Chromaticity and the dizi

In this set of articles, we examine how the dizi can be coaxed to play chromatically, starting from the traditional method of fingering patterns for diatonic scales before working our way to full 12-tone chromaticity.

But first, a word on notation.

Why Fingering Patterns

The dizi comes in many base keys, as we noted before. Thus, learning the fingering for a specific scale is not exactly a meaningful way to proceed, particularly when much of the dizi repertoire are written in cipher notation (简谱 or jianpu). This assumption will be revisited in a later article when we start talking about staff notations and the dizi.

Pieces are often written in concert pitch. This is seen in the form of a line that says either 1=G or (rarely for minor scales) 6̣=E.

Since there are so many different base keys of dizi, a specific concert pitch can have many possible ways of playing it by picking either a base key of a dizi and choosing the right fingering pattern, or choosing a fingering pattern and then finding the correct base key of a dizi.

Fingering patterns of a dizi link each number on an unspecified scale to a series of open, half-open and covered hole patterns. These fingering patterns are described by the number matched by the all-covered pattern, or the 筒音 (tongyin).

Usually the composer will make the decision for the dizi player and will annotate it with a line that looks like any of the following:

where x is the base key of the dizi and y is the numbered pitch to match.

So an example could be G 笛子筒音作 if it is relatively unambiguous, or G 梆笛筒音作 if the bangdi is looked for.

What is the Fingering for Number x?

As noted before, this is a meaningless question without specifying what key the note x is, and what base key dizi one is playing on. So, do not have this erroneous thought process while looking through the different representations of roughly the same information (i.e. fingering patterns) under this section of articles.