Journeying with the Native American Style Flute
A series of Native American flute workshops is being organised by flute maker Todd Chaplin of Southern Cross Flutes this coming January in Wellington. This from Todd’s website:
Join us for an amazing long weekend (Jan 17–20th 2014) of flute playing workshops centered on music-making with the Native American Flute. This retreat designed for players of any amount of experience who want to raise their playing and enjoyment of the instrument to a new level. Facilitated by two wonderful players of the Native American Indian Style Flute, from the U.S.A – Clint Goss and Vera Shanov. Read more »
Native Amercan flutes are probably the easiest type of flute to play and they produce a beautiful organic tone that is very satisfying. For those who might be interested in attending these workshops but lack a flute, Gandharva Loka stocks two ranges of good quality and relatively inexpensive Native American flutes. One range is by Todd Chaplin of Wellington and the other is by Odell Borg of High Spirits Flutes in Arizona, USA. Both of these respected flute makers craft their instruments from a variety of woods and in a variety of sizes and pitches.
Please feel free to contact us or come into Gandharva Loka if you are interested in trying or hearing these beautiful flutes.
This article was written by Pat Higgins in 2004 for the quarterly Flute Focus magazine (now an online publication) and is reproduced here with the permission of Flute Focus and Pat Higgins.
The Wooden Flute in New Zealand
The simple-system wooden flute has been relatively rare in New Zealand; and in comparison to the Boehm instrument, it still is unusual. However, in recent years we have seen a steady growth in interest in this instrument. It used to be that people would say, “but that’s not a flute… ” on seeing a wooden instrument, obviously expecting the Boehm instrument familiar to thousands from school music classes. The increase in numbers of people becoming interested in and playing this instrument has come about as people became exposed to the sound of the wooden flute as part of the enormous world-wide surge in interest in Irish culture over the last ten years or so. (Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, Guinness Tours of New Zealand, etc…)
The wooden simple system flute [also known as Irish flutes] is used almost exclusively for Irish traditional music, (though there may be professional musicians using it for classical performance, as is the case overseas). The author is aware of one musician in Wellington, Barnard Wells, who uses the simple system flute for playing Cuban and Latin music in a band situation. In nineteenth century Ireland, traditional music survived amongst the poor and impoverished; the classical music of the drawing room being the preserve of the rich. In 1831 Theobald Boehm invented his metal flute and sometime after, the wooden instruments it replaced gradually became un-fashionable; thus becoming affordable or at least more available to ‘folk-musicians’. It is not known (at least to the author) when exactly this occurred, but the transition must have been slow as classical musicians would have had to re-learn a whole new fingering system. In any case Irish traditional music formally played on pipes, fiddle and whistle could now also be played on the simple system eight-key wooden flute.