The history of the flute

736 views · Organized by chen on 2022-02-28

Dizi is the oldest Han musical instrument discovered so far, and it is also the most representative and most nationally characteristic wind instrument among the Han musical instruments.

The history of the flute

ancient time

Chinese flutes have a long history, dating back to the Neolithic Age. At that time, the ancestors lit the bonfire, set up the prey, sang and danced around the captured prey while eating, and used the tibia of the bird to drill holes to blow it (use its sound to trap the prey and transmit signals), and the oldest unearthed in my country was born. Musical instrument - bone flute.

Bone whistle and bone flute were unearthed in Hemudu, Yuyao, Zhejiang in 1977, dating back about 7,000 years. In May 1986, 16 vertical bone flutes (made from bird limb bones) were excavated at the early Neolithic site in Jiahu Village, Wuyang County, Henan Province.

The sound holes range from five holes to eight holes, most of which are seven-tone hole flutes. Some sound holes are also punched with small holes, which are completely consistent with modern Chinese tones. In 1987, seven holes were unearthed at the Jiahu site in Wuyang County, Henan Province. Jiahu Bone Flute (about 9,000 years ago) is the world's earliest wind instrument.

During the Yellow Emperor period, that is, about 4,000 years ago, a large number of bamboos grew in the Yellow River Basin, and bamboo was used as a material to make flutes. The "Historical Records" records: "The Yellow Emperor ordered Ling Lun to cut bamboo in Kunji, cut it to make a flute, and blow it to make a phoenix. "Ming", the use of bamboo as the material is a major improvement in flute making. One is that bamboo has better vibration than bone, and the pronunciation is crisp; the other is that bamboo is easy to process. During the Qin and Han Dynasties, there were already seven-hole bamboo flutes, and two-headed flutes were invented.

In 1978, two bamboo flutes were unearthed from the tomb of Marquis Yi Zeng in Suixian County, Hubei Province, while the two flutes unearthed from the Han Tomb No. 3 in Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan Province intersected at an angle of about 90 degrees between the plane of the blowing hole and the plane of the sound hole. , which is very similar to the blowing hole of the flute (chi) in the tomb of Zeng Houji. In terms of time, the two are separated by hundreds of years; in terms of space, Changsha, Hunan Province and Suixian County, Hubei Province are hundreds of miles away, and the positions of the blowing holes are almost the same. This shows that the general shape of the horizontal flute or Chi from the pre-Qin period to the early Han Dynasty . During the Warring States Period, the chi was one of the main melody musical instruments played in worshipping gods or banqueting pavilions, and the flute was also very popular. Qu Yuan's student Song Yu's "Flute Fu" also mentioned the southern flute at that time, which is very similar to the modern flute.

Han and Jin Dynasties

In ancient times, the flute was called a "chi". In the Han Dynasty, Xu Shen's "Shuowen Jiezi" recorded: "a flute, seven holes, and a bamboo scorpion".

After the Han Dynasty, the horizontal flute played a very important role in the court and army's advocacy music. This fact reminds people that the development of the Chinese flute has broken away from its early primitive form, and is more reasonable and perfect in terms of rhythm and shape, and is increasingly coordinated and coordinated with other musical instruments in the band. On the portrait bricks of the Southern and Northern Dynasties unearthed in Deng County, Henan Province, we can clearly see the historical images of advocating the coordinated performance of the orchestra. The direction and angle of holding the flute and the left and right hands of the horizontal flute player are exactly the same as those of modern flute playing.

Before the Han Dynasty, the flute was played with many fingers. Since the Qin and Han Dynasties, the flute has become the common name of the vertical flute and the horizontal flute, and has continued for a long time. During the reign of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, the horizontal flute was developed, also known as "horizontal blowing". It occupies a very important position in the advocacy music of the Han Dynasty. The two bamboo flutes unearthed from the Han Tomb No. 3 in Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan Province are both horizontal flute instruments.

In the Jin Dynasty, there was a recorder, blowing the head and adding a piece of wood to make the air pass through the gap and shoot to the edge of the two sentry holes to pronounce.

During the Northern Dynasties, flutes were not only extremely common, but also developed, with great changes in shape, length and thickness. In the Northern Zhou and Sui Dynasties, the name "Hengyu" began to appear. In the late Sui Dynasty, a ten-hole flute that could play the chromatic scale appeared.

Tang and Song Dynasties

In the Sui and Tang dynasties, the "big horizontal flute" and "small horizontal flute" both used horizontal flute. Among the "Yan music" music genres in Sui and Tang Dynasties for people's appreciation and entertainment, the horizontal flute (called Hengliu at that time) was widely active in the band. On the murals of the Sui Dynasty in Dunhuang and the pictures of the Tang musicians, the horizontal flute can also be seen. play. In some other historical pictures we also find piper poses in both directions.

In the Tang Dynasty, there have been records of famous flute players, such as Li Mo, Sun Chuxiu, You Chengen, Yun Zhaoxia and so on. Among them, Li Mo was a student of Qiuci musicians in the Western Regions. Because of his extraordinary flute performance and outstanding skills, he was known as "the best in the world" in flute playing ability during the Kaiyuan period.

Chen Yan's "Book of Music" Volume 148: "The seven-star flute of the Tang Dynasty is also an ancient flute. Its shape is like a chi and long, its number is full of guides and seven orifices, blowing horizontally, and there is a hole next to it with a sticky bamboo membrane, which resonates and helps sound. Liu Shi also did it..." Perhaps since at least the Tang Dynasty, flutes with the characteristics of Chinese membrane flutes appeared. The membrane on the flute is one of the most unique symbols of the Chinese flute.

Since the Tang Dynasty, the flute has the difference between the big horizontal blow and the small horizontal blow. At the same time, the chi that is blown vertically is called the xiao, and the chi that is blown horizontally is called the flute. In the Tang Dynasty, Lu Cai made "shakuhachi", blowing it vertically, and introduced it to Japan; in the Zhengcangyuan in the ancient capital of Nara, there are four horizontal flutes made in the prosperous Tang Dynasty in my country. Among them, there are one toothed flute and one carved stone flute, and two bamboo ones. They are of different lengths, but they all have 7 oval sound holes. Liu Xi made a seven-star pipe flute, and was the first person to add a film to the flute. Beginning in the 7th century, the flute has been improved again, adding membrane holes, making its expressiveness a great development, and the playing technique has also developed to a very high level.

Song flutes are made in various ways, including forked hand flutes, dragon neck flutes, small horizontal flutes with eleven holes, large horizontal flutes with nine holes, and jade flutes with seven holes. Musical instruments are divided into two categories according to the type of accompaniment: bangdi and qudi. The flute is also an indispensable instrument in the bands of folk operas.


In the 1960s, Zhao Songting invented the pan flute. By tying 2 to 4 flutes of different tunes together, the sound range can be expanded by more than three octaves. The music is full of changes and easy to play.

From the newly born "mouth flute" (also known as Yu's flute) in 1971 to the "bone whistle" and "bone flute" unearthed in Hemudu, Zhejiang in 1977, people are surprised to find that there is such a similarity between the two, and this similarity is not After more than 7,000 years, the evolution and development of the flute in these 7,000 years cannot help but amaze the world: the art of Chinese bamboo flute is so magnificent and colorful.

Reference materials and contributors

Involving musical instruments

Dizi (pinyin: dí zi), also known as the horizontal flute, is generally used as an important musical instrument to accompany opera.

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