Thursday, June 29, 2006

Loping Wolf Flute Circle this Sunday, July 2nd

I am on the road at the moment, so I can't post this to the NCFC calendar, but I wanted to remind everyone that the Loping Wolf Flute Clan will be hosting a flute circle this coming weekend.

Loping Wolf Flute Circle officially a NCFC Clan!!

Did I mention that we made the formal decision to adopt this wolf pack officially into the NCFC?
It's true. Dan and Sheree have shown such an enthusiast and generous spirit in their creation and coordination of the Loping Wolf Flute Circle. We've just naturally been brought together over the last couple of months.
This decision comes quite naturally for me. While we've struggled to find new leadership for the Capitol Clan over the last couple of years, and I was overly ambitious in trying to initiate the Gold Country Clan while commuting to the bay area 3-5 days a week and running things at NCFC Central. Things have not just gelled for the fluties in the greater Sacramento and foothills area. So when Dan, Sheree, Dick and Sue came along to fill a void with natural leadership, we decided to let the spirit guide where it appeared we were all headed.
So from this point forward, we are officially merging the Capitol Clan, the Gold Country Clan and the Loping Wolf Flute circle into the Loping Wolf Clan of the NCFC!! Dan DiDicco will be the official leader for the clan, but it's really a team effort with both Dan and Sheree. You can check out the Loping Wolf Clan happenings at:

So if have some free time on Sunday, please stop by for some fun flute playing.

The details

When: Sunday, July 2nd. Noon - ???
What to bring: Flutes and other musical instruments. Potluck dish and something to BBQ.
Where: Lake of the Pines, near Auburn CA
How: RSVP by sending an email to Dan DiCicco: flutecircle AT lopingwolf DOT com
Dan will add you to the gate list and send you directions directly.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Soon You May Have To Pay For Every Time Your Computer Caches A Song Copy

I found an interesting article about some pending legislation that would add new ways for copyright holders to enforce licensing agreements on music:

"It would require all incidental copies of music to be licensed separately from the originating copy. Even copies of songs that are cached in your computer's memory or buffered over a network would need yet another license.

INAFA Conference Volunteers page online

We just posted a webpage highlighting the volunteer opportunities at the upcoming INAFA Conference in Belmont, CA (in the Bay Area). On this webpage, you'll find a listing of all of the tasks for which we need some volunteer help during the week of the INAFA Conference. As host circle, we committed to helping make this event happen.

As a thank you to our volunteers, we will have a "volunteers raffle" at the end of the INAFA event. The volunteers webpage highlights the 'thank you' prizes. As a volunteer, you will earn a raffle ticket for each hour which you volunteer and work at the event.

If you happen to be a vendor reading this, we'd like to encourage you to donate a prize to the volunteer raffle. Contact Mike Oitzman: ncfc AT naflute DOT com

Monday, June 26, 2006

Final days to Register for INAFA Conference

If you haven't done so already, the last day to register for the 2006 INAFA Conference for the $50 registration fee is this FRIDAY, June 30th. After that you can still register on the first day of the conference for $75 cash. By the way, the evening concert ticket prices for the INAFA Conference have been set, the price will be $15 per person.
I know several local bay area folks who have to work and can't attend the Thursday/Friday workshops, but would like to attend the evening concert. At the $15 concert ticket price, it might be worth registering for the $50 and save $10 bucks, and still get to attend the workshops and hang out on Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday Fun: Pianolina

I've got something fun and entirely unflute related for you today. However, it is still musical... and those of you who know me, you know I love to experiment with anything that makes sound.
So check this out, it's an online, experimental piano interface called Pianolina. You get to experiment with sound and control the piano in a way you've never done before.
It takes a while to get the hang of, but the results are pretty cool. Just keep clicking on stuff until you figure it out. Hit the reset button on the interface to start over...

oh yeah, and if you find a melody that you like, try playing your flute along with it...

here's the link:

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Playing TIp #23: Flute Keys

In general, a key or scale is a set of notes that sound consonant with one another and from which the bulk of the notes in a song are chosen. In modern western music theory, this pool of notes is defined by partitioning an octave into 12 equally spaced notes (defined as a half step) between any two neighboring octaves. It’s not the intent of this posting to dive deeply into musical theory, however it is important to understand a few fundamentals of musical notation in order to have a reference for some subsequent discussion. Why is this important? One of the most common questions for new flute player is: What is the key of my flute? This discussion will help answer that question.

Basic Notes

For lack of any better reason in the organization of these possible notes, each note has been assigned a letter name from A to G. For example, all of the white keys on a piano are assigned one of these letters repetitively in order from A to G. In addition, there is also the concept that some notes are slightly higher or lower than any given note. When a note is slightly higher, it is called a “sharp” and denoted with the symbol: #. Likewise, when a note is slightly lower, it is called a “flat” and denoted with the symbol: b (lowercase B). All of the black keys on a piano are designated as sharps or flats. These notes can alternatively be called either the sharp of the note immediately below it, or the flat of the note immediately above it**

Here is the complete list of these 12 notes, in order:
A, A#(Bb), B, C, C#(Db), D, D#(Eb), E, F, F#(Gb), G, G#(Ab)

The bottom line is that the fundamental note (the note played with all holes covered) of your flute is one of these twelve notes, and the subsequent scale produced by the other holes on the flute will be in a scale related to this fundamental note. There are many, many types of scales that can be played on most instruments, however some of these scales are more pleasing to listen to than others. ThIn a future post, I will introduce the pentatonic scale, which has become the scale of choice for most modern Native American Flute makers today, and give you some ideas of the other scales which can be found on your flute.

