Bamboo flute

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Bamboo flute
Krishna playing flute with his herd of cows in Bucesvara Temple, Koravangala. 12th century.
Woodwind instrument
Classification woodwind
Hornbostel–Sachs classification421
(421.11 End-blown flutes
421.12 Side-blown flutes)
DevelopedUnknown where flutes developed. Flutes tens-of-thousands of years old have been discovered in Europe and Asia. Bamboo flutes spread from China and India, along silk road, and across the oceans to Southeast Asia and Africa. Native Americans also made bamboo flutes.

The bamboo flute, especially the bone flute, is one of the oldest musical instruments known.[1] Examples of Paleolithic bone flutes have survived for more than 40,000 years, to be discovered by archaeologists.[1] While the oldest flutes currently known were found in Europe, Asia too has a long history with the instrument that has continued into the present day. In China, a playable bone flute was discovered, about 9000 years old.[2]

Historians have found the bamboo flute has a long history as well, especially China and India. Flutes made history in records and artworks starting in the Zhou dynasty. The oldest written sources reveal the Chinese were using the kuan (a reed instrument) and hsio (or xiao, an end-blown flute, often of bamboo) in the 12th-11th centuries b.c., followed by the chi (or ch'ih) in the 9th century b.c. and the yüeh in the 8th century b.c.[3] Of these, the chi is the oldest documented cross flute or transverse flute, and was made from bamboo.[3][4] The Chinese have a word, zhudi, which literally means "bamboo flute."[5]

The cross flute (Sanscrit: vāṃśī) was "the outstanding wind instrument of ancient India," according to Curt Sachs.[6] He said that religious artwork depicting "celestial music" instruments was linked to music with an "aristocratic character."[6] The Indian bamboo cross flute, Bansuri, was sacred to Krishna, and he is depicted in Hindu art with the instrument.[6] In India, the cross flute appeared in reliefs from the 1st century a.d. at Sanchi and Amaravati from the 2nd-4th centuries a.d.[6][7]

In the modern age, bamboo flutes are common in places with ready access to bamboo, including Asia, South and Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa.

See: Chinese flutes

End blown flute mouthpieces[edit]

Name Description Picture
Xiao blowing hole (the hole faces away from the player, against the lower lip, making sure the top lip is not concealing the hole, when the instrument is played. Works on the same basics as blowing air over an empty bottle to create noise.)
Shakuhachi Kinko school utaguchi (歌口, blowing edge) and inlay. The shakuhachi player blows as one would blow across the top of an empty bottle (though the shakuhachi has a sharp edge to blow against called utaguchi) and therefore has substantial pitch control.
Hotchiku Same technique as shakuhachi. The angle of the utaguchi (歌口, lit. "singing mouth"), or blowing edge, of a hotchiku is closer to perpendicular to the bore axis than that of a modern shakuhachi.
Quena To produce sound, the player closes the top end of the pipe with the flesh between the chin and lower lip, and blows a stream of air downward, along the axis of the pipe, over an elliptical notch cut into the end.
Blowing tip of Quena flute, South America
Khlui Thailand. A block has been put into the end of the flute, an internal fipple that creates a hole to blow through, channeling air through a duct to create sound.

List of bamboo flutes, cane flutes, reed flutes[edit]

This list is intended to show flutes made of bamboo. It excludes pan flutes or panpipes, and flutes and whistles that don't have finger positions to change notes. It also excludes pipes that use reeds to produce the sound. Bamboo is a grass, and some "cane" or "reed" flutes may get listed here, as long as the plant is being used for a tube that is blown into or across to create noise. Types of flutes include transverse flutes (also called cross flutes), end-blown flutes (ring flutes are included with these) and Nose flutes. Fipple flutes, also called duct flutes, may be added to the list as well, as long as they are bamboo-based instruments. The bamboo variant may be added for instruments that include wood and bamboo versions.

