Bawu Demo: Chinese minority group Gourd Pipe reed flute




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Published on Aug 14, 2008

This bawu is now available.Please visit our site for more interesting Chinese musical instruments.

The bawu is a transverse free reed pipe found among minority groups in south-western China and parts of Southeast Asia. A small brass reed is inserted into the blow hole. The player must cover the reed entirely with their mouth and apply substantial air pressure to maintain the vibration of the reed. In China the bawu has become a popular instrument for films and pop songs due to its melancholy sound. Very exotic instrument.

Long long ago in the mountainous area of Ai-nu, there was a beautiful and kind girl in the Ha-ni ethnic group. Her name was Mei Wu. She was in love with a handsome lad called Ba Cong. They vowed that they would be together as close as a tree branch and a leaf. All the people in their village were amazed about their love and they all wished them happiness forever. Their love story was overheard by the devil in the mountain. He came over the village and took Mei Wu away with strong wind. He forced her to marry him but in vain. Mei Wu never spoke a word in front of him. The devil was infuriated. He cut her tongue and abandoned her in a remote forest. One day a fairy bird brought back the girl's tongue. He asked her to put her tongue inside the bamboo tube. The bird told her that the bamboo would help her speak. With the bamboo Mei Wu produced beautiful voice to express her deep thought of her lover and the compliant against the devil. Her voice reached Ba Cong. He overcame all the obstacles and finally saved his lover. Eventually the Ha-ni people used half of their names combined to form the name of this instrument—bawu.

This African Crane gourd has a long stalk which resembles the neck of a crane, so it is called African crane gourd.

The African gourd has to be treated with a kind of Chinese medicine called "Er Cha" and preserved for 200 days until it turns deep red or dark brown before any hulusi production process takes place.

Because of the rugged interior, African gourd bawu can effectively avoid noise and minimize echoes. So the sound of this kind of bawu is very clean and clear.

It is in the key of F (all closed as C) .It is professionally tuned many times before leaving the workshop,at concert pitch (A=440).The most distinctive feature of this bawu is that the mouth piece and the finger holes are opened on the gourd stalk, leaving a natural and primitive look for this instrument.There are 7 fingerholes, 6 in front and 1 at the back. Tone range: from low "so"(all closed) to "la". Soft blowing when all finger holes closed can achieve low "mi". More than one octave. Played only by exhaling, with the whole mouth covering the mouthpiece like kissing it.


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