Traditional Southeast Asian Bamboo Flutes Studies on Origins and History Research Proposal

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Traditional Se Asian Bamboo Flutes: Studies on Origins and History

The study investigates the bamboo flutes found in Southeast Asia, as well as their history and origin. The earliest known extant bamboo flute, a chi, or ancient Chinese flute, from the Zhou Dynasty, discovered in the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng, dates from 433 BC. Southeast Asian bamboo flutes, diverse in shape and size, vary in the way musicians play them. During the ethnography, a qualitative study, the researcher utilizes an extensive literature review to explore the development of bamboo flutes in SEA and examines the link between these instruments and music, as well as traditions from and beyond Asia.

As the study focuses on the flutes from three main areas: Mainland SEA, Maritime SEA, and Pacific region of SEA, the researcher examines the origins of three kinds of flutes, the researcher compares traditional flutes from other cultures such as Chinese, Indian, Central Asian, Australian, Hawaiian, Saudi Arabian, Native Indians and African.

The cultural mapping of these flutes serves as guide in following the routes of the flutes from one location to the other. To establish relationships, the researcher compares the musical traditions of bamboo flutes of Southeast Asian countries to each other, as well as how these flutes vary from one country to another vis-a-vis society and ethnomusicology.

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Music-making serves as integral part of human culture and society. Consequently, the study of the history of the Southeast Asian flute and its performance may significantly contribute to learning more about the development of this fascinating musical culture. It may also enhance the understanding of various cultures as it identifies and tracks links between different cultures. In this sense, the Southeast Asian bamboo flute constitutes a valuable index of cultural intermingling throughout time. The researcher notes that society, the context and the historical influences affect the instrumental development of the flute.




Research Proposal on Traditional Southeast Asian Bamboo Flutes Studies on Origins and History Assignment

List of Table and Figures






Design of the Study


Research Problem




Scope and Limitations


Significance of the Study


Research Methodology and Philosophy




Southeast Asia


Kinds of Flutes


The Bamboo Flutes from Southeast Asia Mainland




Musical Elements






Transverse, Side-blown Flutes


Vertically Blown Flutes

Nose Blown Flutes

Bamboo Flute Tradition vis-a-vis


Religion in SEA


Bamboo Flute Tradition vis-a-vis


Hinduism Influences in Bali, Malaysia, Borneo and Kalimanta


Muslim Influences in Southeast Asian Flutes




Socio-economical Background of SEA


Development of Flutes


Transverse Flutes of Proto-Australoids







Figure 1.1: 18,000 BCE, SEA Map


Figure 1.2: Contemporary Map of Southeast Asia


Figure 1.3: 1st Century BC Silver Route: Asia and Europe


Figure 1.4: Hinduism before the Fourth Century in SEA


Figure 2.1: Southeast Asia Facts


Figure 2.2: Rice Paddy Field in the Lowland Philippines


Figure 2.3: Six Modern Types of Flutes


Figure 2.4: Kingflutes


Figure 2.5: Chinese Vertical Flutes


Figure 2.6: Filipino flutes


Figure 2.7: 10 Sao Truc Flutes


Figure 2.8: Ohe Hano Ihu Flute


Figure 3.1: Different Types of Vertical Flutes


Figure 3.2: Xiao Vertical Bamboo Flute


Figure 3.3: Lanoh Nose Flute and Fangufangu


Figure 3.4: Tongali Flute (Philippines Nose Flute


Figure 3.5: Map of Locations with Similar Flutes


Figure 3.6: Papua New Guinean Tribes


Figure 3.7: Indonesians of the Irian Jaya Province


Figure 3.8: Rukai tribe of Taiwan


Figure 3.9: Buffalo Flute with Buffalo-Horn Cone


Figure 3.10: Magindanaon Ring Flute Player


Figure 3.11: Old Yemeni Flautist


Figure 4.1: "Walking Stick Flute" Played by Mouth


Figure 4.2: "Walking Stick Flute" Played by Nose


Figure 4.3: Kmhum Higlanders With Transverse Nose Flutes


Table 1.1: Basic Human Needs and Cultural Responses




"When an instrument is introduced to a different geographic area, the new instrument that develops there generally retains some connection to its predecessor: A similar name or function, a shared physical characteristic, or an association with a particular social class"

("Wind Instrument," Dissemination Section, ¶ 1).

