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【Instrument】The Tsuur / 苏尔

The Tsuur (Chinese name: 苏尔; Tuvan name: шоор) is a grass flute, made of the stalk of a grass traditionally, similar to many flutes, is a Tuva instrument and was included in the non-material cultural protection project in 2007 by UNESCO.

图瓦苏尔(英文名:Tsuur; 图瓦语名:Чуур)草笛,用芦苇草根制成,类似笛子,是图瓦人的乐器,2007年被联合国教科文组织列入非物质文化保护项目。

The Tsuur found at Kanas Lake, in northwest China, is made of hollowed out stalks (reeds) of the genus Polygonaceae, which is called 'Mandalesi' by the local Tuvans. It is 50 cm in length and has 3 holes, the tube is rough and not regular. On the other hand, the Tsuur tube found in the Republic of Tuva (Russian Federation) has five sound holes (and at present in their tradition, the tube body is made exclusively of PVC tubing). Hollow, slender, the shape of the instrument is similar to the Chinese Xiao. The materials used to make Tsuur are particular: they cannot be too thick or too thin. There are three round holes in the pipe body, and the distance and size are very neatly positioned. The first hole has a distance of four fingers from the second hole, and the third hole is four fingers away from the second hole.


Radik Performing Tsuur During Studio Session


When playing the Tsuur, the tube body should be vertical, with two hands holding it, and the two index fingers and the middle finger respectively controlling the three sound holes. The upper end of the tube sits close to the performer's lower lip from where the sound is emitted. According to experts, "Tsuur" is what was regarded as the famous "Hujia" in ancient China and has a long history.


The Legend of Arbu and his Tsuur:

Once upon a time, there was a Tuva old man named Arbu, who created the Tsuur, and he could stay up all night playing it. The locals said that he was not ordinary, and he called him ‘Tsuur ghost’. When Arbu was 60, he married a 30-year-old wife who was moved by the sound of the flute. Later, when he went hunting in the mountains, he only played and did not hunt down any animals. Finally, after a long time, his wife said, ‘the trees are old, the leaves are gone, can the sparrows go up and down? After listening to this, Arbu decided to leave, and while he was walking, he expressed his sorrow with the Tsuur. As a result, the wild sheep and deer along the mountains were attracted near to him by his music, and upon seeing this, his wife’s heart melted and she ran back to him. Following, she urged him to return home and together they lived happily thereafter.




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