Is your dizi out of tune? As with most instruments, the dizi needs to be tuned depending on the environmental temperature, humidity as well as the condition of the instrument.
One of the easiest ways to tune a dizi is by adjusting its copper joint. By doing so, you can make minute adjustments to the fundamental pitch of the dizi.
If the dizi, on a whole, is too flat, the joint should be collapsed until the required pitch is met. Conversely, if the dizi is too sharp, the joint should be extended until the required pitch is met.
However, there are jointless dizi! So how do we tune these dizi? What can we do if just one or two notes are out of tune? One cannot simply rely on the copper joint in these cases (as it changes the pitch of all notes simultaneously). Fortunately, there are other ways to tune a dizi as well.
Another way of tuning your dizi, albeit permanently, is by boring its finger holes. This can be done using a drill to create new holes, and/or with sandpaper on pre-existing holes.
Experts commonly use a special knife to adjust hole size and to open new holes. The exact location and size for these holes are dependent on the length, diameter and the desired key of the flute – do seek advice from an expert before doing so! This way, the tuning for specific notes can be adjusted. It is a finer tuning than using the copper joint, but as mentioned, it is permanent, so do watch out!
Yet another way of tuning a dizi during the process of playing itself is by turning the dizi inwards or outwards so that the angle of attack between the air from the mouth and the hole on the dizi changes. This will change the pitch of the sound produced. Turning the dizi inwards will produce a lower pitch sound (flatter note) and turning the dizi outwards will produce a higher pitch sound (sharper note).
Skillful players can exploit this mechanism to alter the pitching of individual notes during performance. Is your note too flat? Turn the dizi outwards slightly when you play that particular note! However, it is easier said than done, and takes practice to master. However, once one has grasped this concept, one will never need to worry about tuning again!
Finally, we will end off with the most unorthodox way of tuning – adjusting one’s air flow! Yes, the amount and intensity of air that one puts into blowing the dizi will produce different pitches! Generally, using more air with a stronger air flow will result in a higher (sharper) note, while using less air with a weaker air flow produces a lower (flatter) note.
QUICK TIP! It is for this reason that students tend to get flatter as they reach the end of a phrase, as they run out of breath and their air flow becomes weak, resulting in a lower pitch. So, how do we solve this problem? One masterful solution is by supporting one’s air flow by voluntarily contracting one’s diaphragm and “locking” it in position, preventing its collapse when there is less air in one’s lungs. This maintains a regular, strong air flow when breathing out, preventing one from playing a flat note. However, when all is said and done, this is one of the hardest techniques to master.
So, how do we solve the problem then? As mentioned previously, one can adjust the pitch of the dizi by turning it inwards or outwards. By turning it outwards slowly as one approaches the end of the phrase, one can maintain constancy of pitch. It is an easy fix to a hard problem! This technique for tuning is commonly utilized to achieve a perfect “fade out” where one must maintain the pitch of the note despite using less air to produce a softer sound.
So there you have it! All the ways to tune a dizi! I hope this was helpful!
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