Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nightclub 1960 - Dizi

While most of our blog series about Piazzolla on unusual instruments have featured Libertango, today the series expands to include Nightclub 1960 from the Histoire du tango suite originally composed for flute and guitar. The instrument is unusual in the western world but is quite common in the Chinese world. It is a bamboo flute, the dizi (pronounced Dee Zzzt – like a bumble bee sound). The musicians in the video are Diao Peng (dizi) and Xu Weiting (piano) and I would guess that they are students. Their YouTube channel suggests they are from Taiwan. Both are fine musicians. For a simple instrument, the dizi is played here not only with precision and agility but also with a remarkable level of expression. Note the well done "slides" at 4'30"into the video. A very enjoyable performance.

The dizi has six finger holes and is blown from nearer the middle of the instrument than the western flute. But the most unusual feature is a seventh hole, located between the embouchure and the first finger hole, which is covered with a thin membrane called a dimo). At higher breath pressures, the dimo vibrates adding a buzzy distortion to the tone (anticipating the electric guitar distortion pedal by 2,000 years). Managing the distortion becomes another part of the musicians art in the music. Note that Mr. Diao taps the dimo before he starts playing - I guess to make sure it is working. And it does indeed work. You will hear the unique timbre throughout the piece.

Dizi's come in a dizzying (sorry about that) variety of sizes and keys - you can see them all at Eason Music.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

Note added 28 April, 2011: The original version of this blog incorrectly identified the musicians. I believe it is correct as now shown above.

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