Hakka Affairs Council

Music & Drama


bamboo flute

  • Post Date:2006-01-12
bamboo flute

In the Hakka language this is called the Xiao flute. Other names for it are the Pinzi, the horizontal-blown, or the horizontal flute. It is said that it was brought to Chang’an, the capital city, after Zhang Qian was dispatched as an envoy to the western regions by Emperor Wu of Han. (It is also said it was introduced from Mongolia in the Han Dynasty.)

The flute has a long history in China. It is very widespread and there are many different types, the most common of which are Qudi and Bangdi. The Qudi is also called Bandi. Its body is thick and long, and the sound is broad and soft, usually in the key of D. It is popular in the south of China, and is the main accompaniment to Kun opera. The Bangdi, on the other hand, is thin and short. The sound is pure and bright, resonant and sharp, usually in the key of C. Broadly speaking, it is popular in the north, and it forms the main accompaniment to Bangzi opera. The tone is bright and clear, and very penetrating. When playing with the finger fully pressing Sol, in the highest register, the tone is sharp and intense. But it’s not easy to play softly. In the lower register, it is muffled and not easy to play forcefully. The registers in which the flute performs the best are the medium and high pitches. The tone is bright and clear, sweet with a wide variation in volume. It can play extended folk song melodies at a high volume, but also produce the expansive mood of the broad plains. It can perform both cheerful, showy dance tunes and reflective, graceful melodies. It can produce an enthusiastic, merry atmosphere, but it is better at tunes that are elegant and even sentimental.

The flute forms the accompaniment for Hakka Eight-Tone. In wind instrument music, the flute is most important, and it always takes the lead. It can perform solo, or in duets or ensembles.