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Native American Flute

Once used as a courting tool to help young Native men woo the objects of their affection, the Native American flute has created a modern-day niche for itself in the New Age and world music industries.

Native American flutes are known for their unique, two-chamber construction. It’s this dual air chamber design that gives the flutes the distinct, resonant sound that suits New Age music and world music so well. The result is a scale that has been described as similar to playing the black keys on a piano.

In addition to its unusual air chamber design, the Native American flute is also larger than the traditional flutes we see in orchestras and school bands. If custom constructed for its player, the Native American flute would measure the same length as the distance from the player’s armpit to waist. Generally, either five or six holes would run along the flute, spaced according to the width of the player’s fist and thumb. More, less, or even no holes have also been seen on Native American flutes. In some cases, two flutes are constructed as one for a harmonic, but even more unusual sound. These double flutes are called ‘drone’ flutes. All traditional Native American flutes are created from wood.

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The origin of the Native American flute is unclear, but the flute’s history is full of interesting lore, including several stories of the flute being used to win over the heart of a woman. These same stories are responsible for the Native American flute being played only my men during its earlier days.

The Native American flute enjoys a wider usage in contemporary times, however. While it is still a favourite for traditional Native American musicians, the flute is enjoyed and played by both men and women of all ages and cultures.

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