In this broadcast, we discussed about the Chinese traditional wind instrument – Hulusi (葫芦丝, húlú sī).
We talked a little about the instrument before introducing the different type of Hulusis that we have. We then ended off with a short performance on the Hulusi.
The Hulusi is known for its unique looks and very distinct ethnic sounding tone. It is vastly used by the ethnic-minority (少数民族, shǎoshù mínzú), in particular the Tai (傣族, dǎizú) in the Yunnan province.
From researching its origin, there isn’t much documentation to be sourced. However, we could trace it to some of the mythology stories told in the different areas in China.
Hu Lu (葫芦, húlú) suggests the type of material that the instrument is being made of – the gourd. Si (丝, sī) translates to silk, referring to the silky smooth tone of the instrument.
Other than the main pipe in the center, there are two additional drone pipes on either side. The drone pipes usually have a stopper at its end or on its side which is closed to prevent it from sounding.
The 2 drone tones are usually a major 3rd and major 6th from the key of the instrument. So if the Hulusi is in a key of C, one drone will sound an E note and the other an A note.
The common key pitches of a Hulusi are C, Bb, and followed by less common pitches, F, G and D.
The first Hulusi that we have talked about is a 2 tone Hulusi that is made from plastic, 胶木 [jiāomù].
Being 2 toned means only one of the side drone pipe can sound. It does not come with a stopper for the drone pipe though. Hence, we use either tape or our fourth finger to manually cover the drone pipe hole to prevent it from sounding
This Hulusi sounds penetrative and bright. The high notes are sensitive as well, making it easy to change notes.
The next Hulusi introduced is a professional 3 tone Hulusi.
The gourd and the pipes come with intricate carving designs that depict the ethnic minority. The side drones also have 2 stoppers for the easy access to the tones.
The price of this Hulusi is S$95. Click here for more information.
The 3rd Hulusi we talked about is a 3 tone Hulusi made from Rosewood.
Rosewood has always been a top material for many Chinese Orchestra instruments and hence this model.
Similar to the professional Hulusi, this too comes with a stopper for the each drone pipe.
This Hulusi produces a sweet and strong tone, sounding like something in between the previous two Hulusis mentioned previously. It is also heavier than the two.
The price of this Hulusi is S$150. Click here for more information.
The final Hulusi we introduced is the Black Sandalwood Hulusi.
The construct is very similar to the Rosewood Hulusi.
This Hulusi has a clear and smooth tone with very good resonance.
The price of this Hulusi is S$180. Click here for more information.
Hulusi is one of the easiest Chinese wind instruments to pick up, with the playing techniques similar to that of the recorder learnt in Singaporean schools.
Though this instrument is rarely seen in Chinese Orchestra pieces, it can be a good solo or concerto instrument, especially when playing tunes related to folk music of the minority people in Southeast China.
The live session ended off with two performances. The first piece is a Hulusi classic, titled ‘Phoenix tail bamboo under the moon’ ,《月光下的凤尾竹》 performed by our instructor, Kok Wee.
It is then followed by an “acapella” group performance by Anson, Kok Wee and Sung Wah playing another classic folk tune – Spring Wing 《望春风》.
Find out more of our different varieties of Hulusi at our web store today!
We have trimmed the session and posted it on YouTube. Watch below if you have missed our Live! #5.