Drumatic Innovation meets Flute Quest!
The Washington Flute Circle was formed to provide a resource for individuals and organizations that are interested in the Native American flute.
Those who wish to form flute circles, put on seminars or workshops, access individuals that create and/or sell flutes, find teachers or mentors of the flute and create a repository of information surrounding the flute and its music and history for future generations can resource the Washington Flute Circle.
In short it is an organization that wishes to celebrate the flute from the heart providing a path for healing in this world. The Washington Flute Circle (WFC) is the founding organization for the annual event Flute Quest.
Washington Flute Circle’s charter is to provide education and mentoring in the creation of and support for Flute Circles in the Northwest as well as a vehicle providing goodwill services to surrounding communities through the celebration of the Native American Flute.
The Native American flute is the first flute in the world constructed with two air chambers – there is a wall inside the flute between the top (slow) air chamber and the bottom chamber which has the whistle and finger holes. The top chamber also serves as a secondary resonator, which gives the flute its distinctive sound. There is a hole at the bottom of the “slow” air chamber and a (generally) square hole at the top of the playing chamber. A block (or “fetish”) is tied on top of the flute. In a plains flute, a spacer is added or a channel is carved into the block itself to form a thin, flat air stream for the whistle hole (or “window”). In contrast, a woodlands flute has the channel carved into the top of the flute, allowing for a less reedy sound.
Some modern Native American flutes are called “drone” flutes, and are two (or more) flutes built together. Generally, the drone chamber plays a fixed note which the other flute can play against in harmony. However, the drone may also change octaves as it resonates with the melody played on the adjacent flute.
The “traditional” Native American flute was constructed using measurements based on the body – the length of the flute would be the distance from inside of the elbow to tip of the index finger, the length of the top air chamber would be one fist-width, the distance from the whistle to the first hole also a fist-width, the distance between holes would be one thumb-width, and the distance from the last hole to the end would generally be one fist-width.
Native American flutes can be made from various materials. Juniper, Redwood and Cedar are popular, as they provide a nice aroma. The softwoods are generally preferred by most flute players because of the softer tones produced by the wood. Other harder woods such as walnut and cherry are appreciated for the clear, crisp, richness of sound that they can produce. Although traditionally flutes would be made from river cane (Arundinaria gigantea), bamboo or a local wood, more exotic rainforest woods or even plastics and bamboo are now used.
Modern Native American flutes are generally tuned to a variation of the minor pentatonic scale, which gives the instrument its distinctive plaintive sound. Recently some makers have begun experimenting with different scales, giving players new melodic options. Also, modern flutes are generally tuned in concert keys (such as A or D) so that they can be easily played with other instruments. The root keys of modern Native American flutes span a range of about three and a half octaves, from C2 to A5.
Commercially in the USA, only flutes crafted by enrolled Native Americans or their approved artisans are considered to be “Native American Flutes”. It is illegal for any other to connote Native origins, or to misnomer their Native American style flutes as “Native”, per the 1990 Indian Arts And Crafts Act. This act makes such misrepresentation a Federal felony. Non-Native makers must at least include such terms as “style” in descriptions of their wares.
Drumatic Innovation is pleased to participate in the 2010 Washington Flute Circle festival. We look forward to a continued relationship with our new friends, supporting each other in our mutual love of arts and culture.
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Michael 208 627 9045
Molly 208 627 9045
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