Thursday, December 29, 2005

Back to it

I am back from holiday! I appologize for the lack of content the last few weeks, but the holidays had my mind elsewhere. I hope that you've had a wonderful holiday season.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Pictures from the Bay Clan Holiday Concert

Here's a few pictures from the Bay Clan Holiday Concert at Stanford Childrens Hospital. From the reports that I heard, the kids had a great time and the parents and staff really appreciated the music. Kudos to the bay clan members for their inspiration to give back to the community during this holiday season. In the first picture, Scott is playing flute while Bob sits and listens for a moment.

In this second picture, Martin is playing flute while Tess drums and Frankie gets ready to play the didj.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Doc Tate Nevaquaya: Comanche Flute Music

If you are looking for a sample of some of the earliest recorded "modern" Native American Flute music, I highly recommend this recording by Doc Tate Nevaquaya. I purchased a copy of the record on eBay a few years ago and I love it. But it's not digital and so I can put it in my iPod. However, you can purchase a CD from Smithsonian Folkways recordings. This album was recorded in 1977 and the best part (I think) is the introductions which Doc Tate does for each track. He tells a story about the song or learning to play the flute and then plays the song.
His style is unlike anything which you will hear in today's recording/performing Native American Flute artists, but it's like stepping back into the past and hearing what the original songs must have been stylized like.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Wed., Dec. 21. 7:30 - 9 PM.with Barbara Druker.

Oakland, CA (near Rockridge). Easy freeway access.
7:15 PM doors open.
7:30 Opening Ceremony begins promptly.
$15.00 contribution.

Join us in sacred circle to honor the birthing of the New Solar Year, on this shortest day and longest night of 2005. Through drumming, chanting, andritual, we will celebrate the return of the Sun, and the rebirth of Light,Hope and Renewal within ourselves and the world. We will drum away what needs to be released, and drum in what needs to be reborn for empowerment and joy in 2006.

NO DRUMMING EXPERIENCE NECESSARY. Small block drums and rattles provided, or bring yours. Optional: bring floor cushion or small chair.

RSVP for location and driving directions.
Please note: cats live here. Shoes left inside door; wear warm socks.

BARBARA DRUKER, MSW, LCSW is a drum circle facilitator, ritual leader,Certified Professional Life Coach and Licensed Psychotherapist. Her work empowers people to live their true rhythms, reduce stress, restore balance and zest, and renew creativity. She presents programs in organizations, wellness centers, educational settings, conferences, retreats, and is available for your special event.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, see, or contact Barbara at: rhythmzest AT earthlink DOT net

Friday, December 09, 2005

Comments now enabled

I've enabled the "comments" feature on the blog. That means that you get to participate in the discussion now! It took a little bit of HTML crafting to get it working, it probably would have been easier to enable comments in the template before I started adding all the customization to the left column, but I learned a bit more in the process so all is well.

To use the comments feature, you simply need to click on "Post a Comment" after any of the posts and leave a comment (including historical posts). You can comment anonymously, but I'd appreciate it if you leave at least a pseudonym. I'll delete any comments that have inappropriate language (this is PG rated blog), so keep it clean...

I also added a new feature in the left column "what's in my CD player" which I'll change as I listen to new music/CD's.

Native American Indian Traditional Code of Ethics

I discovered a very well organized overview of Native American Indian Tradition Code of Ethics on the website of Sakoieta' Widrick. You can see the complete list by clicking on the link above. I printed out the page and put it up on the wall in my office, but the one item on the list that spoke to me today was:
"Listen to and follow the guidance given to your heart. Expect guidance to come in many forms; in prayer, in dreams, in times of quiet solitude, and in the words and deeds of wise Elders and friends.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

NAF Playing Tip #5: A Note’s Life

Before we can talk about ornamentation, it’s important to understand the dynamics of a note as it comes out of the flute. Starting from this point will allow us to better understand how the various ornamentation techniques work to modify the life of a note.
Just like our lives have a beginning, middle and an end, each note lives its life in the same way. There are some simple terms that describe the different periods of a note’s life (see Figure 1). The initial part of a note’s life is called the Attack; this period is from the point at which you start blowing until the note reaches full volume. The middle part of the note’s life is called the Sustain and this lasts from the end of the attack, until the beginning of the last part of the note that is called the Decay. The Decay is the period in which the note drops in volume until the sound stops. The Decay can anything from a long, slow decrease in volume to a very quick drop (or stopping) of the sound. Many times, the Sustain and Decay will overlap and it may be difficult to define the exact transition from Sustain to the Decay. We'll use these terms to help define the different ornamentation techniques that make this instrument produce such beautiful music.

Figure 1 - Life of a Note (Envelope)

Sustaining a note
The length of the note is simply controlled by how long you blow the note. It starts from the beginning of the attack until the end of the decay. Blow for a short time and you have a short note, blow for a long time and you have long note. Don’t forget that the length of the note is the one of the most important variables that you have in composing interesting music.

Volume Control
The volume of the note is controlled by how hard you blow into the flute. Blow hard and the note will be loud. Blow soft and the note will be quiet. If you blow too hard, you will likely produce a high-pitched squeal, this is called overblowing (we'll take about Overblowing in a future post) and is not desirable unless you do it on purpose.

