori City “Shimizu site”.

Excavated flutes have been studied, the scale and structure are slightly different from each other, and a unified view on the history of flute in Japan has not been obtained. The shinobue to be described later was developed by Yoshinori Fukuhara from the Taisho and the 6th generations from the Taisho era to the early Showa era, and the name “Shinobue” was also attached by Fifu Hoshino Kosuke 5th at that time.

The two styles uta [song] and hayashi [festival]. The uta is tuned to the chromatic scale, and can be played in ensembles or as a solo instrument. The Hayashi is not in the correct pitch, because it is simply a piece of hollow bamboo with holes cut into it. It emits a very high-pitched sound, and is appropriate for the festival/folk music of Japan. Both shinobue flutes play a very important role in the Japanese theatre.

Citations: Bibliography: David W. Hughes, Fue, Ongaku Daijiten / Encyclopedia of Music, Tokyo 1981 ; Stanley Sadie ~ New Grove Dictionary of Music, Vol, 3 Book P to Z Page 374 ; Websites: Taiko-shop.com / Fingering Chart of Shinobue ;


Name: Satara.
Type: Aerophones > Double > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.221.12
Country: Rajasthan, India & Pakistan.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The satara is a duct flute played in pairs, akin to the alghoza. It is played primarily in the desert regions of Rajasthan, North India and Pakistan. Satara are played by shepherd communities or by castes of professional musicians most notably the Langa. The langa have adopted the satara for several generations. The langa perform folk melodies that are improvised, variation and ornamentation.

In Rajasthan the satara consists of two independent wooden pipes, whose upper ends are fitted with a block to delineate the air-duct, terminate in a beak. Two kinds of satara are distinguished: Those who the two pipes are of the same equal length about 60 cm] and a relation of roughly ‘one in a half’ indicated by the term Dhodha added to the name.

According to the area where this instrument is played, the flutes are known as satara, Pava or Algoja. The last term in general denotes in Rajasthan and India especially in the north. Other duct flutes that are played in pairs but with two separate melody pipes of similar size.

Playing Techniques: Both flutes are played by one musician utilizing circular breathing called “nakasi” during performance.

Citations: Bibliography: C. Sachs Die Musikinstrumente Indiens und Indonesiens [in English: Musical Instruments, Indians and Indonesians] Berlin and Leipzig,1914, 2 / 1912 ; K. S. Kothari: Indian Folk Musical Instruments New Dheli, 1968 / 62 ; G. Dourmon: Flutes of Rajasthan, LDX 76645 [compact disc notes] ; K. Kothari: Folk Musical Instruments of Rajasthan, Borunda, 1977 ; C. B. Deva: Musical Instruments of India their History and Development, Calcutta 1978 ; Stanley Sadie ~ New Grove Dictionary Of Music, Book 3, P to  Z Page 302, 303 Websites:


Name: Irish-Flute.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Transverse.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.121.12
Country: Ireland.
Region: North Western Europe.

Description: The term Irish Flute refers to a conical-bore, simple-system wooden flute of the type favoured by classical flautists of the early 19th century, or to a flute of modern manufacture derived from this design, often with modifications to optimize its use in traditional Irish and Scottish musics. This flute is played in almost every country in Ireland and has a very strong presence in the mid-western countries of Roscommon, Leitrim, Sligo, South Fermanagh, East Galway, Clare and West Limerick also having a reputation.

Tunings: The flute is tuned with keyless finger-holes playing a diatonic major scale as the tone holes are successively uncovered. Flutes from the Classical era and some of modern manufacture will include metal keys and additional tone holes to achieve partial or complete chromatic tonality.

Most Irish flutes are commonly pitched in D, other keys are available ranging from E flat, B flat and C. Although referred to as a D flute, this is a non-transposing instrument, so if you finger C, a concert-pitch C is sounded. The name D-flute comes from the fact that the simplest 6-hole wooden flute has D as its lowest note and plays the scale of D without any cross-fingering. The E-flat, B flat and C versions are transposing instruments.

Playing Techniques: The simple system flute has a distinctly different timbre from the Western concert flute. Most Irish flute players tend to strive for a dark tone in comparison to classical flautists.

Citations: Bibliography: Breathnach, Breandán: Folk Music and Dances of Ireland, 1971 ISBN 1-900428-65-2 ; Gearóid Ó hallmhuráin, 1998 ; A Pocket History of Irish Traditional Music. Dublin: O’Brien Press ; The Flute and its Patrons, Chapter XXVII of Francis O’Neill’s Irish Minstrels and Musicians. Taylor, Barry 2013 ; Music in a Breeze of Wing; Traditional Dance Music in West-Clare 1870-1970. Danganella: Barry Taylor. ISBN 978-0-9927356-0-9 ;


Name: Dizi.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Transverse.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.121.12
Bayin: 竹 Bamboo.
Specimens: 3 in collection.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch @ asza.com.

