Category Archives: Flutes



Name: Bawu.
Types: Aerophones > Reeds > Free > Pipes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#:
Specimen: Three in Collection.
Area: Yunnan Province.
Country: China & Vietnam.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The bawu [simplified Chinese: 巴乌; traditional Chinese: 巴烏; pinyin: bāwū] is a free reed single pipe aerophone of the Miao Hmong], Dai, Yi, Hani and other minority cultures in Yunnan province and South Western China. The name Bawu is a Chinese name believed to be borrowed from Miao language; local names include bi [Dai], meiba [Hani] and jifeili [Yi]. The Thai pī saw is a related instrument. A similar instrument is found in Vietnam.

Construction: The bawu is constructed from a length of bamboo tube about 30 cm or longer. It is closed at the blowing end by a natural node, open at the bottom. Near the closed end a small rectangular opening is carved through the side of the bamboo and a free reed of bamboo or bronze secured over the opening.


Name: Txistu.
Type: Aerophones > Flute > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Area: Basque.
Country: France & Spain.
Regions: Iberian Peninsula.

Description: The txistu [Basque Pronunciation – In IPA: ˈtʃis̺tu]: It is a fipple flute that has became a symbol for the Basque Folk Revival.

Etymology: The name may stem from the general Basque word ziztu “to whistle” with palatalization of the z [cf zalaparta > txalaparta]. This three-hole pipe can be played with one hand, leaving the other one free to play a percussion instrument.

History: Evidence of the txistu first mentioned as such goes back to 1864. Yet it is apparent that it was used earlier. Although it is not easy to establish when it started out; actually. It is impossible to do so, the txistu being the result of an evolution of the upright flutes widespread as early as the Late Middle Ages. During the Middle Ages, minstrels scattered all over the Iberian Peninsula brought in instruments that locals, noblemen and common people later took on and developed.

Txistu Player: At the beginning, txistu players [txistularis] were named in romance written records after the tabor [pipe and tabor] were played together: tamborer, tamborino, tambolín, tamborín, tamboril, músico tamboril, tamborilero, tamboriltero. However, when named after the flute, they are called in Spanish pífano, silbato, silbo, silbo vizcaíno or chilibister.

Legends: There are differing claims as the origins of this particular flute, one such claim states that the Txistu closely relates to the early link between the Basques to the Iron an forging industry. Others suggest that the embedding of such pieces began in the industrial revolution of the 19th century.

The oldest txistu melodies are characterized by a Mixolydian mode in G, which is the same as the seventh mode in Gregorian chanting. More recently composed songs are still in G major, but in either natural or sharp F or, more rarely C. There are exceptions, however, in major F melodies with natural B.

The Association of Txistularies in the Basque Country was formed in 1927 to promote txistularis. The organization has continued its activities to the present, except for an interruption during the period of Francoist Spain.

Citations: Bibliography: Joseph Lauber, Los Chistularis, original inédito existente en Eresbil [Rentería]. Donostia P. Historia de las Danzas de Guipúzcoa, de sus melodías y sus versos – Instrumentos musicales de/pueblo vasco, [Zarauz, Ed. Itxaropena], p. 62 Websites: Jose Luis Ansorena Miranda ; Published in “The Txistu and the Txistularis”, Kutxa Gizarte eta Kultur Fundazioa. ISBN: 84-7173-288-2 Donostia 1996 / Websites: ; Jose Luis Ansorena Miranda / ;