Flutopedia - an Encyclopedia for the Native American Flute

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Flutopedia Symposium

World Flutes

NAF players and makers can gain a wide perspective on their instrument by taking a look at the breadth of flutes that have developed around the world. These flutes have huge variations in design, finger layouts, tunings and scales, and sound mechanisms.

This page lists all types of musical instruments that are classified as flutes, with the exception of:

For flutes where I have first-hand information I provide as much information as I can. For other flutes, I give links to other web resources. If you know about a type of flute that I missed, please contact me! Flutes are listed alphabetically, for lack of a better system.

Antara and Rondador (So. America)

Atenteben

Bansuri

Bawu

The bawu [bah-woo] (Traditional Chinese: 巴烏; Simplified Chinese: 巴乌; pinyin: bāwū; also spelled “ba wu”) is a free reed instrument (HS 41) in the same class as the harmonica, shruti box, and Chinese sheng.

The bawu has seven finger holes with a finger layout like the main tube of the hulusi: six finger holes on the front an a thumb hole on the back. The typical finger layout is T123-123.

The primary fingering sequence on the bawu (in SNAFT notation) is straight-fingered:

<xxxx|xxx
<xxxx|xxo
<xxxx|xoo
<xxxx|ooo
<xxxo|ooo
<xxoo|ooo
<xooo|ooo
<oooo|ooo

... which gives you a primary scale very similar to a diatonic flute except that it has one missing note. On the bawu shown on the right, which is tuned to the key of F, the notes from bottom to top are C D E F G A C D. So, the primary intervals are rootmajor second - major third fourthfifthmajor sixthoctavemajor ninth. This is the diatonic scale with the major seventh missing.

However, it is traditional to use the note with the fingering of <xxxx|ooo for the root of the scale for the instrument. The fundamental note of the bawu shown is a C, but the root of the scale (with the <xxxx|ooo fingering) is F. Using F as the root of the scale, the intervals are rootmajor second - major third fifthmajor sixthmajor seventh octave, which is the diatonic scale with the fourth missing.

On many bawus, you can get several additional notes by cross-fingering. In particular you can get two notes with the fingerings of <xoxx|xxx and <xoxx|xxo. This gives you a full diatonic scale (scale steps 2-2-1-2-2-2-1) with the finger sequence:

<xxxx|xxx
<xxxx|xxo
<xxxx|xoo
<xxxx|ooo
<xxxo|ooo
<xxoo|ooo
<xoxx|xxo
<xooo|ooo

... and a full mixolydian scale (scale steps 2·2·1·2·2·1·2) with the finger sequence:

<xxxx|xxx
<xxxx|xxo
<xxxx|xoo
<xxxx|ooo
<xxxo|ooo
<xxoo|ooo
<xoxx|xxx
<xooo|ooo

For more information on the bawu, see:


Bilangdao

See the Hulusi.

Blockflöte

See the Recorder.

Blul

See the Sring.

Bungo'o

Chi

Curcurbit

See the Hulusi.

Daegeum

Dangjeok

Danso

Dongdi

Dizi

The dizi is a transverse flute indigenous to cultures in present-day China.

For information on the dizi, see:

Dvoyanka (Bulgaria)

Forest Flute

Forest Flute

Forest Flute
Photo by Alf Jetzer

The Erdklangflöte (literally “Earth sound flute”) is a duct flute developed by Alf Jetzer, a Swiss instrument maker. His term for the instrument in English is “forest flute”, because the sound quality it produces.

The forest flute has six finger holes: five on the front an a thumb hole on the back. The typical finger layout is T12-123 or T13-123. Notice in the picture on the right that the bottom finger hole is offset to help with finger reach.

Audio Player disabled - visit Troubleshooting.

Hearth Spirit - Clint Goss on a C minor Forest Flute - song composed by Alf Jetzer. Recorded and mixed by Butch Hall November 18, 2004 at the Armadillo Flute Retreat.

Khlui - Bamboo in a Skyscraper

The primary fingering sequence on the forest flute is straight-fingered - Finger diagram closed closed closed closed closed closed Finger diagram closed closed closed closed closed open Finger diagram closed closed closed closed open open Finger diagram closed closed closed open open open Finger diagram closed closed open open open open Finger diagram closed open open open open open Finger diagram open open open open open open - which gives you a primary scale very similar to a contemporary Native American flute, but with an extended range because of the thumb hole. The bottom 5 holes of the forest flute work like a five-hole Native American flute. The primary intervals are rootminor thirdfourthfifthminor seventhoctave - major ninth. With the addition of the upper-register fingering of Finger diagram open closed closed closed closed open you can easily add the minor tenth to the primary scale.

For more information:

Frula

The frula [fruh-luh] is (typically) a small six-hole wood flute of Seribian origin, played in Eastern Europe and the Balkan countries.

The frula I purchased from instrument dealer Søren Venema of Palm Guitars in Amsterdam in February 2012 is made of rosewood with metal endcaps. Picture and recording to be posted soon ...