Description: The dizi [in Chinese: 笛子 in pinyin: dízi, pronounced approximately “titseu”], also called Zhudi [竹笛]. It is a traditional musical instrument of the Han Chinese, it is a flute made of bamboo. Being a major Chinese musical instrument it is found in many genres of Chinese folk music, Chinese opera and modern Chinese orchestra. Traditionally, the dizi has also been popular among the Chinese common people, and it is simple to make and easy to carry.

Features: Traditionally dizi is made by using a single piece of bamboo. While simple and straightforward, it is also impossible to change the fundamental tuning once the bamboo is cut, which made it a problem when it was played with other instruments in a modern Chinese orchestra.

In the 1920s musician Zheng Jinwen [鄭覲文, 1872-1935] resolved this issue by inserting a copper joint to connect two pieces of shorter bamboo. This method allows the length of the bamboo to be modified for minute adjustment to its fundamental pitch.

The dizi has a unique feature among flutes being a membrane covering a whole with the inner membrane of a common reed, called “di-mo” [笛膜]. This material can be acquired from the common reed, or purchased in a Chinese music store. Gum or Garlic juice is used to apply as an adhesive to hold the di-mo in place. The dizi is a relatively easy instrument to learn at first, but the standard for good dizi playing is quite high.

Professional dizi players from China are stunning in their virtuosity. Traditional dizi the finger-holes are spaced approximately equidistant, which produces a temperament of mixed whole-tone and three-quarter-tone intervals. Zheng also repositioned the figure-holes to change the notes produced.

During the middle of the 20th century dizi makers further changed the finger hole placements to allow for playing in equal temperament, as demanded by new musical developments and compositions, although the traditional dizi continue to be used for purposes such as kunqu accompaniment.

Varieties: The bangdi is one the smaller sized dizi’s available, whose rapid bird-song playing is familiar to Northern China. During the 20th Century, a third category appeared having a 7th finger hole. Formerly concentrated in the city of Suzhou.

The bangdi pitched in the same range as western piccolo and qudi pitched a fourth or fifth lower than the bangdi are the most predominant, other dizi include the xiaodi / gaoyindi pitched a fourth of fifth higher than the bangdi, the dadi / diyindi (pitched a fourth or fifth lower than qudi) and the deidi / diyindadi (pitched an octave lower than qudi).

In the 1930s, an 11-hole fully chromatic version of the dizi was created, pitched in the same range as the western flute. However, the modified dizi’s extra tone holes prevent the effective use of the membrane, so this instrument lacks the inherent timbre of the traditional dizi family.

Manufacturing: The success of this relatively inexpensive instrument is so great today, that the demand for raw material has made the bamboos old enough to build high-end flutes. Many of the major instrument makers, such as the famous Zhou Linsheng, continue to use yellow or white bamboo at an ever higher cost, and reserve their instruments for collectors and maestros scholarships. Others have turned to the use of bamboo less rare, harder to work, but no less interesting acoustically, especially from the regions of Hunan and Hubei.

Citations: Bibliography: Malcolm Tattersall Feb 2007 “Does It Matter What It’s Made Of?” ; Brookhaven National Laboratory September 22, 1999 ; “Brookhaven Lab Expert Helps Date Flute Thought to be Oldest Playable Musical Instrument” Tedesco, Laura Anne October 2000 ; “Jiahu ca. 7000–5700 B.C.”. Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Metropolitan Museum of Art ; “di musical instrument” Encyclopaedia Britannica ; Howard L. Goodman (2010). Xun Xu and the politics of precision in third-century AD China. Brill Publishers. p. 226. ISBN 90-04-18337-X ; Frederick Lau 20088 Kai-wing Chow ed. Beyond the May Fourth Paradigm: In Search of Chinese Modernity. Lexington Books. pp. 212–215. ISBN 978-0739111222 ; 陳正生 Chen Zhengsheng 22 October 2001 ; 談談民族管樂器聽覺訓練在演奏中的作用 Talking about the Role of National Wind Instrument Auditory Training in Performance [in Chinese] ; Frederick Lau 2008 Music in China. Oxford University Press. pp. 43–45. ISBN 978-0-19-530124-3 ;


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

Description: The bansuri is a side blown flute from South Asia found in many parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. It is one of the most common instruments in the North Indian or Hindustani classical music.

A similar flute is called venu is played in South Indian or Carnatic classical tradition. It is referred to as nadi and tunava in the Rigveda and other Vedic texts of Hinduism. Its importance and operation is discussed in the Sanskrit text Natya Shastra.

