Fue (an instrument producing sound with an air current) (笛)

The term "fue" generally refers to instruments which produce sound with an air current. Its original meaning was 'an instrument which is blown,' and such instruments are currently utilized for a variety of purposes including musical instruments, toys, signals and alarms. The term "fue" often refers specifically to musical instruments which have reed.

This term is said to have derived from fukie (吹柄) or fukue (吹枝), but there are many other theories. The term 'Ten no Toribue' (heaven's flute) is seen in Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan), but details such as its shape are unknown.
Fue was written '輔曳' in Manyo-gana (a form of syllabary used in the Manyoshu [Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves])

In the Nara and Heian periods, the term fue mainly referred to wind instruments for gagaku (ancient Japanese court dance and music), including the ryuteki (literally, dragon flute), sho (笙, a traditional Japanese wind instrument), hichiriki (doubled-reed wind instrument), komabue (a flute imported from ancient Korea) and kagurabue (a six-holed horizontal flute) which are still used today, as well as the shakuhachi (vertical bamboo flute) and sho (簫, Chinese end-blown flute). Sho and hichiriki were later distinguished from fue. In view of the fact that the kagurabue is also called the yamatobue (literally, Japanese flute), fue are believed to have existed in Japan even before ryuteki and komabue were imported from the Asian Continent. In fact, an instrument resembling the yokobue (a flute) was excavated at Hoshizuka-kofun Tumulus No.1 (late of Kofun period [Tumulus period]) in Tenri City, Nara Prefecture. However, its shape is different from flutes produced since the Nara period.

Various fue also appear in Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji), but the word fue usually refers to ryuteki when used alone and others are specifically called 'sakuhachi no fue' (shakuhachi), 'sau no fue' (sho [笙]) or 'komabue.'
In Genji Monogatari, there many situations in which fue appear. Among these, a fue was used as an important item relating to the secret of Kaoru's birth in the scene in which a fue which had belonged to late Kashiwagi was delivered to Kaoru through Yugiri. As shown above, fue were indispensible musical instruments for male court nobles during the Heian period, and Emperor Murakami and Emperor Ichijo are said to have been masters of fue. A fue connected to TAIRA no Atsumori and MINAOTO no Yoshihira has been passed down as the 'Aoba no Fue' (literally, the flute of green leaves).

Dengaku (a style of dancing and music performed in association with rice planting), which was created since the mid-Heian period, was performed mainly with tsuzumi (hand drums) and sho (鉦, gongs), but fue are seen in some picture scrolls. Noh, which derived from dengaku and other folk entertainments, developed its style in the Muromachi period, and fue seem to have been introduced into Noh-hayashi (Noh musical accompaniment) around the time of Zeami. However, it is unknown whether these fue were the same as the current Nohkan (a flute used in Noh play). Historical sources in Portugal, state that the European flute was imported into Japan when Francis Xavier arrived at Kagoshima in 1549.

Nohkan and shinobue (Japanese bamboo flutes) were mainly used for Kabuki (traditional drama performed by male actors), which became popular in the Edo period. Shinobue were often used in the rites and festivals (matsuri-bayashi festival music) of common people, satokagura (kagura dances held at somewhere other than the imperial court) and the shishimai (lion dance), but ryuteki or Nohkan were used in some regions. Also, various types of fue which produce the sounds of birds or insects were invented in the Edo period, and they became popular toys for common people. A military band was on board Mathew Perry's fleet which arrived at Uraga in 1853, and many western instruments were imported into Japan after this time. Thereafter, woodwind instruments such as clarinets and oboes came to be called fue and brass instruments came to be called rappa.

Classification of Fue
The classification of fue shown below was made from several viewpoints since the coverage of the term fue is rather wide.

Fue as Musical Instruments
The word "fue" alone sometimes refers to a specific musical instrument in some genres of music. For example, it means Nohkan in the case of Noh and shinobue in the cases of folk music as well as many of rites and festivals. This is related to the class system that existed prior to the Meiji period.

