The Dizi, a Chinese bamboo flute

The Dizi is a traditional Chinese musical instrument that was popular during the Warring States period (472-221 BC) and was used in opera during the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties.

There are two opinions about where the Dizi came from. Official Imperial documents say that a messenger for Han Emperor Wudi brought one with him from western China in 199 BC.

Chen Yue – “Touching Dizi”

However, older bone and bamboo flutes have been found in ancient tombs. One was found in an Eastern Han tomb (206BC – 9 AD).  Several bone flutes were found in Zhejiang province and more than thirty flutes have been found that were nine thousand years old.  The number of holes varies.

Discover more about Chinese music. See the Gu Zheng


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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11 Responses to The Dizi, a Chinese bamboo flute

  1. Reginald says:

    Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for your site. You have some really good posts and I think I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d really like to write
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    • Reginald,

      If you are applying to write guest posts about China for this Blog, then I suggest you write a proper query that shows what you have to offer. Treat it the same as you would treat going after a job for a traditional newspaper or magazine.

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      Be aware that I do not pay for guest posts. Instead, if you are looking for exposure to your work and your voice, if the piece is acceptable for iLook China, that is what this site offers—exposure to readers interested in China.

  2. Mak Ching Yuen says:

    Thanks! I don’t have a piano with me now but it would be interesting to see where your daughter learn all that herself! I am feeling happy for you to have such a keen daughter!

    Yes, same as my dizi, I don’t like reading music too, but somehow I learned it before because I have to play a few pieces myself and those I cannot just “make up” in my mind with listneing to it, Chinese Dizi pleces have too much “flowery fingers” and you cannot make it up by just listening to it, it makes you so confused.

    Do you do music yourself? and did you guide your daughter through it?

    • Mak Ching Yuen,

      I asked her. Now, I’ll have to wait for a reply. She’s at university–not at home.

    • Mak Ching Yuen,

      She replied faster than I expected and the answer may surprise you as much as I was surprised as you will discover.

      She wrote in her e-mail, “Do you have a particular song in mind? I usually just type in the name of the song I want to learn and “piano tutorial” right after…ie “fur elise piano tutorial” into the search bar for Youtube and you will see videos pop up. I choose the videos with the clearest view of the keyboard and learn by pausing/replaying the video as much as I need to learn the song. But, here is one of the videos I learned from:”

      • Mak Ching Yuen says:

        Wow… I never seen video like this before! Open my eyes! I don’t know but if she know Chinese, there is a fast song in Dizi call 小放牛 which is very classic face song, that is a song that I never got it right.. haha!

      • Mak Ching Yuen,

        She speaks fluent Mandarin without an accent.

  3. Mak Ching Yuen says:

    Great article! I also play the dizi, here is a link to a video of mine.

    I ain’t learning it from any teachers, I just started it myself since grade 7 and played it on and off. Now I am 27 already, what a long time..!

    • Thank you. I watched the embedded video you added to your comment. I admire individuals that have the will to teach themselves. In fact, our daughter is teaching herself to play piano (about three years or more now) without a teacher as you did. I wonder if she will still be playing piano when she is 27.

      Lloyd Lofthouse

      • Mak Ching Yuen says:

        Ha~ playing piano without learning from a teacher is just AMAZING!!! I can’t even imagine how the piano works, haha! I have taken piano lessons when I am 3-4 and I just sat there like a stone… Your daughter is a genius!

      • She found a Website or Blog that shows the hand and finger positions for piano songs and this site guides her through playing each song she learns. She doesn’t know how to read music so it is all from memory.

        I’d have to ask her for the Internet address of this site she uses if you are intersted to see how they do it. I believe, she has her laptop nearby so she can she check each hand position and which keys the fingers touch then she works on each song until she gets it right before moving on to the next song.

        She says she is not interested in learning how to read music but only wants to learn the songs she loves then remember them.

        This way of learning songs isn’t new for her.

        Since we didn’t allow her to watch much TV, she resorted to music and learned to sing many of the songs she enjoys.

        Since a young age, she has memorized many of the songs form musicals such as Phantom of the Opera and Chicago or a Tale of Two Cities, and sings the songs from each musical she likes the best.

        So she won’t forget, she practices all the songs she knows in a meddly before starting work on a new one.

        If the songs she is learning to play on the paino have lyrics, she learns that too and sings along.

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