Dizi & Flutes
The dizi is a bamboo flute. Traditionally, only three keys can be played with precise intonation. Most players equip themselves with a consort of dizi in different sizes and keys. The dizi has a membrane over an extra tone hole to give the rattle effect of the Chinese flute.
Styles of Dizi
Dizi and dizi playing largely come under two styles – Northern and Southern.
Northern dizi are typically shorter and smaller. They also are pitched higher and brighter. These types of dizi are known as bangdi. The music played is fast and rhythmic.
Southern dizi are longer and pitched lower. These are known as qudi. The music played is often slower and more lyrical.
The membrane or dimo is a very thin reed shaving that give the dizi its reedy or buzzy tonal qualities. The dimo is stretched and glued over a whole in between the blowing hole and fingering holes. Wrinkles in the dimo produce the buzzing sound. The dimo can be manipulated to change the tonal qualities of the instrument – such as providing more/less buzzing or increasing/decreasing the brightness of the dizi.
Traditionally, Chinese flutes were played vertically. Although transverse flutes existed in China, they weren’t widely played until the introduction of the dizi in the Han dynasty.
Xiao are typically constructed out of bamboo. The blowing end of the xiao contains a notch used to help with playing. The instrument also contains five finger holes and a thumb hole.
Occasionally, compositions do call for a dizi without the membrane. Sometimes there is in the wind section a bawu, or a flute-like pipe with a free reed in the mouth piece.