Native American Flute History


 Native American Flutes, sometimes called American Indian flutes, date back to flutes made of bone,  then proceeded to be constructed out of cedar wood by the Plains Tribes

The juniper family of trees, including cedar, was used to make the earliest flutes. Flutes were possibly constructed out of the Arizona cypress, the Utah juniper, or the Rocky Mountain juniper, but definitely out of the eastern red cedar.

The length of the branch used was crucial in determining the overall pitch desired in the flute being made. The distance between the holes on the flute determines the musical scale that the flute would play, which originally was a process of trial and error to achieve the desired order of notes. Generally speaking, longer and larger flutes were lower in pitch, while shorter and smaller flutes were higher in pitch.

Native American flutes are still made today in a manner used long ago. A desirable piece of wood is center bored and rounded with a tapered end. The flute is divided into 2 chambers with a wall in the middle.which forces the air from 1 chamber up through a slot in the top where a block redirects the air through another slot down into the other chamber which creates the sound.. 

The Native American Flute flute is then tuned by boring holes in the top to be covered by fingers to create multiple notes. Native American flutes have either 5 or 6 holes. The only difference is the third hole from the top on a 6 hole flute is missing from a 5 hole and 6 hole flutes now dominate as more note variations are possible. Windpony flutes have 6 holes which is the style Robert Windpony uses for his performances.

Traditional Native American flutes are tuned in minor scale which creates the unique sound. The spacing and size of the tuning holes along with the bore size determines the key of the flute. The bigger the bore and the greater the distance between tuning holes the lower the key.

Native American flutes have a tuning range from low A to high E, however the usual range is low C to High C with the middle ranges of F# up to high A with G in the middle  being the most popular. keys. 

An simple way to decide which of the most popular keys flute to buy is: F# creates the most traditional sound, G is most versatile and High A is shortest and easiest to play, especially for players with small hands.

Windpony Native American style flutes are crafted in Utah, USA