Flute: Three Chinese Pieces

The bamboo flute is one of the three key Chinese traditional musical instruments (the others are the erhu, a Chinese version of the Western violin and the pipa, sometimes called the Chinese lute).

Also known as the xiao the bamboo flute became popular as early as the Warring States Period (475-221BC) although its history dates to pre-dynastic China as early as 7,000 years ago.

The modern xiao is about 27 to 30 inches (70 to 80 cm) long, with five finger holes in the front and one thumb hole in the back. Additional holes near the lower end are used for tuning, venting, and attaching decorative tassels.

With its high pitch tone and ability to produce mellow and long-drawn notes, the bamboo flute has long been the instrument of choice for expressing wistful and melancholic moods, as you will experience in the three pieces of modern Chinese music posted below. All are songs of love and longing, and all have become modern classics. The titles of the three pieces are respectively, Song of the Four Seas, A Spray of Plum Blossom, and Trail of the Angels. Enjoy.

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