The Dizi (pronounced tǐt͡sɨ)is a Chinese transverse flute traditionally made from bamboo, but occasionally from other materials including wood and even stone or jade. The modern Dizi is a six hole instrument whose open hole scale is the diatonic major (do, re, mi). In additon to the finger holes, there is a hole between the embouchure (blowing) hole and the finger holes called the mo kong. This hole is covered with a thin membrane made from a tissue-like shaving of reed material from the inside of a bamboo stalk and is called the dimo. The player glues this dimo into place using a natural adhesive, and it is carefully wrinkled in a manner which creates a distinct type of reedy “buzz” when the flute is played. Applying the dimo is an art unto itself, and the effect is quite unique (listen to sound sample below). These flutes have about a two and a quarter octave range, and are equal tempered across the scale, with A=440Hz.
So what makes my versions of the Dizi “optimized”? It is the addition of an internal parabolic taper in the headjoint, based upon that which was designed by Theobald Boehm, creator of the modern silver orchestral flute. The addition of this taper in the headjoint not only increases the power and projection of the flute, but also improves the intonation balance between the octaves. Coupled with the tuning slide, these features make for a professional level concert instrument of great versatility.
For players who wish to utilize it in settings where they do not want the buzzing tone of the dimo, it can be removed and replaced with a simple piece of tape.
In China the Dizi is available in a wide variety of keys, and I intend to add further variations over time. For now, they are available in the key of D (above middle C).
World flutes master Ron Korb demonstrates the dizi playing “Ancient China”, a track from his Grammy nominated Asia Beauty album.
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