Friday Favorites 1/24/2014
There was a time when Muri and I went away for a short Valentine’s Day vacation every year. The last of those was in Lake Arrowhead, CA, the year our first grandson, Reed, was born. He was born, by the way, on that Valentine’s Day (how incredibly appropriate, for he is a love). Our long weekend ended with race down mountain switchbacks to get Muri to a flight to Arizona for his birth. I would join her by the end of the week, and with his birth, Valentine’s Day vacations were superseded by Reed’s birthday. One of our Valentine’s Day weekends was spent in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and while each of our weekends was enjoyable, Santa Fe was not our favorite destination. But two things stand out from that vacation: a concert by a little known Canadian folk music group, Leahy; and the Valentine’s Day present that Muri bought me while we were there.
I have always been intrigued by the sound of the Native American flute. There is something incredibly calming about the mellow, woody sound of Native American flutes, which is why they are featured in so many New Age instrumentals. And, of course, New Age philosophies have always been fascinated by the Native American culture. Shortly before we went to Sante Fe, I had purchased the Rippington’s CD, Topaz, which includes three tracks featuring Native American flutist, Robert Tree Cody. Cody’s playing brought a mystical touch to the sound of one of my favorite jazz groups. This is Taos, from that recording.
As Muri and I wandered the streets of Santa Fe, we came upon the Native Sounds store which featured various Native American musical instruments and I just had to go in … just to look, of course. Muri, seeing the sparkle in my eye, said, Would you like one for Valentine’s Day? I did … and this is it, one of my favorite possessions.
This flute is made by High Spirits flute makers and is carved from a single piece of cedar. According to Wikipedia, a Native American flute has two internal chambers, a compression chamber into which the player breathes and a sound chamber connected to the compression chamber by a narrow channel formed by the bird-shaped block on the top of the flute. The compression chamber can also provide secondary resonance to the sound adding to the instrument’s distinctive sound. Flutes commonly have five or six finger holes (mine has six but one can be covered using a rawhide strap allowing either five or six hole playing). Most are tuned to a minor pentatonic scale with five notes to an octave, which accounts for the instrument’s plaintive sound. Accomplished flutists can produce a wide range of sounds and warbles, yet even a beginner can produce reasonable sounds. Playing the instrument seems to be inherently relaxing. This is what my flute sounds like when I play it.https://oldereyes.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/flute.mp3%20
This simple piece, Eagle’s Cry, shows what it could sound like in the hands of flutist John DeBoer.
Even more impressive is this haunting piece in an orchestral setting, Canyon Reverie, by Native Flute virtuoso, R. Carlos Nikai.
Maybe someday, I’ll be able make my flute sound like that. Not a chance, really … but it’s still my Friday Favorite. Have a great weekend.