Parts of a dizi

The dizi is a type of simple flute, i.e. it uses an ``open pipe'' type resonance and features tone holes covered by fingers without the use of additional levers and mechanisms. The most important parts of the dizi are noted in the diagram below (not to scale).

6-hole dizi Schematic
Schematic of a 6-hole dizi, not to scale.

We will describe the features from left to right.

Stopper/Cork (笛塞 or disai) (labelled S)
Occurs inside of the dizi body and acts as one extreme governing the fundamental tone (筒音 or tongyin). The tongyin is the lowest [tuned] pitch of a dizi.
Embouchure hole (吹孔 or chuikong) (labelled E)
Hole where one blows across of.
Membrane hole (膜孔 or mokong) (labelled M)
A unique dizi construct for attaching the membrane of the common reed as the 笛膜 or dimo.
Tone holes (指孔 or zhikong)
These comprise holes numbered from 1--6.
Tone holes of the left hand (labelled 6--4)
Since we are in orthodox stance, these holes are covered by the left hand, with index in 6, middle on 5, and ring on 4.
Tone holes of the right hand (labelled 3--1)
Since we are in orthodox stance, these holes are covered by the right hand, with index in 3, middle on 2, and ring on 1.
Fundamental tone vent holes (基音孔 or jiyinkong) (labelled Z)
Occurs behind the dizi body and acts as the other extreme governing the fundamental tone or tongyin.
High-pitch vent holes (高音发孔 or gaoyinfakong) (labelled V)
Plays a role in proper intonation for high frequencies/tones played on the dizi.

One last optional feature not in the diagram is the tenon joint (接铜 or jietong). The tenon joint exists to allow fine-tuning of the pitch of the dizi, a necessity if playing with other instruments in an orchestra/band. The location of the tenon can be between the embouchure hole (chuikong) and the membrane hole (mokong), or between the membrane hole and the L6 tone hole.

Orthodox Stance

I glossed over the issue of orthodoxy in the diagram by just presenting it as is, but now's a good time to explain why the dizi is presented in this form.

Unlike the concert flute, there is no inherent handedness for a regular 6-hole dizi, so it is possible to play it ``right-handed'' (like a concert flute, or what I call orthodox), or ``left-handed'' by flipping everything the other way.

I strongly discourage playing in any way other than than the orthodox stance, even if one is left-dominant.

Here are a few reasons why:

  1. As one explores the lower ranges of dizi, the instrument itself starts getting larger, and the tone holes get placed wider apart. Much of these are also offset from true for ergonomics purposes, and they are often made with the orthodox stance in mind. Customising these for the left-handed stance is likely to be expensive and error-prone.
  2. If one expands interest into other woodwind instruments, the orthodox stance is often the only way to hold them (see concert flute, saxophone, clarinet, oboe and friends). Playing the dizi in orthodox stance makes the transition easy.
  3. Woodwind instruments rely heavily on manipulating the tone holes closest to the embouchure hole, which in the orthodox stance means it is reliant on left hand dexterity. So if one were left-handed, playing in orthodox stance can actually be an advantage.

If one insists on playing ``southpaw'', then one will have to mentally swap out the handedness for the other articles here.