The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #61733   Message #996877
Posted By: JohnInKansas
05-Aug-03 - 01:04 AM
Thread Name: Jacob's Wooden Flutes
Subject: RE: Jacob's Wooden Flutes
The NA "Love Flute" tradition requires that the young (male, usually) suitor make his own flute. Tuning to any scale is not generally attempted. The notes produced are "whatever happens" with the holes the builder makes.

The suitor then composes his own "love song" using whatever tones his individual flute can produce - and hopefully impresses the object of his courtship sufficiently to induce her to run off to his tepee and become his mate.

The courting tunes created in the traditional manner are unique to each player and his own unique instrument, and cannot generally be played "authentically" on a typical "westernized" instrument with a uniform (pentatonic, or otherwise) scale. Similarly, the authentic NA "Love Flute" can not generally be used to play "the tunes we know" satisfactorily.

Aside from the courtship thing, some NA Shamans use flute music in ritual - and again, compose unique "tunes" suited to their individual, unique instrument. The Shaman did not play "Turkey in the Straw" at my wedding ceremony (although that may be what the goat and rooster were singing in the background).

Some makers have attempted to adapt the "primitive" construction of the traditional NA flutes to instruments with more-or-less "westernized" scales. My own feeling is that anyone who wants to play "westernized tunes" would be better off with a nice Irish flute.

My native friends are somewhat divided on whether the "commercial" Love Flutes show respect and appreciation for native traditions, or are a rip-off and "callous bastardization" of their traditions. Respect for the tradition would not try to force western scales from an authentic instrument - IMHO.