A ryuteki is a yokobue that is used for gagaku. It is also used in saibara (a kind of Heian-period Japanese court music) and yamatouta (literally, Yamato's song). It is also called ojo, yojo, or oteki (literally, transverse flute) or omobue (literally, main flute).

A kagurabue is a yokobue that is used in mikagura (music performed in court ritual ceremonies) at the Imperial Court. Its tone is a little lower than that of the ryuteki. It is also called the shinteki (flute of god), yamatobue or futobue (thick flute).

A Nohkan is a yokobue that is used in Noh and Kabuki. It is also called the Nohteki (flute for Noh play).

A shinobue is a yokobue that is used in festivals (matsuri-bayashi, satokagura, shishimai, and so on) stage music such as folk music, Kabuki and classical Japanese dance (hogaku-bayashi [orchestra of Japanese classical music]) and zashiki music (literally, music in tatami-room; hauta [a Japanese traditional song or ballad sung to the accompaniment of the samisen, Japanese banjo] and kouta [a ballad sung to samisen accompaniment], and so on). It is also called the shino or takebue (bamboo flute).

Komabue (高麗笛)
A komabue is also written as 狛笛 in Chinese characters. It is a bamboo yokobue that is used in gagaku. It is used for komagaku (Korean music) and Azuma-asobi (ancient chants and dances of the eastern islands of Japan, accompanied by musical instruments). It is also called the hosobue (thin flute).

An utabue is a yokobue that was used in Azuma-asobi in ancient times. Its shape is similar to that of the komabue while it is a little larger in size. It was later replaced by the komabue and fell into obscurity. It is also called the chukan (literally, middle-sized flute).

A toteki is another name for the ryuteki when it is used for togaku (Tang Dynasty music) in gagaku. Also, it is a yokobue of 45 centimeters in length with six tone holes (eight tone holes in ancient times) that was used for gagaku at the court of Yi dynasty, Korea.

A minteki is a bamboo yokobue that is used in mingaku (Ming-era Chinese music). Mingaku is Chinese Ming Dynasty music that was imported into Japan in 1629 and it once became very popular among the people of high society in Kyoto. It has six tone holes and its head becomes thinner from the position of mouthpiece. It is characteristic for hole used to cover with bamboo paper (the inner skin of bamboo) between its mouth and finger holes. It was replaced by the shinteki (flute for shingaku) after shingaku (Zing-era Chinese music) was imported. Minteki and shinteki are sometimes collectively called Minteki. Some shinobue with six tone holes that are used for Japanese matsuri-bayashi are thought to be simplified of minteki or shinteki.

A shinteki is a bamboo yokobue that is used in shingaku. Shingaku is Chinese Qing Dynasty music that was imported in the Bunka-Bunsei era (1786 to 1841) of the Edo period, and it became popular among ordinary people, also being called minshingaku (Ming and Qing-era Chinese music). Its shape is similar to that of minteki while the tune is different. It is seldom distinguished from minteki. Although playing minshingaku was restricted during the Sino-Japanese War, minteki (shinteki) was favored by young people until Taisho period because of its major scale.

Sho (笙)
A sho (笙) is used in gagaku. It is also called 'sho no fue' (sho, the flute). The phrase 'denden-daiko ni sho no fue' (a small toy drum and sho flute) is seen in a lullaby, but this is considered to be a different instrument because sho was not a musical instrument for common people.

An u is a bamboo instrument that was imported from China during the Nara period. It is a large sho whose tone is an octave lower than that of the sho and was once used in gagaku, but it became obsolete in the middle of Heian period.
It is also called 'u no fue' (u, the flute)

Sho (簫)
A sho (簫) is a Chinese bamboo tatebue (vertical flute). Those consisting of one bamboo pipe with finger holes is called the dosho, while panpipe-type ones comprised of a set of several long and short pipes with no finger holes is called the haisho.

