30 March, 2017

Bamboo flutes

For many years, I had only one flute bought from a book shop in Miri in the early 60's. This was the flute which I played in the boarding house at Tanjong in 1963/64. It is of key D. It has travelled with me all over the world to Australia in 1966, back to Brunei in 1972, Miri in the 70's, 80's and 90's. Then to NZ in 1995. Sometimes I still play this old flute at home in Hamilton.

key D

All I needed was just this one flute for many years. Then I discovered that there are also flutes made in keys C, E, F and G. After I retired, I gradually bought more flutes and tried them all. Through the years, I have collected quite a few bamboo flutes. My favourite key is C because it is not so loud and much softer in tone and more suitable for playing old Chinese pop songs. The D key is a bit louder and good for playing Scotland the Brave on the golf course whenever the group in front is walking too slowly. I always kept a D in my golf bag!

This is my favourite flute which I bought in Shanghai 5 years ago. I play this one very often now in Hamilton: at the lake, by the river and at the Hamilton Gardens. I seldom play flute at home any more because some of my neighbours don't like it and complained to noise control at the council.

my favourite
The most expensive flute I have is this one bought in Shanghai for RMB300. Because of its price, I seldom carry it around with me.

It has a very good tone, key C and has a double seal on the brass connectors. A few of my bamboo flutes cannot be played any more because of heat damage and cracks due to careless storage in golf bags, in boats and in the car. The NZ sun is extremely strong. A car in the hot sun can reach temperatures well above 40*C. Even a slight crack in the bamboo will create a small leak and render a flute useless for playing any more.
C,D, F, G, mesc.

All over the world, natives in Peru, Sri Lanka, China, Japan and India; all play a home made bamboo flute with 6 holes. Just wondering how they know to make all the holes at unequal distances apart, so that the flute is in tune and not off key. On the extreme right, mesc are 6 flutes from Peru, Sri Lanka etc. Usually there are 6 holes; you blow on a 7th hole. The Chinese thought that they are smarter than the rest of the world. They made an extra hole which is covered with a membrane (dimo). This type of flutes are called Di Zi. It has a melancholy sound due to the membrane.
Normally, I keep all my flutes in jars inside the computer room. 

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