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The Cucurbit Flute
The cucurbit flute is a musical instrument unique to the ethnic groups in China's Yunnan Province. It is especially popular among the Dai people. The instrument is made with natural materials of gourd and bamboo. Composed of a gourd, main pipes, reeds and auxiliary pipes, the cucurbit flute sounds beautiful and heartwarming. It is ideal for expressing soft and tender feelings. As the sounds are as soft and graceful as shaking silk, the flute is also called "Bottle Gourd Silk". In addition, the instrument is simple and elegant in appearance, easy to learn, small and easy to carry.
There's a touching legend about the cucurbit flute among the Dai people. It is said that in the remote past, a young man of the Dai minority saved his sweetheart from a mountain flood by holding a big bottle gourd and rushing through the turbulent waves. His unswerving loyalty to love touched the Buddha, who inserted bamboo pipes into a gold bottle gourd and gave it to the brave man.
Holding up the gold bottle gourd, the man played beautiful music. All of a sudden, the torrential flood retreated, flowers came out and peacocks were spreading their tails. All things on earth seemed to be sending their good wishes to the lovers. Ever since then, the cucurbit flute has been passed down from generation to generation among the Dai people.
The Dai people are versatile and skilled in singing and dancing. During festivals, they sing songs to the accompaniment of intoxicating cucurbit flute tunes and the music can be heard everywhere. Popular cucurbit flute pieces include Lakeside Peacocks and the Depth of Bamboo Groves etc.
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