A shakuhachi is a one shaku eight sun (54.5 centimeters) long tatebue made of madake (Japanese timber bamboo). Long or short variants may be used depending on the purpose. Although it is believed to have derived from the shakuhachi used in gagaku, details are unknown. It was spread throughout the nation by komuso (begging Zen priests of the Fukeshu sect) during the Edo period. After komuso were abolished by the Meiji Restoration, it spread among ordinary people. It is used in koten-honkyoku (traditional Japanese music) (solo, multiple instrumental music), sankyoku-gasso (a type of ensemble method) and the accompaniment of folk music. At present, products which use the root of the madake as material and are tuned by applying 'ji' (paste), such as lacquer, on the inside of the pipe are generally used. However, instruments called 'jinashi-kan' (shakuhachi without ji) which are not lacquered on the inside are also favored by many.

A hitoyogiri is a 34-centimeter long madake tatebue which has a bamboo joint in the center of pipe. It is also called 'hitoyogiri shakuhachi,' and it is though that the hitoyogiri and shakuhachi had a mutual influence on one another.

The tenpuku is a madake tatebue that resembles the hitoyogiri.

Okura-Aulos (or Okuraulo)
An okura-aulos is a metal-made tatebue, which was invented in 1935 by the flute player Hirabayashi in response to a request by Kihachiro OKURA, that consists of a flute pipe and a shakuhachi mouth. Six versions such as Piccolo, sopranino, soprano, alt, tenor, and bass were produced. They were briefly popular as ensemble instruments but have seldom been played since.

Recorder, flute, and so on
Woodwind such as the clarinet and oboe. Tekishi (dizi): Contemporary Chinese fue. It is called the dizi in Chinese. Tekishi are divided into two types; kyokuteki of pitch C or D, and hoteki of pitch F and G. The shinteki and minteki are its precursors.

Classification by Material
Iwabue (石笛)
Stones with holes are sometimes found at ancient ruins, and there is the opinion that these might be musical instruments. Some holes are artificially bored while some are natural, and some holes completely penetrate the stones while others do not. Large ones are written as 磐笛 (iwabue) in Chinese characters.

A fue made of a horn. In Japan, conches were generally used since horns could not be obtained easily.

Ashibue (also known as Yoshibue)
The ashibue is a kusabue (reed pipe) produced by winding up reeds grass or a tatebue made from the stalk of a reed.
It is also called the 'roteki' or 'ashibue' and written as '蘆笛.'

The production of sound by blowing a young leaf of oak or chinquapin that is pushed against the lips.

A kusabue is a general term that refers to instruments which produce a sound by using a blade or a stalk of grass as a reed (musical instrument) and a resonant tube. In Japan, it sometimes refers to a rustic bamboo yokobue (shinobue) produced by an amateur (as is the case for the use of the "kusa" prefix in kusayakyu [sandlot baseball] or kusakeiba [local horse race]).

A mugibue is a type of kusabue using a stalk of barley. It is a haiku (Japanese 17-syllable poem) seasonal word for summer.

A sasabue is a type of kusabue using a bamboo leaf.

Hyon no Fue
A jar-shaped gall on the leaf of the Distylium racemosum tree is known as a 'hyon no mi' (literally, hyon nut) and the empty gall that remains when the insect has left is blown as a fue. It is a haiku seasonal word for autumn.

Classification by Tone
Many kinds of fue are used to produce sound effects for plays (geza [off-stage] music for Kabuki, and so on) or luring game, and some are also used as toys.

An akagobue is a bamboo fue that produces the sound like a baby's cry. It has a double-reed. It is used for plays.

An uguisubue is a bamboo or ceramic fue that produces the sound of the Japanese bush warbler. Some are used with water inside.
It is also called 'hatsune no fue.'
It is a haiku seasonal word for spring.

Ushi (literally, a cow)
A bamboo fue that produces the sound of cattle. It was once used in plays, but it is rarely used any more.