Etymology: The word bansuri originates in the bans [बाँस] [bamboo] + sur [सुर] [melody]. A phonetically similar same for the same instrument, in early medieval texts, is the Sanskrit word vamsi which is derived from root vamsa [Sanskrit: [वंश] meaning bamboo. A flute player in these medieval texts is called vamsika.

Other regional names of bansuri-style, six to eight play holes, bamboo flutes in India include bansi, eloo, kulal, kulalu, kukhl, lingbufeniam, murali, murli, nadi, nar, pawa, pullankuzhal, pillana grovi, pulangoil, vansi, vasdanda, and venuvu. In central and south India, a similar flute is called nagoza or mattiyaan jodi and Buddhist stupa reliefs in central India, from about the 1st century BCE, depict the single and twinned flute designs.

In Iconography: The bansuri-like flute is depicted in ancient Buddhist, Hindu and Jain temple paintings and reliefs, as well as is common in the iconography of the Hindu god Krishna. It is intimately linked to the love story of Krishna and Radha.

The bansuri is revered as Lord Krishna’s divine instrument and is often associated with Krishna’s Rasa lila dance. These legends sometimes use alternate names for this wind instrument, such as the murali.

However, the instrument is also common among other traditions such as Shivaism. The early medieval Indian texts also refer to it as vamshi, while in medieval Indonesian Hindu and Buddhist arts, as well as temple carvings in Java and Bali dated to be from pre-10th century period, this transverse flute has been called wangsi or bangsi.

Playing Techniques: The musician creates the notes while their finger pads cover the finger-hole. Circular breathing as with most aerophones played in India is required.

Construction: The bansuri is traditionally made from a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or seven finger holes. Diverse materials maybe used in modern designs from bone, fibreglass and a variety of metals. The six hole instrument covers two and a half octaves of music.

The bansuri is typically between 30 centimetres [12 in] and 75 centimetres [30 in] in length, and the thickness of a human thumb. One end is closed, and few centimetres from the closed end is its blow hole. The pitch of the bansuri is defined by the length of the instrument.

Citations: Bibliography: Arthur Berriedale Keith [1995] Vedic Index of Names and Subjects. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 441. ISBN 978-81-208-1332-8 ; Suneera Kasliwal [2004]. Classical musical instruments – Rupa. pp. 85–86. ISBN 978-81-291-0425-0 ;


Name: Svilpe.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Country: Latvia.
Region: Baltic States & North East Europe.

Description: The oldest example dates back from 1000 BC. It was made of bird bone, its length is 75 mm and diameter is 6 mm to 7 mm. Having only one sound hole such whistles were used recently as hunting decoys, signalling instruments and toys. They can also be made from bark, wood or clay.

The clay whistles are made in the images of birds, horses or demons. They usually have three finger holes, although a svilpe with only a single finger hole is rare. In Latgale, eastern Latvia, where clay whistles are most widespread, they are known as “Svilpaunieks”.

Citations: Bibliography: Arvidas Karaśka, Stanley Sadie ~ New Grove Dictionary Of Musical Instruments, Vol, 3 Book P to Z, Page 480 ; ISBN 0-333-37878-4 British Library of Cataloguing ; 0-9433818-05-2 Library Of Congress Cataloguing ;


Name: Svilpa.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Country: Lithuania.
Region: Baltic States & North East Europe.

Description: The Svilpa is a flute with out finger-holes from Lithuania. It is found mostly in the north-eastern regions [Alukštaitija]. In spring it is made from one or more pieces of osier or aspen bark. Instruments made from tin have been known since the earliest 20th century.

The svilpa can be encountered in the countryside until the 20th century to perform songs, dance melodies and improvisation. Nowadays it is used in folk music groups. Similar instruments are the Polish Fujuarka and Romanian Tilincă.

Construction: The svilpa is long and has a diameter of 1 to 2 cm. The svilpa can be of three types. End-blown, in which both ends are open and the upper end is cut at an angle. A duct flute or a transverse flute, with one end stopped and a mouth of made of 2 cm to 3 cm along the tube. Higher overtones of a natural scale can be produced on the svilpa by varying the pressure of breath and fully or partly closing the distal end of the tube with the index finger. The lower tones of the svilpa are weak, the higher tones increase with intensity.

Citations: Bibliography: Arvidas Karaśka, Stanley Sadie ~ New Grove Dictionary Of Musical Instruments, Vol, 3 Book P to Z, Pages 470, 480 ; ISBN 0-333-37878-4 British Library of Cataloguing ; 0-9433818-05-2 Library Of Congress Cataloguing ;