Fue

Fue (Japanese Kanji: ; Japanese Hiragana: ふえ) is the Japanese word for “flute”. It is used for all flutes indigenous to Japan, such as the shakuhachi.

Fujara

Hano

See the 'Ohe Hano Ihu.

Hocchiku

The hocchiku (also spelled “hochiku” and “hotchiku”; Japanese: 法竹) is an end-blown flute (class HS 421.111) indigenous to Japan.

The hocchiku is a close relative to the shakuhachi, but with a simpler design: the hocchiku is a one-piece instrument, with less finishing work than the shakuhachi.

For information on the hocchiku, see:

Hsuan

See the Xūn.

Huaca

Hulusi

Hulusi

The Hulusi Larger image

The hulusi [hoo-loo-see] (Traditional Chinese: 葫蘆絲; Simplified Chinese: 葫芦丝; pinyin: húlúsī) is a free reed instrument (HS 41) in the same class as the harmonica, shruti box, and Chinese sheng.

I have been told that the hulusi is the most popular instrument in the world, since virtually every household in Southern China has one. The hulusi is also called the “cucurbit flute” and the “bilangdao” (Chinese: 筚朗叨).

The hulusi is a type of double flute - it has three tubes, but one is typically decorative. The center tube is used for the main melody and one of the side tubes provides an optional drone note.

The main tube of the hulusi has seven finger holes with a finger layout like the bawu: six finger holes on the front an a thumb hole on the back. The typical finger layout is T123-123.

The primary fingering sequence on the hulusi (in SNAFT notation) is straight-fingered:

<xxxx|xxx
<xxxx|xxo
<xxxx|xoo
<xxxx|ooo
<xxxo|ooo
<xxoo|ooo
<xooo|ooo
<oooo|ooo

... which gives you a primary scale very similar to a diatonic flute except that it has one missing note. On the hulusi shown on the right, which is tuned to the key of C, the notes from bottom to top are G A B C D E G A. So, the primary intervals are rootmajor second - major third fourthfifthmajor sixthoctavemajor ninth. This is the diatonic scale with the major seventh missing.

However, it is traditional to use the note with the fingering of <xxxx|ooo for the root of the scale for the instrument. The fundamental note of the hulusi shown is a G, but the root of the scale (with the <xxxx|ooo fingering) is C. Using C as the root of the scale, the intervals are rootmajor second - major third fifthmajor sixth - major seventh octave, which is the diatonic scale with the fourth missing.

The drone note provided by the side tube is optional: the drone note only sounds if the finger hole on the side tube is open. The drone note on the hulusi shown on the right is an E, which matches the fingering of <xxoo|ooo on the main tube.

For more information on the hulusi, see:


Irish Whistle

Jaleika

Jeok

Ji

Junggeum

Kalyuka

Referred to in [Joyce-Grendahl 2010], page 7, ¶2.

Kaval - Bulgarian vs. Turkish

Khaen player

Khaen player More information

Khaen

The khaen [kyn] (also spelled “khene”, “kaen”, and “khen”; Laothian: ແຄນ; Thai: แคน).

Laos.

Despite its appearance, the khaen is not a flute. It's a free reed instrument (HS 41) in the same class as the harmonica, shruti box, and Chinese sheng.

Here is a short kaen solo, an excerpt from track 2 on the CD "Kaen Music of Laos"

Audio Player disabled - visit Troubleshooting.


Khloy

The khloy (also spelled “kaloy”; Khmer: ខ្លុយ) is a bamboo duct flutes indigenous to Cambodia. It is very similar to the Thai khlui, but typically has one less finger hole.

There are two sizes of khloy:

  • khloy toch or khloy ek: smaller / higher pitch
  • khloy thom: larger / lower pitch

Khlui

Khlui

Khlui back
Click to
expand

The khlui (Thai: ขลุ่ย) is a family of duct flutes indigenous to the Thai people and is common in present-day Northern Thailand.

  • It has eight finger holes: seven on the front an a thumb hole on the back. The typical finger layout is 1T23-1234.
    • Note that the thumb hole on the back is actually further down the flute than the top hole on the front of the flute, so the finger layout is 1T23... rather than T123...
    • Also note that the Background of the Khlui web site says that the typical player uses their right hand for the upper holes and the left hand for the lower holes, which is opposite from the typical Native American flute player.
  • It has a sound hole that is on the bottom/back of the instrument when it is held normally (vertically) by the player.
  • It can be made of bamboo or, in modern versions, wood.

The image at the right shows the back of an early 20th century khlui, from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (click the image for a larger view). It shows the true sound hole, a thumb hole for the upper hand, and one of the tuning holes at the bottom.

