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Topic: Native American wood flutes

  1. #1

    Native American wood flutes

    Sorry for all the questions today, I was just wondering if anyone had played a Native American flute before and if they had any advice on puchasing, playing, etc.

    I am looking to buy a \"G\" flute from a maker in Oregon but must confess I have never played one before.

    Or does anyone have a recommendation for a good but reasonably priced Native American flute maker?

    Here is the website for the flutes I am considering; www.stroudflutes.com



    P.S Perhaps if I get good at playing it maybe I\'ll sample it and offer it as a download. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

  2. #2

    Re: Native American wood flutes


    I could give you tons of info on Native Flutes but the maker I recommend the most is Odell Borg at http://www.highspirits.com/
    The flutes are amazing quality for the $ AND he tunes every flute he makes on a strobe tuner as he\'s drilling them. Many traditional makers do not - not only are they not in tune with themselves - they\'re not in tune with any other instrument.
    I had them custom drill and tune one for me and it was spot on. I\'ve got 3 of his and they\'re all great.
    If you decide to go with them, tell them what key you need and to make sure the pitch is dead on. I think his wife\'s name is Joan or Joanne and was very helpful in this regard.

    Chris Luke
    Athabaskan / Iroquois

  3. #3

    Re: Native American wood flutes

    Thanks Chris! His flutes look excellent. Knowing the general style of working composers here at NS, do you have any recommendations on what flutes might sound good to play along with TV/Film style music? I know its kind of a broad question, but I would like to layer some live flute parts over orchestral, folk, even tribal style cues.

    I was looking at the \"G\" flute since it would play along nicely with a lot of open chords on the acoustic guitar. But Im open to suggestions.

    Also, would you have any suggestions on Walnut or Cedar as the wood? It appears that Odell suggests; \"Cedar for warmth and clarity. Walnut and Mahogany for a bright clear voice.\" Just wondering what your thoughts might be there.

    He appears to be the only flute maker Ive seen that offers flutes that play in both major and minor keys too.

    Thanks again for the link, it good to know he comes recommended.

  4. #4

    Re: Native American wood flutes

    I know that \"professional\" recorders are generally made out of hardwood. Cheap ones are made out of pear, for example, while good ones are made out of exotic woods like polysander (African black wood). Mine are rosewood, which is hard.

    Whether that applies to Indian flutes is another question, but I suspect it does. With recorders, the hard woods make the tone more stable, louder, and just better.

  5. #5

    Re: Native American wood flutes


    I play NA flute, and use it in my world music compositions quite a bit. I agree that you need to find a maker that tunes his flutes well. I have about 10 flutes, all in different keys, and some of them are not really usable with other instruments, because they are not tuned well. In fact, sometimes I even use Autotune on them when I use them in an orchestral setting. I don\'t have any Odell Borg flutes, but I\'ve heard very good things about them, and played a couple which were very nice flutes.

    Here are a few of my pieces with NA flute if you care to listen.

    (Midnight Train uses a drone flute for the train whistle sound)

    Also on my Soundclick site there is a solo NA flute piece called \"911 Elegy\".

    -- Martin

    PS The drone flute I used for Midnight Train was made in Australia.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Cannibal Island, Loleta, California

    Re: Native American wood flutes

    I have a couple of rosewood recorders that I\'m very satisfied with, but I\'ve been tempted to get a native american flute for that really soft, warm sound... so it seems like getting the hardest wood available might defeat the purpose (at least in my case).
    On the other hand, I have some cheap, soft wood recorders which do have a mellower sound, but are also less responsive and generally not as nice to play. I wonder how much of that is because of the wood, and how much is the quality of the construction?
    It might be good to email one of the flute makers and ask them if it\'s mainly a tonal difference with the different woods, or if they also notice a difference in the instruments playability.

  7. #7

    Re: Native American wood flutes

    Thanks for your help everyone, I thought it was a long shot posting a thread about Native American flutes here but never underestimate NS!

    I have placed an order for two of Odell Borgs flutes, a Sparrow Hawk A and a Kestrel high D.

    Martin, I really enjoyed your music showcasing the NA flute. I particularly liked the 911 piece, very haunting and very beautiful.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Cannibal Island, Loleta, California

    Re: Native American wood flutes

    If you don\'t mind, will you let us know how the flutes work out for you? I\'m seriously considering getting the Sparrow Hawk A too.

    Lee Blaske\'s post about the plexiglass flutes reminded me about Susato whistles. They\'re another option for a nice mellow sound. They aren\'t as mellow (or nice to look at) as the native american flutes... but they are great to play and much softer and smoother sounding than regular whistles.

  9. #9

    Re: Native American wood flutes

    Hi, not at all. Ana (Odells wife I think) was really helpful. I gave her a call and she actually recommended the softwood Sparrow Hawk over the hardwood. The reason being is that she says it is already a reasonably high flute and the softwood gives a more acoustic and warm tone. I was set to buy the hardwood but followed her advice.

    When placing my order through their website, she instructed me to mention on the order form that I am a composer and that they will ensure that the flute is perfectly in tune.

    So far, I am very happy with their service. I rang and emailed one flute maker (rang from Australia mind you), and they are yet to respond.

  10. #10

    Re: Native American wood flutes


    Glad you enjoyed the music.

    Let us hear some music when you get the flutes!

    -- Martin

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