Bamboo in Music

Jin, who began playing a bamboo instrument during the second grade, grew up with bamboos growing all around him. In the Web publication, "Kingflute," Jin reports that when a child, his family lived in a bamboo house. He played with toys built of bamboo. He reports: "My mom used to cook 'Labong; (bamboo shoots) for food which is particularly popular during rainy seasons in our province" (Bambooman, the Author and his passion… Section, ¶ 1). Today, Jin sleeps on a bamboo bed and owns a garden set constructed of bamboo.

The bamboo orchestra, "Pangkat Kawayan," the music center across Jin's street, mesmerized him, he said, when he, in the second grade, moved with his family to the city. "I remember listening to this bamboo orchestra practice every other afternoon," Jin recounts, "and watch my sister Cora play "Bumbong" (bamboo horns). & #8230;the conductor, Mr. Toledo, gave me the chance to play bamboo bass" (Bambooman, the Author and his passion… Section, ¶ 3). At that moment, Jin began his quest to become a bamboo musician. He performed for individuals who served as head of states and prominent people in America, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and numerous other countries in a number of performing arts centers; continuing to play in this bamboo orchestra until he earned his college degree.

Any where Jin sees items made of bamboo, he stops to admire them. He particularly appreciates the musical sounds that evolve from bamboo. "Words can't describe my admiration, love and dedication to bamboo," Jin stresses. During this thesis, with an appreciation for bamboo similar to that Jin displays, the researcher examines traditional Southeast Asian bamboo flutes; simultaneously reflecting on their origins and history.

Some individuals commonly believe that bamboo flute traditions in Southeast Asia either originated in China or that indigenous people invented them. The earliest known extant bamboo flute, a chi, or ancient Chinese flute, from the Zhou Dynasty, discovered in the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng, dates from 433 BC.

The Chinese transverse flute, Chi, a six-holed membrane bamboo flute, however, does not depict the most common type of flute found in Southeast Asia (SEA). Although some similarities exist between SEA flutes and Chinese flutes, this observation may be used to disprove or argue the claim that SEA flutes evolved purely from Chinese descent.

Southeast Asian bamboo flutes, diverse in shape and size, also vary in the way musicians play them. Rather than merely attributing this diversity solely to differences between tribes, one may further explore the development of bamboo flutes in this region through a more detailed examination of the link between these instruments and music, as well as traditions from and beyond Asia.

Some Chinese researchers assert that Chinese flutes may have evolved from of Indian provenance.

In fact, the kind of side-blown, or transverse, flutes musicians play in Southeast Asia have also been discovered in Africa, India, Saudi Arabia, and Central Asia, as well as throughout the Europe of the Roman Empire. This suggests that rather than originating in China or even in India, the transverse flute might have been adopted through the trade route of the Silk Road to Asia. In addition to these transverse flutes, Southeast Asians possessed the kind of long vertical flutes; similar to those found in Central Asia and Middle East.

A considerable amount of similarities exist between the vertical flutes of Southeast Asia and flutes from Muslim countries. This type of flute possibly came from Persians during the ninth century; during the religious migration to SEA. Likewise, the nose-blown flute culture, common to a number of traditional African tribes, may also be found in certain ethnic groups found in Taiwan, the Northern Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The diversity of playing styles noted in the various locations; those being transverse, vertical and nasal, reveals that the various performing behaviors of Southeast Asia may have not experienced a direct lineal descent from China. Instead, the various performing behaviors of Southeast Asia may have been adapted from the musical histories of a number of cultures throughout the centuries.

This thesis specifically contributes to significant research in this century; challenging commonly-held beliefs in the process, as it explores the multiple origins of three different styles of traditional bamboo flutes found in Southeast Asia. The data in this thesis draws on a diverse array of materials relating to flutes from a number of countries and regions, including China, India, Java and Bali of Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Borneo, Turkistan (Central Asia), Middle East, the Philippines, Australia, South Pacific and Oceania, Africa and Europe. Implementing this broad scope allows for a synthesis that enables the researcher and the reader to envision the eclectic cultural background informing the development of these instruments.

1.1. Design of the Study

The study investigates the bamboo flutes found… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Traditional Southeast Asian Bamboo Flutes Studies on Origins and History.  (2010, February 13).  Retrieved April 7, 2020, from

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"Traditional Southeast Asian Bamboo Flutes Studies on Origins and History."  13 February 2010.  Web.  7 April 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Traditional Southeast Asian Bamboo Flutes Studies on Origins and History."  February 13, 2010.  Accessed April 7, 2020.