Ryuteki 龍笛 is What?

I’ve noticed that most people I’ve talked with are very familiar with the Japanese shakuhachi or Native American flutes. Like playing recorder, tin whistle, oboe or clarinet, shakuhachi and Native American flutes are held vertically.

Others are familiar with the Indian bansuri or buzzy sounding Chinese dizi, but are not familiar with the Japanese ryuteki. The Dragon Flute is similar to the dizi, bansuri, or western flute since it too is held horizontally. What makes this instrument unique is the enormous embouchure hole and presence of 7 finger holes rather than 6. The hand technique is similar to playing other whistles that require use of the fleshy second part of the finger rather than use the pads of the fingers.

The flute represents dragons ascending between the people of the earth and the lights of the heavens. The hichiriki (double reed) and sho (mouth organ) represent those respective ideas.

Ryuteki requires a huge amount of air and accents of the abs and jaw. The sound aesthetic ranges from burst driven unarticulated attacks and pitch bends to smooth, clear birdlike motifs.