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Article

J. Richard Haefer

[Čłxwa]

End-blown flute of the Flathead Indians of Montana, USA. Often called a courting flute, it is made from elderberry or fir and is about 45 cm long and 2 cm in diameter. The soft elderberry pith is burnt out with a heated metal rod and six ésłxlox (fingerholes) are burnt near the middle of the instrument, the distance between them determined by hand position. A small slit near the top of the flute is partially filled with pitch directing the air against the edge of the opening. Traditionally it is not decorated, but some Flatheads have adopted decorated vertical Chinese flutes as substitutes....

Article

Chad Stephen Hamill

[sepú‧nmeʔs mítʼip]

End-blown flute of the Native Americans of the Columbia Plateau. It is called č ɫx̣ ʷálq ʷ by the Interior Salish and sepú ‧nme ʔs mít ʼip by the Sahaptin. A heated metal rod is used to push the pith out of a straight section of elderberry stalk 38 to 60 cm long and about 2.5 cm in diameter, and to burn fingerholes (typically six) into the stalk; often an additional non-fingered hole is made near the bottom. A V-shaped slot is cut near the proximal end and partially filled with pine pitch to deflect the air; the slot is covered with a rawhide block to direct the wind over the pitch and against the lower end of the V. Historically it was used by men to court women; nowadays it is more commonly used for personal enjoyment....

Article

Kay Edwards

[Blue Butterfly ]

(b Madison, WI, June 4, 1959). American composer and flutist of Mohican descent (enrolled member of Stockbridge Band of Mohican Nation). He earned degrees in music composition from Northern Illinois University (BM 1981) and Arizona State University (MM 1990) and a separate degree in American Indian Religious Studies from Arizona State University (MA 1992). Davids merges his classical training in Western music with Native American elements that have been nurtured by many visits to Stockbridge Munsee Reservation, where his father was raised; in many of his pieces, native percussion can be heard alongside European instruments to create a colorful musical tapestry. Davids is also a concert flutist, famous for performing on his signature handmade quartz crystal flutes, as well as standard flute and native wooden flutes. He has written commissioned works for the National Symphony Orchestra’s 60th anniversary, Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, Chanticleer, Zeitgeist, the Kronos Quartet, the Miró String Quartet, and the Joffrey Ballet. He has received awards from In-Vision, Meet the Composer, Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and Jerome Foundation, among others. In ...

Article

John M. Schechter

revised by J. Richard Haefer

In modern Nahutl, a generic term for an Aztec flute. Traditionally it was a ceramic globular vessel flute. Stanford equates it with the flute çoçoloctli. Clay huilacapitztli have been found up to 20 cm in diameter and with five to eight tone holes. More developed examples are found throughout Central America. It was played together with the tlapitzalli by ‘Adonis’ (the Aztec sacrificial young man) as he ascended the steps of the pyramid for sacrifice.

The tlapitzalli is an Aztec end-blown flute, usually made of clay but sometimes of wood or bone. It is found in various shapes (straight, curved, Y-shape) and sizes from 15 to 35 cm long. The proximal end has a duct mouthpiece and the distal end is often flared. It can have up to four bores which can be blown together or separately. The body might be painted with images of Aztec dieties or decorated with three-dimensional figures. Traditionally it was blown by priests at solemn ceremonies, and Montezuma is said to have been entertained by one while eating. Adonis played the ...

Article

Mary Riemer-Weller

[ká:ˀke:taˀ] (Seneca: ‘whistle’)

Vertical whistle of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederation people of north-eastern North America. It is made of cane, about 45 cm long with an external duct, like the courting flute, but no fingerholes. Only two notes are produced, the fundamental and its overblown octave. It is used only during the ceremony of the Little Water Medicine Society and in the Eagle Dance, a curing ritual....

Article

John-Carlos Perea

(b Tama, IA, May 13, 1933; d Ames, IA, Aug 16, 2006). Native American (Meskwaki) singer, drummer, and flute player. Kapayou was born on the Meskwaki Indian Settlement in Tama, Iowa, where his mother Lucille, a flute player, taught him sacred and secular repertoires of Meskwaki music. While serving in the Army and working in construction, Kapayou retained his commitment to these traditions. He received a National Heritage Fellowship from the NEA in ...