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This Playing Tip is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Holiday Gift Guide: Winter Dreams CD

If you're looking for a great 'classic' Native American Flute Christmas CD, I highly recommend Winter Dreams by R. Carlos Nakai and William Eaton. I just pulled out my holiday music collection to get into the holiday spirit and I always love this CD. The CD features some classic Christmas melodies arranged for the Native American flute and stringed instruments. I would say guitar, except that William Eaton doesn't play your average guitar. He is one of the world's greatest designers and builders of unique stringed instruments. Many of his instuments have 30+ strings on them which makes it sound like there is more than one guitarist playing. Of course I don't need to say anything about Nakai's skill on the Native American Flute, it's pure magic. This is an instrumental CD, and it's one that I am sure will remain at the top of your holiday music hitlist (or even year round).

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

New Peter Mayer Christmas CD Coming

I just heard from Mark Holland that the new Peter Mayer Christmas CD will be available within the the next week. The name of the new CD is "Echos of the Season" and features the following folks: Jim Mayer on bass, R. Scott Bryan on percussion, Mark Holland on flute, Emily Randle on violin, Melissa Streuli on violin, Gary Hodges on cello, as well as guest appearances from Mac McAnally on vocals and guitar, Roger Guth on drums, Chris Walters on piano, Jon Nellen on tabla, as well as Tina Gullickson and Nadirah Shakoor on vocals. You can find more information, including a complete track listing on Peter's Website.
Mark and Peter collaborate on each others music, in fact Mark is on tour through December 18th with Peter's Stars and Promises tour. Mark plays Native American flute on Peter's CD's and Peter plays guitar on Mark's CD's. Peter is a member of August Child. Mark had mentioned the upcoming Christmas CD when he was out on tour this fall.

To get a taste of Peter's music you can download the track "Faith in Angels" off of Peter's latest album Musicbox from Peter's website . Faith in Angels is a great tune, with a rock feel with acoustic and electric guitar, bass and drums. I can't admit to listening to much of Peter's music outside of Autumn's Child, but I sure love his guitar playing on Authumn's Child albums.

Monday, December 05, 2005

FREE: Stanford Lectures and music on iTunes

I discovered some very cool content on iTunes, published by Stanford University. Stanford is experimenting with the idea of publishing content on iTunes, since the majority of the student population has iPods or other MP3 music players. You do need to have iTunes installed on your PC or MAC, but you don't need an iPod to listen to the content, you can listen to the content through iTunes on you computer. Stanford is publishing faculty lectures, featrured speakers, keynote presentations, school sporting events and student produced music on iTunes. And the best part is that it's all free!!
In the music department, Stanford Chamber Chorale and Orchestra is featured this month with a Christmas music theme. There are 12 tracks of Christmas songs that you can download for free. You can also download and listen to student produced tracks.
Check it out here.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

On the Red Road at the Marin Museum

This is a fundraiser for the Marin Museum of the American Indian. $25 donation requested. It is a photographic essay depicting the cultural expression of America's first people. I haven't attended it yet, but I thought that I would post this for others who may happen through Marin this holiday season. If you get a chance to visit the exhibit, drop me a line telling me about your experience. More info here.

Friday, December 02, 2005

REMINDER: Elysium Calling at Borders

Just a reminder that Garth and Kenneth of Elysium Calling will be playing live at several Borders Bookstores tonight and tomorrow. If you're anywhere near Stockton or Modesto, it's worth the drive to hear these guys live.

Friday, December 2nd, 2005
Borders Books and Music
8-10 PM
10776 Trinity Parkway, Stockton CA 95219 209-951-2226
Price: Free

Saturday, December 3rd, 2005
Borders Books and Music
8-10 PM
3900 Sisk Rd., Modesto CA 95656 209-543-6095
Price: Free

Boycott SONY for Christmas...

I am adding my voice to the boycott of SONY products this year after their debacle with the CD Digital Rights Management software (which I discussed in a previous blog). This has been an example were the "blogsphere" influenced the corporate world and has made a real difference in the consumer experience. So I am urging you to forgo the purchases of SONY products this season.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

NAF Playing Tip #4: Whisper don't Shout into the flute

I realized that it's been a while since I posted a playing tip, and it's one of the key features that I wanted to keep up with posting on this this blog. So with this post, I am going to get back to the plan of posting a new playing tip every Thursday...

For new players, one of the first things to learn is how to control your breath for every note on the flute. You quickly learn that the least forgiving note on any flute is the fundamental, the note played with all the holes covered. In other words, the fundamental note is the easiest note to squeak or overblow when playing it. The key to not squeaking the fundamental is in controlling the amount of air that you blow when playing the fundamental note. I've found that the simplest trick for beginners to quickly get over this is to think "Whisper" don't "Shout" when playing the fundamental note (or any note that's being overblown). Most folks get this idea right away and are quickly on the road to controlling their breath on the fundamental.

As an exercise, you should find the 'squeaking point' for every note on your flute (and do it for each of the flute that you own). Some notes will squeak (or overblow) easier than others. Some won't overblow at all. Once you've mastered the breath control to play the scale without squeaking, you can go on to the next step of learning to use the overblow (the squeak) as an ornamentation technique. More on that in a future posting.

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This Playing Tip is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.