The hulusi or cucurbit flute is a free reed wind instrument from China. It is held vertically and has three bamboo pipes which pass through a gourd wind chest; the center pipe has finger holes and the outer two are typically drone pipes. It is not uncommon for a hulusi to have only one drone pipe while the second outer pipe is merely ornamental. The drone pipe has a finger hole, which allows it to be stopped. Advanced configurations have keyed finger holes similar to a clarinet or oboe, which can greatly extend the range of the hulusi to several octaves.
The hulusi was originally used primarily in the Yunnan province by the Dai-along with other southern Chinese ethnic groups who called it “bilangdao”. It has since gained nationwide popularity, similar to the harmonica in the West. “Improved” versions have been produced outside of the indigenous realms. Like the related free reed pipe called bawu, the hulusi has a very pure, clarinet-like sound.
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