The Hulusi is a free-reed pipe instrument from Yunnan, China, originally played by the Dai minority. The Hulusi is similar to the Chinese Bawu, Thai Pi Joom, and many other instruments found throughout Asia. The Hulusi is usually found in three varieties according to size and range. The Hulusi sampled for this project is in Bb, a medium sized Hulusi.
The Hulusi is capable of a large variety of tones depending on the volume of playing. It is commonly played as a solo instrument. The Dai men would play the Hulusi to express their love to women, though after being popularized among other peoples, it assumed a more general role among other Chinese musical instruments.
While it was a difficult process to simplify all the possible articulations, we’ve included the main techniques necessarily to realistically recreate Hulusi performance. For example, we sampled it with and without vibrato in three velocity layers. We also sampled many nuances of the Hulusi, such as how low air flow in the Hulusi causes a much lower pitch to sound. This affects the both the sound of releases as well as soft attacks in notes. We also recorded breath noises and many other subtleties that add realism to the sample library.
We sampled the Hulusi using a pair of microphones: a rare 50’s Shure Uni-Ron ribbon mic and a Neumann KM184 small diaphragm condenser mic. The ribbon mic captured the warmth and fullness of the Hulusi’s tone, while the small diaphragm condenser recorded the crispness of the high frequencies. The mics were carefully positioned to maintain correct phase. By using this combination of mics, we were able to capture the beautiful tone of this instrument.