In this broadcast, we discuss about the Chinese traditional wind instrument – Hulusi (葫芦丝).
We talked a little about the instrument before introducing the different Hulusis that we have. We then ended off with a short performance on the Hulusi.
What is a 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), in particular the Tai (傣族) in the Yunnan province.
From researching its origin, there isn’t much documentation to be source. However we could actually trace it to some of the mythology stories told in the different areas in China.
Hu Lu (葫芦) suggests the type of material that the instrument is being made of – the gourd. Si (丝) translates to silk, referring to the silky smooth tone of the instrument.
Other than the main pipe in the centre, 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 of the drones will be sounding an E note and the other an A note.
The common key pitches of a Hulusi is C, Bb followed by the less common F, G and D.
The first Hulusi that we talked about is a 2 tone Hulusi that is made from plastic, 胶木 [jiāomù].
Being 2 tone means only one of the side drone pipe can sound. It does not come with a stopper for the drone pipe though. Hence, we can either use tape or our fourth finger to manually cover the drone pipe hole to prevent it from sounding
The Hulusi sounds penetrative and bright. The high notes are sensitive as well, making it easy to change notes.
The 2nd Hulusi we introduced is a professional 3 tone Hulusi.
The gourd and the pipes comes with some intricate carving design that depicts the ethnic minority. The side drones come with 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 two stopper for the drone pipes.
This Hulusi has a sweet tone but strong tone, sounding like something in between the previous two Hulusis we talked about. It is heavier as well.
The price of this Hulusi is S$150. Click here for more information.
The last 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 that we learn in school.
Though the 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 minority people in southeast China.
The live session end off with two performances. The first one is a Hulusi classic called ‘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.