It looks like I’m going to actually play some instruments for this soundtrack. Mel’s son brought him a hulusi from China a little while ago, and I knew I’d have to use it for something eventually. Once Zen Balls became my new project, it was obvious from the start that I would have to use it.
The hulusi is an interesting instrument. It is a “gourd flute” that produces a sound very similar to a oboe or bagpipe. It also has an optional drone note, which adds to its similarity to the bagpipe. It has a very small range and only includes six notes from a particular key signature; in the case of this hulusi, it can play F, G, A, Bb, C, and D from F4 to G5.
The note limitation might sound impossibly restrictive at first, but I have found that it actually helps keep compositions focused and aesthetically consistent with each other. Consequently, my workflow for this soundtrack is essentially decided for me: compose for the hulusi, compose accompaniment digitally, then record and mix. As is often the case with creative work, limitations can actually make things easier by simply eliminating the need to make a large number of decisions, and composing for the hulusi is certainly no exception.