Wudu -- Chinese Clay Whistle

In ancient China, Chu Kingdom (now in Hubei and Hunan provinces) was a state famous for its musical instruments. According to the materials from which they were made, Chinese ancient musical instruments were put into eight different categories-- metal, rock, clay, leather, silk, wood, gourd and bamboo. They were called the eight musical sounds. Wudu belongs to the category of clay, and it was developed from the clay whistle, the earliest musical instrument in China.

 

The History of Wudu

In 476 BC, the Spring and Autumn Period in Chinese history, there was a piece of poetry called "Xiao Ya Good Fish in the South" which was collected in the Book of Songs, the collection of earliest Chinese poetries. The story was that the emperor made an inspection to the South by sea, a river fish jumped out of the water, so he had it cooked, and after eating the fish, he praised it as "good fish". So that place was called Jia Yu County (meaning "good fish"). And the "clay whistle" that was handed down from ancient times here is also in the shape of fish. It is said that its shape is from folk totem, with the meaning of thanksgiving. According to "the annals of Jia Yu County", it can be found that the clay wudu, called "Wudu" in ancient times, was invented by shepherd boys of Pai Zhou (in Wu Kingdom) at the Three Kingdoms Period. It was improved in the following times and became popular in the middle and lower reaches of Changjiang River.

 

Mr. Bi Yin-sheng's contribution to Wudu

In 1985, Mr. Bi Yin-sheng started to unearth Wudu and did research on it. He widened its music range to the interval of 11 notes, with vigorous tone colors and mellow sounds. Mr. Huang Xiong Peng, who is from the Central Folk Music Institute, at the nationwide and examining board of culture, science and technology, pointed out that "Yu (also an ancient musical instrument) is without whistle, while Wudu has, it should keep its feature". Henceforth, Wudu was highly praised at the Third Chinese Art Festival. Mr. Bi had performed Wudu abroad many times with the groups of the state, enjoy high reputation in and outside China.

 

Wudu's Status

Wudu, "the primitive sound from mankind", besides performing movie and TV music, is also popular with the cultural relic lovers, historical relic collector tourists, and became one of the most typical ancient musical instrument and art collection. It becomes one of the local features of Hubei province.