Friday, May 05, 2006

Native American Flute compositions

I haven't posted much on the topic of the availability of compositions for the Native American Flute. However, my first experience of actually composing for the Native American Flute and another instrument over the last couple weeks has been an interesting one.

My teaching style and philosophy for the last 6 years has been to enable my students to "play from the heart". I took my requisite piano lessons in my early years and spent many years in choir during my youth. This is where I learned to read music. But the Native American Flute appealed to me for the same reason it appeals to many of you, and that is it's amazing ease for improvization.
I have a tremendous respect for John Vames and his books/coursework on learning to play the Native American Flute from a musical theory perspective. But when it comes down to it, I haven't found much, if any music written for the Native American Flute and other instruments, other than Nakai Tab.

Mary Youngblood is one of my inspirations and one of my favorite flute players. When her album "Beneath the Raven Moon" came out and I played it in my CD player the first time, I was entranced by the melody on the song: "And we can love". This song includes flute and strings. I spent the next couple of hours decomposing and learning the melody for that tune. When Mary published the songbook for this album, I was excited... I wanted the whole song, including the strings so that I might be able to play it with a quartet at some point. But alas, the song book included the melody but no string transcription. I love Mary, I love this song, but I am still looking for the opportunity to play with strings (which I love).

This weekend I am playing a duet during church services. A composition for Native American Flute and piano which I arranged to the melody for "Zuni Sunrise". I've been wanting to play a flute/piano duet for a long time and this was my opportunity to compose. Leveraging the application PrintMusic and my Alesis QS6 keyboard, I sat down one evening a few weeks ago and let my muse take over. It was a wonderful exercise, something which I had never done before. Yesterday, the pianist and I practiced the song for first time together. What an amazing experience to hear your own composition (for more than one instrument) come to life for the first time. I'll post the recording of the song from the service at a later date.

Yesterday, I also received a mailing from JP-Publications. It's a catalog of Native American flute compositions for flute and other instruments. They are all written by James Pellerite. If you'd like to learn more about this catalog of music scores check out his website.

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