Uma (literally, a horse)
A bamboo fue that produces the sound of a horse. Although it was once used in plays, a recording of a horse is usually used nowadays because of the difficulty of playing the uma.

A fue that produces a sound similar to an uzura (Japanese quail). It is used for luring uzura during uzura hunting. This term also means to play a yokobue in short beats in gagaku.

A bamboo fue that produces the sound of a crow. It has a double-reed. It is used in plays.

A fue that produces a sound similar to a kiji (Japanese pheasant). Hunters use it in order to lure kiji. It is a haiku seasonal word for spring.

A fue that produces a sound similar to a kuina (water rail). It is used for luring kuina. It is a haiku seasonal word for summer.

A fue that produces a sound similar to a komadori (Japanese robin). It is used in hunting.

Shikabue (also known as Shishibue)
A fue that produces a sound similar to a shika dear. It is used by hunters to lure stags to be shot by making the sound of doe. That which was used by the Ainu people is called a itereppu.

A bamboo fue that produces the sound of a cicada. Some are specifically crafted to make the sound of the evening cicada or robust cicada. Many have an imitation of cicada attached.

A fue that produces a sound similar to a chidori (plover). It is used in plays.

A fue that produces a sound similar to a tonbi (kite). It is used in plays.

A fue that produces a sound resembling birdsong. It also refers to a bird-shaped fue.

A fue that produces a sound similar to a rooster. It is used in plays.

A fue that produces the sound of a pigeon. It is used to lure birds while hunting. It also refers to a pigeon-shaped toy fue made of unglazed pottery. It sometimes refers to an ocarina.

A bamboo fue that produces the sound of a hibari (skylark). It is a haiku seasonal word for spring.

A fue that produces the sound of an owl. It is used in plays.

A bamboo fue that produces the chirping of insects. It is used in plays.

Classification by Use
Pitch pipe
A small fue that is used for producing a standard pitch. They are used for the tuning of stringed instruments or the start of chorus without accompaniment.

Makibue (also known as Bokuteki)
A fue which herdboys use as a signal to domestic animals.

A fue which anma (masseurs) use as they stroll through town. Its sound is similar to that of a whistle.

A fue used on ships or steam locomotives and produces a sound when steam is blown in. They are used to announce time and as signals.

Muteki (also known as Kiribue) (Foghorn)
A sound signal which ships and lighthouses emit when visibility is low due to dense fog in order to make their location known. Electrical sounds are often used nowadays.

A sound that is made for the purpose of drawing attention. Used on trains and automobiles.

Whistle or Yobikobue
A small fue used by police officers when pursuing suspects or by judges as signals during competitions. They are sometimes used as rhythm instruments.

Classification by Shape and Way of Performing
The collective name for fue which are played while held vertically.

A collective name for fue which are played while held horizontally.

Fue which are placed at the nose and played by breathing out air from the nose. Although such instruments do not exist in Japan, they can be found in Southeast Asia and Oceania. It is said that air breathed out of the nose is used because of the belief that air breathed out of the mouth is impure.

Producing a fue-like sound by forcing breath through a narrow opening made by puckering the lips. It is also called kawabue. Yubibue is sometimes called kuchibue.

Producing a fue-like sound by forcing breath through fingers that have been inserted into the mouth. It is also called kuchibue.

A shawm or a trumpet (bugle).

A kuchibue-like sounds which ama (female pearl divers) produce when they breathe out after having surfaced.

A sound that is produced when strong winter wind blows against fences, bamboo hedges and electric wires. It is a haiku seasonal word for winter. It is included in Kaori KOZAI's enka (Japanese ballad) song 'Kaze Koiuta' (Breeze's Love Song) (lyrics by Ryuichi SATOMURA).

The part of throat where the trachea passes, or the Adam's apple. Although the above differs from the original meaning of fue, the term "fue" has long been used to refer to nodobue. In modern times, an example can be seen in Ogai MORI's novel "Takasebune" (The Boat on the Takase-gawa River).