Article

Leli  

Richard Keeling

Bone whistle of the Maidu and other native peoples of northern California. It is made from the leg bone of a large bird, a deer or other animal, or local cane. The whistles, from 12 to 20 cm long and 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter (the larger of cane), are usually played in pairs, hence the Kato name tulnok kleyulit (‘whistles tied together’); other names for them include xosa:ng’ay (Hupa); speryspery (Yurok); məpu (Southeastern Pomo); tōka (Patwin); and delni (Wailaki). The bones are bound together with sinew or cord near each end and plugged at one end with pitch. Each tube has a V-shaped hole at or near the centre, with a block of pitch to direct the airstream over the opening. The two whistles produce different notes but are not played melodically; rather, they mark the rhythm of dancing. In ceremonial and secular dances, several men blow them at the same time, producing a rich texture that also includes contrapuntal singing. Historically they were used in shamanistic rituals. ...

Article

John M. Schechter and J. Richard Haefer

Notched flute, a large kena, of the Bolivian Alti Plano, also found in Tarapacá Province, Chile. Called pheta by the Chipaya people, it is made from tokoró, a local cane, with six fingerholes and a thumbhole. The instruments are played in groups to accompany dancing, particularly at the feast of Santiago (July 25) among the Chipaya of the Department of Oruro. The ...

Article

Klisala Harrison

[kingáan, hat’awt’isk]

Terms for whistles and reed instruments of First Nations peoples of the North American Pacific Northwest, including the Kwakwa̲ka̲’wakw (ma̲dzis), Haida (kingáan), Nuuchahnulth, Tlingit, Tsimshian (hat’awt’isk), and Coast Salish. The instruments appear with and without fingerholes and can be blown by mouth or mechanically. The mouth-blown whistles appear in three forms: stopped pipes, half-stopped pipes, and open pipes. Some older literature and museum catalogues use the term sk’a’na to denote Haida (Xa’ida, Skittagetan) single- and multiple-pipe whistles. The mouth-blown reed instruments include single reeds, double reeds, retreating reeds, and ribbon reeds.

(1) Mouth-blown whistles with stopped pipes have from one to six sounding chambers and fundamental pitches. The whistles are carved from straight-grained wood, preferably red cedar or spruce. Generally the whistle is oval or cylindrical; sometimes it is pear-shaped, square (having a flat face and a rounded back), or a flattened, truncated cone. A block of wood is split lengthwise along the grain. One of the resulting halves is hollowed so that its walls are very thin. In it is carved the whistle’s sounding chamber or chambers, but a small block is left uncarved at its lower end (thus stopping the pipe), as is a larger block at the upper end (for the embouchure). The other half, which will form the top side of the whistle, is hollowed in the same way, but not so deeply. An airway for the embouchure is then carved, and sometimes a lip on the outside at the embouchure opening. A mouth with an edge like that of a recorder, commonly rectangular, or a crescent, circle, or irregular shape, is cut in the top side. The mouth, in the case of a whistle with one sounding chamber, is often near the embouchure. In whistles with more than one chamber, a mouth for each is located near the top, middle, or end of the whistle. The two halves generally fit together airtight without gluing; they are bound together in one or more places with split spruce root or shredded cedar bark, or rarely with animal sinew that is painted or left in its natural form. Modern binding materials include string, gauze, and cloth. If the wood dries and shrinks over time, the joint can be made airtight again by applying resin. Paper is applied on the sides of some modern instruments....

Article

Paula Conlon

[‘Doc’ Tate ]

(b Fletcher, OK, July 3, 1932; d Lawton, OK, March 5, 1996). Native American (Comanche) maker and player of juniper flutes. He attended the Fort Sill Indian School and Haskell Indian Institute. He learned flute making from the Kiowa maker Belo Cozad (1864–1950) and the Lakota maker Richard Fool Bull (1887–1976). He used the traditional method of splitting the wood, carving the channel, boring the holes, and inserting the plug, then gluing the flute back together with sap, binding it with leather thongs, and attaching the external block. His first album, Indian Flute Songs from Comanche Land (NAM 401C, n.d.), was the first commercial recording consisting entirely of music for solo Indian flute. He introduced new playing techniques, including cross-fingerings to extend the range, and extending the warbling sound on the lowest tone to all the available pitches, thus expanding the flute’s repertoire and contributing to its revival in the latter 20th century. Tate (the English name given to him) was recognized as a National Heritage Fellow in ...

