Ryuteki flute (龍笛)

Ryuteki flute is a wind instrument used in the performance of gagaku (ancient Japanese court music). It is counted among Fukimono (wind instruments of the court music of Japan).

Ryuteki flute is a transverse flute made of a bamboo tube with 'Utaguchi' (mouthpiece) and seven tone holes. Ryuteki flute is also believed to be a prototype and origin of all Japanese transverse flutes, such as flutes used in Noh hayashi (percussion ensemble) and shino-bue (Japanese bamboo flute).

Compared with other musical instruments used in gagaku, Ryuteki flute has a wide range (the distance from the lowest to the highest pitch it can play) of 2 octaves (from E5 to D7).
The name of Ryuteki flute (literally means a dragon flute) is derived from its tone, which is compared to 'a roar of the rising dragon,' sounding as if there is no barrier between the lowest pitch and the highest pitch

Ryuteki flute was loved by nobles and busho (Japanese military commanders) from ancient times. There are many episodes relating to Ryuteki flute in the stories about Emperor Horikawa, MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune, MINAMOTO no Hiromasa and so on.
Moreover, Seishonagon also wrote in "Makura no soshi" (an essay written in the Heian period), 'I love the sound of flute very much among various music instruments.'

In a concert, Hichiriki flute players play a main melody, while Ryuteki flute players produce such sounds that they match the main melody.

In addition, the first part of a composition is usually a Ryuteki flute solo. The leader of the Ryuteki flute players in the composition, called Ondo or Shukan, takes charge of this solo performance.

It is believed that Ryuteki flute was exported via the Silk Road to become the prototype of flute in Europe.

[Original Japanese]