Name in English Name in other language Place / Region Picture Soundhole Description
Atenteben Ghana[8][9][10]
Bansuri Bangladesh
A group of bansuri flutes, grouped low pitched to high pitched.
Bansuri India[11]
Musician playing a large bansuri; the larger instrument is lower toned than a smaller bansuri.
Bām̐surī (Nepali: बाँसुरी) Nepal
Public performance by Newar musicians with flutes, Lalitpur.
Bata Nalawa Sri Lanka
Chi China[3]
Dizi Chinese: 笛子
pinyin: dízi)
Group of dizi flutes in different sizes and pitches.
Daegeum (Korean: 대금) Korea
Dangjeok or Jeok Hangeul : 당적
hanja : 唐笛
Danso Hangul: 단소
Hanja: 短簫
Donali دونَلی Iran
Dongdi China
Fijian nose flute Viti Levu
Nose flute This nasal flute is made from a section of bamboo, pierced with nine holes. The entire surface is decorated with geometric patterns of different shapes, forming several registers in the vertical direction. To play the flute, a hole must be applied against one nostril while the other is blocked by the fingers.
Friscolettu[14] Sicily fipple Seven holes on the front, two in the back
Hotchiku 法竹 Japan[15]
Garau-nai Uzbekistan, Tajikistan[16]
India nose-flute bansuri West Bengal
Fipple In 1799, artist Frans Balthazar Solvyns depicted an end-blown flute, called Bansuri (like the side-blown flute), being played nasally.
Ji Korea
Junggeum Hangul: 중금
Hanja: 中笒)
Top a daegeum, in the middle a junggeum, to the right a piri.
Kagurabue (Japanese: 神楽笛)) Japan[18]
Khloy Khmer: ខ្លុយ
Burmese: ပုလွ
Myanmar (Burma)
end-blown duct flute. Mouthhole on bottom of pipe's end, soundhole on flute's bottom (opposite side of the pipe from the fingerholes).[20] This flute may have as many as 8 fingerholes, plus up to 2 additional thumbholes; the thumbholes offer additional notes.[20]
Khlui (Thai: ขลุ่ย Thailand
end-blown duct flute. Mouthhole on top of pipe's end, soundhole on flute's top.
Komabue Japanese: 高麗笛 Japan[21]
Komabue in the Metropolitan Museum of Arts
Koudi Chinese: 口笛
pinyin: kǒudí
A koudi. The large hole in the middle is the blowing hole, and the three smaller holes on the top are finger holes. The two open ends of the tube are also used, played with the thumbs.
Lalove Indonesia
Malaysian nose flute Sarawak
Nose flute on Sarawak
Nose flute
Minteki or shinteki minteki: (kanji: 明笛
shinteki: (kanji: 清笛))
Moseño Andes mountains[23][24]
Murali Nepal[25]
Native American flute United States (Native American)
Nohkan 能管 Japan
Bottom, a Nohkan. The rest are shinobue.
Ney Iran
Turkish ney
Ohe Hano Ihu Hawaii
Paiwan nose flute Taiwan
Paiwanese nose flute with two pipes.
Nose flute Instrument of the Paiwan people of Taiwan.
Palendag Philippines[26]
Palwei (German Wikipedia) Burmese: ပလွေ Myanmar
Palwei, a Myanmar transverse flute.
Pinkillu Peru, Andes mountains[27]
Pinkillu flute and tinya drum. The musician plays the flute one handed while playing the drum.
Quena Andes
Quena, made from American species of bamboos, (bamboo genera Aulonemia or Rhipidocladum.[28] Also the tokhoro, a species of cane.[28]
Ryūteki Japan[29]
Sáo Sáo trúc Vietnam[30]
Shakuhachi 尺八 Japan[31][32]
Shinobue or takebue Shinobue:


All but the bottom flute are shinobue. The bottom flute is a Nohkan.
Sogeum Korean소금
Suling Indonesia[35]
Man playing end-blown suling, a bamboo ring flute.
Suling Papua, New Guinea
Woman playing a suling transverse bamboo flute, from Papua, New Guinea.
Tahitian nose flute Tahiti
Nose flute Bamboo nose flute bound with bands of colored coconut fiber. Collected from Tahiti, the Society Islands during Cook's voyages to the Pacific 1768–1780.
Tongso Korean: 퉁소 Korea[6]
Venu Sanskrit: वेणु India
Wa Myanmar
Xiao Chinese:
Simplified Chinese:
Pinyan: xiāo
Xindi Chinese:
; pinyin: xīndí
Yak Korea
Yokobue Japan
Yue China[36]


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  23. ^ "MOXEÑO o MOSEÑO". Archived from the original on 2020-11-30. Retrieved 2020-12-01. system of insufflation...placing a cane of conduit towards the blow through the artificial "mouth"...due to the great distance from the normal mouth to the holes.
  24. ^ "La Quena". Archived from the original on 2020-02-06. Retrieved 2020-12-01. ...a flute originally from South America, from the Andean zone (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina...
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