The dizi is a Chinese transverse flute.
These names are likely to have multiple spellings, too, depending on the transliteration used to convert from Chinese names. Nonetheless, dizi seems to be the most common name (and written form) used in the West.
The dizi is a major Chinese musical instrument, and is widely used in many genres of Chinese folk music, as well as Chinese opera, and the modern Chinese orchestra. Traditionally, the dizi has also been popular among the Chinese common people, and it is simple to make and easy to carry.
Most dizi are made of bamboo, which explains why dizi are sometimes known by simple names such as Chinese bamboo flute. However, “bamboo” is perhaps more of a Chinese instrument classification like “woodwind” in the West. Northern Chinese dizi are made from purple or violet bamboo, while dizi made in Suzhou and Hangzhou are made from white bamboo. Dizi produced in southern Chinese regions such as Chaozhou are often made of very slender, lightweight, light-colored bamboo and are much quieter in tone.
Although bamboo is the common material for the dizi, it is also possible to find dizi made from other kinds of wood, or even from stone. Jade dizi (or yudi, 玉笛) are popular among both collectors interested in their beauty, and among professional players who seek an instrument with looks to match the quality of their renditions; however, jade may not be the best material for dizi since, as with metal, jade may not be as tonally responsive as bamboo, which is more resonant.
The dizi is not the only bamboo flute of China, although it is certainly distinctive. Other Chinese bamboo wind instruments include the vertical end-blown xiao and the koudi.