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A Traditional Flute

 

A short time ago, I was asked at a Native American festival what the difference was between my flutes, and another flute makers.  My reply was, "About ten thousand years!" I did not make that statement in a derogatory fashion.  The flutes in question are some of the finest replicas made in the United Stated.  My flutes are made with tradition.  Sure,  'if we'd a' had 'em, we'd a' used 'em'.  Some people would have used power tools, and made their work easier, but, then, maybe not.  There is much to be said for tradition.  My flutes are made by hand.  I work the cane or wood by hand.  I polish the wood, I don’t put a lacquer, or finish on it.  I use a natural oil to protect it.  The holes are burned in, not drilled.  The smoke is blown through the flute with a prayer for each of the seven holes, seven directions, and the "Spirit holes".  A lot of hard work, and "sweat" goes into my flutes.   This is not necessary to make a flute!  It is only necessary to make a traditional "Native American" flute!  It is how I honor my ancestors, and the man that taught me.  I can do no less.  It is my joy, and my pride!

 What is a "Native American Flute"?

 A Native American Flute is a lot more than a piece of cane or hollowed out wood with holes drilled in it!

Native American people observe tradition, and ritual in their everyday pursuits.  It has been said that "All things are Sacred, and every day is a day of Thanksgiving"!. 

With anything that has a tradition, tradition must be honored.  It is how we honor our Ancestors!

The flute has traditions that must be honored!

The flute goes back, in most Nations tradition, to First Man, and First Woman;  that’s pretty old!

The early flutes were made of cane, or hollowed out wood, and tuned to hand and arm measurements of the flute maker.  Most of the flutes made today are electronically tuned to modern chromatic scale.  The old flutes were tuned by the body in a minor pentatonic scale.

So what's the difference?

A "Native Tuned" flute, and a modern replica are both hollowed out wood or cane.  They are both tuned to a musical scale.  What is the difference?

The difference is tradition!  The early wood flutes were pieces of wood with the heart removed.  When a man removed the heart of the wood, he had better be prepared to replace it with his own heart!  That was the tradition.  There has always been a strong connection between the flute and the body,  The Plains Nations played courting flutes made of wood.  They offered their songs to their intended wife as they offered their body and soul!  It was a part of them that could not be separated!  Woodlands people used the flutes as ceremonial instruments, and for healing.  Remove the mind - spirit - body connection, and you have a fine instrument.  Just don't call it an "Indian Flute"!  These men, our Ancestors, put their energy, their heart, and their soul into the instrument they created.  It became a part of all they were!  It was their pride!   You just can't teach a machine to do that!

    How was it made?

In the past, and today, the flutes are made by hand,  It is made with loving care and attention.  In the Native American way of thinking, what we put our energy into;  what we put our "blood, sweat, and tears" into, becomes a part of us, and we become a part of it.    I have no problem with “manufactured” flutes.  Many of the flute makers have gone to that style of flute.  It's a lot easier to make, takes a lot less time, and can be turned out in mass quantities, every one of them sounding exactly alike.  These flute makers strive for a high quality instrument that can be played in a modern band.  There are excellent flutes made in this way.  Just don’t call them an “Indian Flute”, even if it is made by a Native American.   It does not hold to tradition.  Why make them traditionally?  We make the flutes traditionally to honor our Ancestors!  Are they better?  No!  It just depends on what is wanted;  thousands of years of tradition, or a replica.  It is the buyers choice!

 What you get!

        A hand made flute according to the traditions I have been taught.

      A five hole, minor pentatonic scale that is easy to play.

       A rich, vibrant tone that calls out to the “indigenous” in all of us. Truly an instrument of the heart.  Each flute, like each human being, has it's own character and voice.  There are no two alike.

      A family heirloom for your grand children, and their grandchildren.

        Thousands of years of tradition.

      My energy, my joy, my pride.  My chi, my life force!

        Man Wolf sets his prices to allow more people to invest in the beauty of the Cherokee flute, and in a lifetime of enjoyment!  Man Wolf, a musician in his own right, has three selections of Native American flute music available on CD.  Listen to clips of Cherokee style flute music, browse the site at your leisure, and, please!  Feel Welcome!

 

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Last modified: 11/08/05