Here we go again....continuing our push to complete the characters of Alphabird this week! I'm really excited about this one, so sit tight for lots of documentation.....
Y is for Yuki who mastered the yu, while also tap-shoe-ing and yodeling too.
As you may have guessed, Y was one of the more challenging letters of the book. I returned to my woodpecker family to make a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, and was only offered two ancient Chinese musical instruments. One choice was the Yun-Lo--a gong.....but that was already covered, so I was happy to fall back on the obsolete Chinese wind instrument, the Yu.
To be honest, I'm not really sure how this thing is played, and there are no videos to be found, to the best of my knowledge. I did find this description, that makes me think there are several tunings to this instrument: "multiple bamboo pipes fixed in a wind chest which may have been made of bamboo, wood, or gourd. Each pipe contained a free reed, which was also made of bamboo. Whereas the sheng was used to provide harmony (in fourths and fifths), the yu was played melodically. The instrument was used, often in large numbers, in the court orchestras of ancient China (and also imported to Korea and Japan) but is no longer used."
There's some great lore associated with this instrument, according to Wikipedia: Although the yu is now obsolete, it is known to most Chinese speakers through the saying "Làn yú chōng shù" (滥竽充数), meaning "to fill a position without having the necessary qualifications." The saying is derived from the story of Nanguo, a man from southern China who joined the royal court orchestra of King Xuan of Qi (宣王, 319 BC–300 BC), the ruler of the State of Qi (Shandong province) as a yu player. Although the man did not actually know how to play this instrument, he knew that the orchestra had no fewer than 300 yu players, so he felt secure that he could simply pretend to play, and thus collect a musician's salary. Upon the king's death, Nanguo was eventually found out as an impostor when the king's son Min (泯王, 300 BC–283 BC), who had succeeded his father as king, asked the musicians to play individually rather than as a group. On the night before he was to play, Nanguo fled the palace, never to return.
Since yodeling is something I'll have to indicate via text in the book, I decided to add lederhosen to my sapsucker:
I was happy to find several dashing pairs of masculine tap shoes to emulate as well:
So now I present to you, our Yu-playing, tap dancing and yodeling Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker:
As with the nose flute, I had a great time looking at yodeling videos. Here are my two favorites: