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 Chen Tao (Director)
 Melody of Dragon, Inc.
 53-19 195th Street
 Fresh Meadows, NY
 Tel: 347-259-9252


The Chinese Bamboo Flute

>> The dizi (Chinese bamboo flute) goes back more than 2,000 years in Chinese history and is the oldest Chinese wind instrument. It first gained its great popularity during the Han Dynasty. Because of its rich and varied sound it has always been one of the favorite instruments of the Chinese people. After the Song and Yuan dynasties and the development of Chinese opera, it became the most important accompanying instrument for many local operas. In the last few hundred years the flute has been used more on a solo basis, and at the same time it has become part of larger ensemble arrangements as well, particularly in the last century. Recently, the dizi has even been combined with Western instruments such as the cello, viola, and piano, with pleasant results.

Below the Yangtze River the flute is played in the Southern style, and is known as the qu di or da di. The qu refers to Kunqu, an operatic form that makes strong use of the flute. Da refers to its size it is larger than its Northern neighbor. Above the Yangtze the flute is played in the Northern style, and is at times called the xiao di. In this case xiao also refers to the size of the flute, which is relatively small. In both case, because they are made of bamboo, the flutes are simply referred to as "bamboo flutes." The Southern style of flute playing is softer and subtler than the lively, boisterous style of the North. While in the past the two styles were rarely combined, modern composers are now drawing on both traditions and creating exciting new arrangements for pioneering artists like Mr. Chen Tao, who is a virtuoso performer of both styles.

The Chinese flute differs from other flutes around the world not just because of its bamboo material but also in its use of a pliant reed membrane, which is placed over a certain hole in the flutes. The sound of the instrument will vary depending on how the reed is made and how it is attached.

Short Version

>> Dizi, a transverse bamboo flute with six finger holes, one blowhole and an extra membrane hole. The combination of the bamboo tube and vibrating reed membrane are responsible for the instruments bright, piercing tones. It is a most important wind instrument used in all genres of Chinese folk music and songs.


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