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So... what the heck is the Native American flute, anyway? I'd say it's pure magic, but that's not exactly the scientific definition you might be looking for, so let me share with you what I've learned about this wonderful stick of wood.
to R. Carlos Nakai & James Demars "like the recorder, the
Native American flute is an end-blown vertically held block flute,
belonging to the family of instruments called flute-a-bec, that uses a
movable flue, diaphragm and a chimneyed air-directing apparatus to
Basically, this means that you blow into the end (not across the top as in transverse or concert flutes) to create the sound. Air is forced through the chimney, and hits the fetish (the animal carving at the top), creating a little mini-hurricane and releasing the energy as sound. That also means that the "sound" comes out of the top of the flute, not the opposite end of the flute.
The flute usually has 5 or 6 holes, is constructed in one key (also like a recorder or an ocarina). It is almost always constructed in a minor scale (F# minor is the most widely used in traditional Native American music). The flute does not really hold a sacred spot in Native American history, but instead was was used primarily to woo the ladies!
NAF resources on the web:
Major artists worth checking out: