The hichiriki (篳篥) is a double reed Japanese fue (flute) used as one of two main melodic instruments in Japanese gagaku music. It is one of the "sacred" instruments and is often heard at Shinto weddings in Japan. Its sound is often described as haunting.
Although a double reed instrument like the oboe, the hichiriki has a cylindrical bore and thus its sound is similar to that of a clarinet. It is difficult to play due in part to the double reed configuration. It is made of a piece of bamboo that measures 18 centimeters with a flat double reed inserted which makes a loud sound.
Pitch and ornamentation (most notably bending tones) are controlled largely with the embouchure. The instrument is particularly noted for the embai ("salted plum seasoning"), a kind of pitch-gliding technique.
The hichiriki is the most widely used of all instruments in gagaku and it is used in all forms of music aside from poetry recitation. When playing hichiriki to perform Western songs and tunes, the sound of the hichiriki is very similar to the saxophone. The hichiriki is derived from the Chinese guan or bili, and is also related to the Korean piri. This is evident in the notations of the finger positioning, a tablature of signs derived from Chinese characters.
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- Renouf, Renee (2002-12-30). "Kuan Yin: Our Lady of Compassion" (PDF). ballet.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-03-23.[dead link]
- Picken, Laurence E. R.; Nickson, Noël J. (2007). Music from the Tang Court: Volume 7: Some Ancient Connections Explored. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-521-54336-1.
- Tenzer, Michael; Roeder, John (2011). Analytical and Cross-Cultural Studies in World Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 25, 26. ISBN 978-0-19-538458-1.
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