Bamboo Flutes: distinctive in every culture!
People like to make music: in traditional ceremonies, or simply for atmosphere and entertainment. This has been happening for thousands of years, all over the world. When making the instruments, a hollow bamboo pole is an obvious base for a flute. With the growth of bamboo across the Southern Hemisphere, it is no surprise that bamboo flutes can be found in all kinds of cultures. This ancient instrument can be found in many forms. For example, in China they even have a word that literally means bamboo flute: zhudi. Bamboo Import Europe regularly has customers who make flutes from bamboo. We also know that the list with all variations is very long. In this blog we will therefore discuss a selection of bamboo flutes from all over the world. Do you make your own bamboo flute? Let us know!
The Japanese Shakuhachi and Ryuteki
In Japan, you first have the Shakuhachi. This ancient bamboo flute is mainly used for meditation music. The name comes from two Japanese words “Shaku” and “Hachi”. The meaning is given to the length of the flute. It comes down to 54.54 centimetres, which is the standard length of a Shakuhachi. Sometimes there is some variation in the length, but they all fall under the name Shakuhachi. That has to do with the fact that (just like the rest of the flutes) the Shakuhachi is made in a special way. Tradition determines the sound it produces. The Shakuhachi is made from the lower part of the bamboo, including the underground clump. That is why you still see part of the roots with a Shakuhachi.
Another well-known Japanese bamboo flute is the Ryuteki. Ryuteki means "Dragon's flute". The sound would symbolize the dragons that live between heaven and earth. The Ryuteki is used in gagaku. This is the Shinto classical music used in the Japanese court system.
The Chinese Dizi
The Chinese Dizi is a flute from China. A piece of membrane is pasted over the air hole, which gives the flute a unique sound. There are variations of the Chinese Dizi in archaeological finds from up to 9,000 years ago. This Dizi flute is one of the oldest playable instruments of all time.
The Indian Bansuri
The Bansuri is a flute from India and often heard in classical Indian music. But you can also play modern, western music on it. You can see the Bansuri flute in drawings, paintings and statues from Buddhist, Hindu and Jain temples. Especially the Hindu god Krishna can often be seen with a Bansuri flute.
The Thai Khlui
The Khlui is a bamboo flute from Thailand. This flute is originally from the Sukhothai period (1283-1583), like many other Thai instruments. The Khlui was only recognized as an instrument by the king Trailokkanat (1431-1488). This model is therefore the example for all Khluis who follow. Now the Khlui is known as the Khlui Phiang Aw.
The Cambodian Khloy
This Cambodian flute is often mistaken for its Thai variant. However, the Khlui is different from the Khloy. The Khloy has a membrane of rice paper or a very thin layer of bamboo on the highest hole. It is an old instrument that is mainly played in an informal setting.
The Korean Daegeum
The Daegeum is a relatively large bamboo flute, often used in traditional Korean music. The vibrating membrane gives the flute a unique tone. The origin of this musical instrument is in the legend of King Sinmun of Silla, from 681. The story goes that a small island was floating towards a Buddhist temple in the East Sea. The king was told that if he visited the island, he would receive a priceless gift. He sent someone to the island to find out what the present would be, but they only found bamboo. The next day there was so much wind and rain that the world was in darkness for a week. Then the king decided to visit the island. A dragon appeared and told him: Harvest the bamboo from high on the island and make a flute out of it. As long as you blow the flute there will be peace.
Thus, the Daegeum has its royal origin and is still used in traditional music in Korea.
The Indonesian Suling
The Suling or Seruling is a traditional instrument on the islands of Southeast Asia. We say it comes from Indonesia, but actually originated in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore. It is used in Degung ensembles and is made from Tamiang bamboo: a long, thin bamboo. At the mouth hole is usually a thin band of rattan, this is mainly for decoration.
The South American Quena
In South America, the Andes Mountains run through many countries. In the Andes we know the Quena as a traditional flute. Typically made of bamboo, but in Peru you can also see them made from the bones of a Condor. Quenas are never played alone, but always in pairs in order to harmonize. The Quena is also often played in combination with a pan flute.