Is Bawu Flute Hard to Learn to Play?

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BobbieCB
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Is Bawu Flute Hard to Learn to Play?

Post by BobbieCB »

I was wondering how hard the bawu is to learn to play?

I'm well experienced with fipple flutes (recorder, ocarina, tin whistle, etc).

But I have no experience with the standard transverse concert flute, so I haven't learned the embouchure for transverse edge-blown flutes.

Is the Bawu a little easier than edge-blown transverse due to the reed inside?

Thanks for your advice.
Tonehole
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Re: Is Bawu Flute Hard to Learn to Play?

Post by Tonehole »

It's much easier Bobbie.

There is no need for any embouchure technique in the bawu instrument - which is not a flute despite being flute shaped.
The bawu is a single reed instrument - same style of reeds as harmonicas. Any minimum pressure will activate the reed so even a child can play it. It is a folk instrument and for all folk.

The traverse flute with the edge blowing takes more skill. Children have little blowing aids shaped in a funnel to teach them how to blow it into these. You will find the bawu easy. It has a 1 octave and 1 note range which is very limiting. There are later modifications to extend this to 1 octave and a major third. It's still very limited - the tone is dependent on the reed and does not possess the rich overtones and nuances of the traverse flute.
BobbieCB
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Re: Is Bawu Flute Hard to Learn to Play?

Post by BobbieCB »

Thanks for your reply, @tonehole.

I bought a bawu and am having fun learning it. Just as you said, the embouchure is easy.... no problem.

Thanks again!
Tonehole
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Re: Is Bawu Flute Hard to Learn to Play?

Post by Tonehole »

On to the hulusi gourd reed flute next Bobbie :)
This is the same sound as the bawu with 2 variable drones ..think of it like a mini bagpipe :)
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Geoffrey Ellis
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Re: Is Bawu Flute Hard to Learn to Play?

Post by Geoffrey Ellis »

Okay, I simply have to share the one and only anecdote that I have regarding the bawu.

On the rack in my shop I actually have a bawu that no longer functions because it was in theory "broken" by Peter Gabriel! My friend Ron Korb plays all manner of flutes from around the world, and he had this bawu with him when he was recording an album at Peter Gabriel's Real World studio in England. He said that Peter came into the studio and heard the bawu and wanted to try it out. Ron says Peter actually made a goofy bit of word play by asking "May I bawu your bawu?"

Anyway, Ron let him try it, and he did. He gave it back and eventually left, but Ron said from that moment the bawu never worked properly again. I have it in my shop because Ron brought it over at one point and asked if I thought I could fix it. I have never played a bawu (or any reed instrument) so I was puzzled as to what I could do to fix it. So years later it is still sitting on the rack.

But it makes a great story, and since it was a simple and inexpensive instrument, sacrificing it in exchange for a cool anecdote seems like a fair trade :-)
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Re: Is Bawu Flute Hard to Learn to Play?

Post by Tonehole »

Funny anecdote Geoffrey :)

Is the bawu still 'broken'?

There are 2 plugs inside it: the headjoint cork and also a cork at the footjoint. This controls the sounding length and the sound pressure for the reed to activate, otherwise it needs the valve reed replaced. They are simple instruments with not much to go wrong although the corks often shrink and fall out or the reeds pop.

If you know the pitch length of the bawu, the single reeds can be ordered for replacement. Seems a shame not to get such a wonderful iconic piece of history working again. Peter Gabriel would be proud to know he didn't mess it up after all :)
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Geoffrey Ellis
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Re: Is Bawu Flute Hard to Learn to Play?

Post by Geoffrey Ellis »

Tonehole wrote: Mon Dec 25, 2023 7:51 am Funny anecdote Geoffrey :)

Is the bawu still 'broken'?

There are 2 plugs inside it: the headjoint cork and also a cork at the footjoint. This controls the sounding length and the sound pressure for the reed to activate, otherwise it needs the valve reed replaced. They are simple instruments with not much to go wrong although the corks often shrink and fall out or the reeds pop.

If you know the pitch length of the bawu, the single reeds can be ordered for replacement. Seems a shame not to get such a wonderful iconic piece of history working again. Peter Gabriel would be proud to know he didn't mess it up after all :)
You know, I should take another look at it--I literally haven't handled it in something like six or seven years. I'll let you know what I find--I appreciate the encouragement :-)
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Re: Is Bawu Flute Hard to Learn to Play?

Post by Quarktäsche Deluxe »

Hei, i have a Bawu too.
Got it 15 years ago in Hangzhou in China and its a long time ago i played it.
Should find out how she looks like and if she still works nicely
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