Article

Niçude  

Mary Riemer-Weller

(Omaha: ‘whistle’)

Bone whistle of the Omaha Indians of the central Plains of the USA. It is made from the wing bone of an eagle and is about 15 cm long, and it has a V-shaped flue opening in the centre but no fingerholes. It produces only one shrill note which, when played repeatedly, was said to imitate an eagle’s call. The whistle was played during parts of the ...

Article

Chad Stephen Hamill

Whistle of the Salish Indians of the Columbia Plateau. 10 to 15 cm long, it can be made from various hollow dry creek weeds, cow parsnip stalk, willow or elder wood, the ulna bone of a bald eagle, or the leg or wing bone of a crane or similar wading bird. The proximal end is cut at a 45-degree angle to rest against the lower lip of the player. A wedge-shaped hole is cut on the side opposite the angled cut and partially filled with pine pitch to direct the air to the lower edge of the cut. It produces a single sound. Whistles are used by young boys and men for personal enjoyment. The term ...

Article

Richard Moyle

Nose flute of Hawaii. It is a tube of thin-walled native Hawaiian bamboo, traditionally between 25 and 50 cm long, with a nose hole cut at an angle below the upper end, closed by a node. Two or three fingerholes penetrate the tube towards the open end. The traditional way of playing the flute was to hold it with the right thumb and forefinger and use the rest of the fingers of the same hand to cover the holes. The left thumb was used to hold the left nostril closed with the left hand cupped over or under the flute. Like the ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Generic term for Anglo instruments used by the Tohono O’odham (Papago) Indians of Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora, Mexico. Piastakuḍ (‘fiesta thing’) refers to those instruments used to perform waila (social dance music; from the Spanish bailar, called ‘chicken scratch’ by Anglos) and pascola dance tunes. They include the gi:dal (guitar), kuikud (flute, saxophone, trumpet, or clarinet), wi:olin (violin), a:lpa (harp), wañamdam (accordian), and tamblo (drum). In the mid-19th century the O’odham began to borrow polka, schottische, and two-step tunes played by guitar, saxophone, accordion, and drums from nearby Anglo communities and incorporate them within their all-night keihina social dance, imparting to them the O’odham concepts of traditional ñe’i (song), that is, assigning specific songs to certain portions of the dance cycle: sundown songs, midnight songs, sunrise songs. O’odham distinctly consider these songs and instruments as their own and not as Anglo music. In like manner, pascola, with harp and violin, was borrowed from their neighbouring Yaqui Indians....

Article

Susan M. Taffe Reed and Glen Jacobs

Generic term for an ‘object that is blown into’, used by the Munsee Indians of the Eastern Woodlands in North America; their relatives the Unami use the word ahpikòn. Known historically as the Lenape or Delaware Indians, the Unami and Munsee have bone flutes (waxkanii-pootaatiikanushal), reed flutes (kweenaskwii-pootaatiikanushal), and wooden flutes (xwusii-pootaatiikanushal), all of which are personal instruments.

The waxkanii-pootaatiikanushal is made of bird bones, though other animal bones can be used. It is a small, very high-pitched whistle without fingerholes. Sometimes called a war dance whistle, it is worn on a necklace by a man who blows into it while dancing. Larger types might have fingerholes. Little is known about the historical kweenaskwii-pootaatiikanushal though it was probably similar in construction.