The khlui family includes three sizes of instruments, with size measurements from the Background of the Khlui web site:

  • khlui lib (Thai: ขลุ่ยหลิบ) the smallest - 14½" long
  • khlui phiang aw (or “khlui phiang o”; Thai: ขลุ่ยเพียงออ) the middle size - 18" long (the khlui phiang o shown in the photo on the right is 16 9/16" long)
  • khlui u (Thai: ขลุ่ยอู้) the largest - 24" long

The khlui shares an interesting feature that are present on many Native American flutes: direction holes. Here is a description of the four direction holes near the bottom of the khlui, from the

At the lower end of the body there are four more holes made in pairs at right angles to each other, i.e., one pair is made from front to back and the other from left to right.
 
The pairs overlap each other slightly, the pair going from front to back being a little higher than the pair going from right to left. A cord or ribbon is put through the holes going from right to left by which the instrument may be hung up or carried by the hand. These holes are then naturally called “the holes through which a cord is put.” The other pair of holes seems to have neither a special name nor a specific function. Perhaps they are merely for decoration, to balance the other set of holes.

 

Audio Player disabled - visit Troubleshooting.

Excerpt from The Wild Dove - Bringkop Vora-urai on khlui - track 7 on the CD Khlui - Bamboo in a Skyscraper « อัลบั้มนี้มีชื่อว่า ลำไผ่ ในตึกสูง » - [Khantoke 2003].

This is a traditional melody of the Karen (or “Kayin”; Thai: กะเหรี่ยง) people of Southeastern Myanmar (Burma) and Western Thailand. This track is also an excellent example of an ostinato with the string instrument setting up a steady repeating pattern before the melody on the khlui.

Khlui - Bamboo in a Skyscraper

Tuning

According to Getting Started on the Khlui, the primary fingering sequence on the khlui (in SNAFT notation) is:

<xxxx|xxxx
<xxxx|xxxo
<xxxx|xxoo
<xxxx|xooo
<xxxx|oooo
<xxxo|oooo
<xxoo|oooo
<xooo|oooo

... which gives you the scale C D E F G A B C. However, the web site does not say which instrument in the khlui family this is scale is for.

For more information:

Komabue

The komabue (Japanese: 高麗笛) is a side-blown bamboo flute indigenous to Japan. It has six finger holes and is 36.8 cm (14.5") long.

For information on the komabue, see:

Koudi

Ney

Nohkan

The nohkan (Japanese: 能管) is a transverse flute with seven finger holes indigenous to Japan.

The primary material is bamboo, but the nohkan is not made of an culm of bamboo like the hocchiku or the shakuhachi. The bamboo is cut into strips, reversed so that the outside of the bamboo culm becomes the inside of the nohkan, and then the strips are glued together.

The bore of the instrument is conical - tapering down near the foot of the flute to a smaller bore than at the head end. The head end of the instrument also has a bore restriction near the head end. The unusual bore shape gives the nohkan a strong high pitch.

The nohkan is 39.1 cm (15.4") long.

For information on the nohkan, see:

Moseño

Ocarina

Not a vessel flute.

'Ohe Hano Ihu

The 'ohe hano ihu [oh-hey hah-noh ee-hoo] (often shortened to “hano” or “ohe”) is a three-hole nose flute indigenous to Hawaii.

For information on the 'ohe hano ihu, see [Emerson 1909] Unwritten Literature of Hawaii — The Sacred Songs of the Hula. Also see these web sites:

Piaxiao

Pifilca

Pistalka, Konkovka

Quena, Quenacho

Recorder

aka Block Flute, blockflote, flute a bec. “flûte à bec” and “blockflöte”

Ring Flute

The ring flute is a circular transverse flute (class HS 421.12) invented by James Johnson.

For information on the ring flute, see:

Ryūteki

The ryūteki (Japanese: 龍笛) is a side-blown bamboo flute indigenous to Japan. It has seven finger holes and is 40.2 cm (15.8") long.

For information on the ryūteki, see:

Sáo

Satara

The satara is a double duct flute indigenous to India.

Here's a YouTube video that demonstrates the customary satara playing style:

Some playing techniques to notice in this video:

Seljefløyte

Norwegian name. Also called a “willow flute” or a “sallow flute”. Swedish: sälgflöjt or sälgpipa, Finnish: pitkähuilu or pajupilli). Overtone flute. FIPPLE. Norwegian. [Joyce-Grendahl 2010]

Shakuhachi

Japan

Sheng

China

Shinobue

The shinobue (also called the “takebue”; Japanese: 篠笛) is a transverse flute indigenous to Japan.

For information on the shinobue, see:

Sikus or Zamponias

So

Sogeum

Sopilka

Sring

The sring (also spelled “srink”; Armenian: սրինգ; also called the “blul”).

Suling

Solje flute

Takebue

See the Shinobue.

Tarka

Tongso

Xiao

Xindi

Xūn

The xūn [shuon] (also spelled “xuān” or “hsuan”; Chinese: ) is a small pottery vessel flute, shown in these two photos:

Plain Glazed Chinese XūnDecorated Chinese Xūn

Photos of a plain glazed and a decorated Chinese Xūn More information More information

Yak

Yokobue

Yue

 
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