Picking up a Dizi.
October 12, 2014 5:42 PM   Subscribe

I would like to learn to play a dizi, but I have no clue how to buy one or where to start. I'm in Seattle and can buy one locally or online, with a target budget of $50-$100. I'd like one that is easy to play (for someone with small hands and no wind instrument experience) and where the sound is nice by itself. Any suggestions?

Ideally, you'd link me to a page with the flute for me to buy. (It doesn't have to be super, duper fancy since I'm willing to spend more later on a nicer one later on, if I really enjoy it. But it should sound nice.)

I'd also need to know what accessories I need. Carry case? Membrane? Special cleaning tools?

I have played the piano for many years as a child, so I know something about music. But a dizi looks completely different. So, if you have resources to recommend for instructional videos, instructors, sheet music, etc, that would be great too!
posted by ethidda to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hi dizi player here. I can't really speak as to where online you can buy one, but I imagine Ebay would have some. I brought mine back from China and have had my family pick up some for me on their trips to HK.

As to accessories, I've gotten cheap ones with a little stocking-like sleeve and more expensive ones that came in a cardboard box, so you can use those as cases of sorts. Membranes: definitely get the dimo along with the dizi itself, because that can be very hard to find stateside and would be a bother to look for just to get one little thing. (They say garlic skin works too. I've been meaning to try but have never tried it yet.) One little packet lasts a very long time so long as you're careful.

Along with the dimo you need to get a particular kind of glue / gum for it to stick to the bamboo. The people selling you the dizi should know what I'm talking about and most likely will suggest you buy it (and the membrane as well). This is another must-have because you need an adhesive sticky and light but that also washes easily away.

Cleaning supplies? I own 5 dizi now and have never needed more than a wet tissue. The most that happens is you get spit on them, which obviously you can just wipe away; I have dizi that can be taken apart with metal joints and I've had to wipe dust (maybe rust?) off with said wet tissue. Otherwise they keep really well and don't need much management at all.

If you find a dizi you might purchase, send me a link and I'll see if I can give you an opinion. I'm no connaisseur (sp?) by any means but maybe I can help. Price ranges for my dizi go from RMB 30 (less than $5) for a cheap one with a rather nice sound to HKD 799 (over $100 but very nicely crafted, metal joints, and good sound to boot).
posted by ditto75 at 9:40 AM on October 13, 2014

The first place that came to mind for me was lark in the morning in san francisco. They carry a wide selection of instruments from different countries, including dizis.
posted by ianhattwick at 10:07 AM on October 13, 2014

FWIW I bought a bamboo flute from lark in the morning and taught myself how to play it. I think I might have just figured out the fingerings myself, or taken a look at some fingering charts online. The hardest thing is getting the breath control right but that just takes practice and a willingness for it to sound awful for a while.
posted by ianhattwick at 10:09 AM on October 13, 2014

Response by poster: ianhattwick: Thanks for the link!

ditto75: The only alternative I've found is from Eason Music Store. But I'm not sure if they are writing about a Chinese key D or a western key D.

Also, bonus question: If I want to play a dizi duet, should we both get the same key or different keys?
posted by ethidda at 1:14 PM on October 13, 2014

By grade D they mean it's tuned to a D major scale, ie if all the finger holes are covered and the flute is played the sound produced is a D (the one right above middle C...so D4?). I don't understand what you mean by "Chinese key D or a western key D"...you can play both pentatonic and diatonic scales on dizi.

Accessories 1 pack of dimo, 1 piece of Er Jiao, 1 velvet case -- exactly what I was talking about, "er jiao" referring to the glue / sticky stuff I was talking about and the "velvet case" likely the same as the stocking thing I have for my dizi.
posted by ditto75 at 5:05 PM on October 13, 2014

Oh just read your comment about small hands -- if your fingers are really very small, you might want to consider buying a F, G or A dizi because they have higher pitch ranges and hence are smaller flutes therefore having smaller finger holes but their sound naturally would be higher and shriller. However I have somewhat skinny fingers thanks to my small bone frame and years of piano and I can cover D finger holes fine. OK I better stop commenting now
posted by ditto75 at 5:20 PM on October 13, 2014

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