The xwusii-pootaatiikanushal is a double-chambered duct flute made from eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), a lightweight, fragrant, pinkish to brownish-red softwood that has sacred associations in Delaware cultures. Before harvesting the wood, the maker offers tobacco to the tree. A piece of cedar approximately 5 cm in diameter and 45 to 60 cm long, roughly measured from the player’s elbow to his fingertips, is selected and the bark is removed and the wood split in half. Hickory or other hardwood coals are placed on the inner side of the split pieces and blown on to begin hollowing each half. Mud is smeared on the edges of the wood to protect it from being burnt. The charred wood is scraped away and this process is repeated until both halves are sufficiently concave to make a wide, open chamber. The two halves are glued together by a mixture of resinous pine tree sap with bear grease, traditionally heated in a mussel shell. Leather strips are tied at intervals around the assembled body to reinforce it and serve as decoration....

Article

J. Richard Haefer

[sepú•nmeʔs mít’p]

End-blown courting flute of the Nez Percé (Sahaptian) people of Idaho. It is made from an elderberry stalk about 35 to 40 cm long and 3 to 4 cm in diameter, with the pith removed. There are six fingerholes plus a seventh hole said to make the sound ‘sweeter’ and also to relate the instrument to the seven-drum religion. A plug made from pitch is placed inside an opening near the proximal end. The opening is covered with a wooden block tied on with animal hide and long hair wraps; the block forms an external duct and symbolizes the wedding of a couple resulting from the playing of the flute....

Article

J. Richard Haefer

[sikwǝmǝn]

Bone whistle of the Flathead Indians of Montana, USA. It is made from a wing or leg bone of an eagle or other large bird and has no fingerholes. It is used for signalling and is associated with personal songs, guardian spirits songs, and sun dance songs. Duct flutes (...

Article

Mary Riemer-Weller

Large wooden courting flute of the Sioux Indians of the northern Plains area of the USA. The name is derived from sĭyo (‘prairie chicken’) and tanka (‘great’ or ‘large’). This flute typifies a wide variety of such instruments used by native peoples throughout the USA and Canada, including among others the Iroquois ká’keeta’, Ojibwa bibigwan, Omaha niçude tunga, Cheyenne kahamaxé tahpeno, Flathead chłkhwa (cłxwa), Apache sul, Navajo dilnih, O’odham wa:p kuikuḍ, Yuman wĭlwĭl’tĕlhuku’p, Creek fīpa, and Yuchi lhokan’. Although occasional reference is made to the use of the flute in ceremonies and as a warning or war signal, it was usually played by young men for serenading and courting women, and for self entertainment.

It is normally made of wood or cane, with an external duct. No two instruments are identical. Plains flutes are commonly made of red cedar, although other straight-grained woods such as box-elder, ash, sumac, elderberry, redwood, osage orange, and fir are also used in the Plains–Plateau area; cane flutes are made in the southwest. Flutes have also been made from gun barrels and nickel tubing. The instruments are generally about 3 to 5 cm in diameter and 45 to 65 cm long (28 cm among the Northern Ute) A typical Plains flute is made from a straight section of wood split lengthwise and hollowed to form a cylindrical bore. A block is left inside, creating a partition between the upper and lower chambers. The upper chamber is proportionally shorter (1:4) than the lower. On the front surface a small hole is cut in each chamber, just above and below the partition. The surface around the holes is made flat and smooth and a thin wooden or lead plate is laid over it. A rectangular hole in the plate is cut exactly over the two holes in the cylinder. A wooden block or saddle, flat on the underside and carved on top according to the maker’s tradition, is tied over the plate. Air blown into the end of the upper chamber flattens into a thin stream as it passes out of the upper hole and between the partition and the plate. Entering the lower chamber, the airstream impinges on the sharp edge or lip of the plate and divides. Most of the air enters the body of the flute, while the surplus escapes from underneath the block, which has been positioned to leave the second hole partially uncovered....

Article

Double-reed aerophone of the Haida and other peoples of British Columbia. In some types the massive blades of the reed are inserted in the narrow end of a conical wooden (typically cedar) tube and fully enclosed by a large tapered cap, into which the player blows. In other types the reed is exposed. The name is also applied to wooden whistles of British Columbia, sometimes also called ‘dance whistles’; the tapered body is halved lengthwise, hollowed, and carved to form the windway, and reassembled with pitch and twine or split spruce root binding....