How to Play Hulusi

Hulusi is played vertically and has three pipes which connect with the gourd wind chest. It has a very pure, clarinet-like sound.

 

Material

 

The traditional materials for making Hulusi are bamboo and gourd. Bamboo is used for the pipes and gourd is used for the wind chest. Nowadays many new materials are used to replace bamboo and gourd. The new materials often used are sandalwood, ebony and cloisonné to make Hulusi look prettier, more luxurious and more professional look. The reeds are made of brass. A plastic sheath is inserted in which protects the two pipes and keeps them sturdy.

 

Main Pipe

 

Single pipe Hulusi are rare. Two or three pipes are the most common. Most Hulusi have a main pipe, which has seven holes, 6 in the front and 1 thumbhole in the back. In 1958, a fourteen-note version was invented, and in the 1970’s a version with two melody pipes, tuned a fourth apart, was invented. Take the following Hulusi for example, the player can either play the key of G or D, depending on which mouthpiece and main pipe is controlling. Musical Instruments

 

Drone Pipes

 

Musical Instruments
Hulusi has a main pipe and two drone pipes, which can play chord. One drone pipe produces high pitch and once produces low pitch. But it is not uncommon for a Hulusi to have only one drone pipe sound while the other drone pipe is merely ornamental and has no sound.

For the above Hulusi , the one on the left have two pipes both playing chord while the one on the right only has one drone pipe sound.

 

How the drone pipes play chords?

 

Traditionally, there are two foam lids at the end of drone pipes, which can be plugged or unplugged to open or close the drones when playing. When the lids are open, the high pitch drone produces a “mi” tone along with the “so” tone of the main pipe when having all finger holes closed, and the low pitch drone produces a “la” tone as resonance. However, the foam lids are not convenient to control as you need to move your hand away from the main pipe when playing, which might disturb the playing.

Drone pipes with foam lids
Musical Instruments

In recent years, there is new technique to replace the foam lids on the drones as to make the drones easy and convenient to control when playing. The drone switches are for great delivery of sound and are quick on and off.

drone pipes with switches
Musical Instruments

The new technique allows you to switch on and off the drones easily at any time without affecting the playing.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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9 thoughts on “How to Play Hulusi

  1. Hi, may I know which model you bought? Is it bought from us? I wonder if it is the reed problem. You can pull out the main pipe and you’ll see the reed in triangle shape and use your finger nail to push down the reed slightly and let it bounce back to adjust the reed. You then put the main pipe back and try. If it don’t work, let me know.

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    1. It may be the reed problem. You can pull out the pipes and use your finger to slight push down the triangle part of the reed and let it bounce back. You can try this a couple times and see if this works.

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  2. My Hulusi came with Styrofoam material in the main tube. The middle is hollow but both ends are plugged. Is this supposed to be this way? Only 2 notes are playing.
    Is there a way to safely remove the material?

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