Chinese Arts & Music Association


Di Zi

Chinese Bamboo Flute

Di Zi (pronounced dee-ch) is the chinese version of flute traditionally made of bamboo (occasionally of wood). It is believed to have been brought in from Tibet during the Chinese Han Dynasty and since then it has been used over the past 2,000 years in China. The Chinese character for this flute (Di, Dizi) generally means sideblown or transverse flute. In the West this kind of flute would be classified as an Aerophone. The Di Zi is available at different keys. Many different sizes of the flute are therefore made to facilitate the change of the keys and the playing range of each key spans nearly two octaves plus a fifth. A Di Zi in C-key is relatively longer than a Di Zi in F-key. There is also a piccolo sized Di Zi. A Di Zi usually has 6 finger holes for playing and three other holes including a blow hole. It has a reed-membrane covering a hole between the blow hole and the highest finger hole. This membrane gives the Di Zi a reedy and bright timbre, particularly familiar throughout China. The player plays the flute by blowing across the mouth piece and produces different notes by stopping the six holes found on the rod. The player uses several distinct playing techniques: fluttered tonguing, double tonguing, triple tonguing, combinations of tonguing techniques and fingering techniques. A skilled player will also use circular breathing.The Di Zi is used both in ensemble with other Chinese instruments as well as a solo instrument.