Saturday, October 3, 2015

Bamboo Flutes Exploration

Dear Readers,

For the sake of reducing the scope of this exploration, I'm focusing here only on end blown bamboo flutes and their variants, not transverse flutes.  I'm also focusing primarily on bamboo.

Some initial observations so far are that there are traditions of bamboo flute making in every area of the world where there is bamboo. Even given the constraints of physical sound making, which conserves fundamental flute dimensions, it is interesting to see the regional variation, or not, of bamboo flute making across the world.

Bamboo World Ecozone

Bamboo flutes vary according to scale, key, length, number of holes, and reeds (or not).  For the next month or so, I'll continue to put up videos and other material on bamboo flutes.  After that, I intend to organize the flutes and compare them.

The above picture of a bamboo forest is from the Summit Garden in Vanuatu.

Wishing you well,


Friday, September 25, 2015

End Blown Flutes of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Havelock Island in the Andaman Islands

Cane End Blown Flute,
Nicobar Islands, 1800

Palm leaf tied with string near hole at upper end.; 35.6 cm.

Provenance: Harold Reeves, London, 3 Nov. 1922. Formerly in the collections of Mr. T. W. Taphouse, Oxford, and Dr. Thomas Lea Southgate, London.


". . . the Nicobarese have flutes and a kind of guitar made of bamboo.  On my subsequent visit to the Great Nicobar, I obtained an example of what would be more correctly described as a flageolet than a flute, since it was hollow bamboo, blown through at the end, with a reed tied over the first hole."

from Jungle Life in India: Or, The Journeys and Journals of an Indian Geologist by Valentine Ball, 1880 (Link), page 204.

Great Nicobar Island

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Native American Bone, Block and Edge Blown Flutes - Marlon Magdalena

Marlon Magdelena speaking at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Marlon Magdalena


"My name is Marlon Magdalena, aka Ælu'æki or aluaki (translates to "Young Elk"-- Æ and æ are the same sound as the "a" in "hat" and "bat"). It is my Jemez Pueblo name. I am an accepted tribally-enrolled member of Jemez Pueblo, a federally-recognized tribe in New Mexico. I come from the Magdalena Family and the Sando Family, as well as the Panana's and the Vigil's/Mora's. My life is centered around my family and community of Jemez, where I have lived most of my life. I proudly participate in all aspects of Jemez Life; for instance, I speak the Jemez Language, I plant Jemez corn, sing Jemez songs, and dance Jemez Dances. I am proud that I am from a place that still continues our ancient ways of life."

"I currently make and sell 3 kinds of woodwind instruments found in North America; Rim-blown Flutes, Two-Chambered Block Flutes and small bone flutes and whistles. I also make small paintings (mostly of various animals) and traditional crafts (i.e., leather pouches). I give flute performances and flute-making demonstrations as well."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chinese Xiao (Flute) - Wild Geese Alighting on Sand 平沙落雁 - Zhang Weiliang 张维良

Zhang Weiliang 张维良


Zhang Weiliang is an educator; composer; professor of the China Conservatory of Music; doctoral supervisor; vice chairman of the Beijing Musician Association; President of China Bamboo Flute Society; and Deputy Director of Academic Board of China Conservatory of Music.

"Zhang was a former executive member of the Chinese Musicians Association; Deputy Director of Folk Music Committee and Director of Chinese Music Department in Chinese Conservatory of Music. He was awarded Beijing “Great Teacher” title in 2011; In 2010, he was awarded Beijing Model Worker title and the Ministry of National Education prize for excellence."

"In 2010, Zhang won the instrumental music works competition from the Culture Department for “Weeping Flower”. In 2008, he was in charge of music creation for the 29th Olympic opening ceremony."

"In 1987, 2009 and 2011 he participated in Jiangnan Sizhu competitions and won first price for each."

"Zhang has had three solo concerts at the British Royal Music Hall, cooperated and researched with France Lyon Electronic Musical Centre for electronic music production, had concerts in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Central Concert Hall in USA and concerts in Europe, Asia, America and Africa."