We see Uncle Iroh play this peaceful musical instrument periodically throughout the Avatar: The Last Airbender series...

enter image description here

What is the in-universe name of this instrument and what real instrument is played to make the sound?

  • 1
    I love how the edit contains the answer (in the video title) :D – Kevin Aug 29 '16 at 15:50
  • @Kevin - It's unfortunate :-) – Valorum Aug 29 '16 at 19:45

The in-universe name is the "Tsungi Horn" (also referred to as a Tsunghi horn and a Sungi Horn, depending on who was being interviewed)

Zuko: For the last time, I'm not playing the tsungi horn!

Iroh: No, it's about our plans. There's a bit of a problem.

The Waterbending Master

In reality, the makers of the show used a mixture of Armenian duduk music and a Western trombone to make the sounds from this fictitious instrument.

JZ: Uncle Iroh's sunghi horn piece turned out to be pretty effective. That was another interesting challenge since the sunghi horn is a fictitious instrument. We had to invent a new instrument without letting it sound modern and computerized. Ironically, we wound up using a music synthesis technique called convolution to impose characteristics of a trombone onto the duduk. I think the result sounds very much like an acoustic instrument which is part reed and part brass.

Music Interview with the Track Team

  • 1
    +1 Interesting. I don't really hear any trombone mixed in. I believe you and think you're right. Just don't hear the bone. I definitely guessed it was some sort of reed instrument. – iMerchant Aug 29 '16 at 0:17
  • 2
    @iMerchant - I think what they're driving at is that they superimposed the Duduk music onto a synthesiser capable of doing fast glissandos, something that the Duduk absolutely can't do. – Valorum Aug 29 '16 at 0:32
  • Gotcha. They made it so u can "slide" the notes up & down like a bone. +1 for teaching a new word (glissandos). – iMerchant Aug 29 '16 at 0:37
  • The show quote and the interview use different spellings ("tsungi" vs "sunghi"). Are there two acceptable spellings or is one of them in error? – Thunderforge Aug 29 '16 at 15:18
  • 1
    @Thunderforge - There's a quote on one of the avatar boards, allegedly from one of the production team. "[T]he tsungi horn had to be a cross between a woodwind and a brass instrument. we played that theme on a duduk (armenian reed instrument) and then performed a computer process called convolution where we combined the timbre of a trombone with our duduk performance.". So the most likely correct spelling is tsungi, although I've seen it spelled variously. The quote above is presumably a transcription, rather than an online interview – Valorum Aug 29 '16 at 15:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.