**In classical musical theory there are some strict guidelines about this rule of assigning sharps and flats, but we won’t concern ourselves with this in this discussion. It’s enough to know that sometimes a note can be called two different things and mean the same thing.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Elysium Calling to join us for the Spring Gathering

I just got confirmation that our friends Garth and Kenneth of Elysium Calling will join us for the evening at Mary Youngblood's house for the annual NCFC Spring Gathering. If you haven't had the chance to hear Garth & Kenneth play live before, you're in for a real treat. We've invited Elysium Calling to play a set of their music as we get things going on stage after dinner. I hear that they're working on some new songs, and they've never been shy about sharing their 'works in progress" with us. Garth will also stay on stage for a while to play improvized guitar with anyone who'd like to step up and play along, applying the concepts and tips that we'll learn at Mary's Improvization workshop earlier in the day. By the way, if you haven't RSVP'd for this event yet, you need to do so now. The workshops are filling up.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mary Youngblood article in Sac Bee

There is a great article/interview in the Sac Bee today with Mary Youngblood. In the article, Mary talks about her transition to include and play more instruments than simply the flute on her CD's. She also talks about her new band: Sisters of the Earth, and the evolution to playing music as a group rather than solo. Sisters of the Earth are playing this weekend at the Cottonwood Wild West Wine and Art Festival in Cottonwood.

The article is currently here:

Thanks to Francesca for passing along this note!!

CD Review: Spirit Romance

I recently purchased the album Spirit Romance which was released this last fall by pianist David Lanz and flutist Gary Stroutsos. These guys are two of my favorite new age artists, and I was really excited to hear them together. David Lanz has been in my CD player since I purchased his album "Christophori's Dream" so many years ago.
I fell in love with Gary's music when he visited Northern California 6 years ago and put on an advanced flute workshop and concert for the NCFC. On this album, Gary plays the Chinese bamboo Xiao, an end-blown Chinese flute which has rarely been recorded outside of China or in non-Chinese music. It's mystical sounding flute, and one which I think that you will enjoy.
The album also features Keith Lowe on acoustic bass, keyboardist John Serrie and Glen Velez on hand drums.
Note that Gary Stroutsos will be on stage in No Cal in August 2006 at the INAFA Convention along with Will Clipman, so those of you who attend the convention will be able to hear him live! You can also download a podcast (or listen to the MP3 file on your computer) of an interview with Gary and David on the Mystic Soundscapes internet radio program.

Even though there is no Native American Flute featured on this album, this album gets heavy rotation in my iPod. This is an excellent album for the office or a nice quiet dinner party.
I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

The incredible piano intro in this song simply floats you away. The melody is what I would call “classic David Lanz”, but when combined with Gary’s flute it’s even more entrancing. A classic.

This is a majestic tune which reminds me of a river trip through a primordial rain forest. Drums by Glen Velez accent the tune nicely. This is one of my favorite tunes on the CD.

Between Worlds
This is an ethereal piano tune, a nice relaxing and drifting melody.

Blue Largo
Great back beat on this one. Glen Velez plays the Eqyptian Riq, a tambourine like instrument that I am struggling to master. The Xiao is featured front and center, demonstrating it’s rich tone along side the piano.

Spirit Romance
The flute leads this song from the beginning. The piano dances with the flute, swirling around and around. Violin adds a nice rounding the song. No matter what I am doing, when this song plays, I have to close my eyes and relax for a moment.

The breathy flute intro on this song will steal your heart. Gary exhibits the breadth of sonic possibilities with the Xaio flute on this solo.

A Distant Light
This is my favorite song on the CD. The interplay of piano and flute on this song are in perfect balance. Glen Velez play the Riq, one of my favorite frame drums, in the classical form. John Serrie provides the background. This song and the next four all blend together on one big long journey.

Dreams of Altair, Contemplation, Compassion
These songs features space musician John Serrie, who also played on the original “Wings to Altair” on Christophori’s Dream. On Compassion the solo Xiao, spiced with just enough “space” is a powerful tune. I really like the long notes of the Xiao here.

The Return
The Return brings the suite to closure, and for the David Lanz fans out there, you get a nice hint of the original inspiration of “Wings to Altair”.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Check out Scott August's Blog

Just a quick shout out to Scott August, who's also been blogging a lot in the last couple month's. If you haven't been checking out his blog, you should:

And by the way, if you don't own any of Scott's CD's, you're missing out on some of the best Native American Flute music out there...

Volunteer Information for INAFA coming soon!


We are in the final week of planning the volunteer needs for the upcoming INAFA Conference in Belmont in August. Once we have the list of volunteer tasks complete and the schedule of days for the volunteer needs, we'll notify everyone who was interested in volunteering. I'll definitely post here when the INAFA volunteer website link is active.

I will tell you that we're planning a "Volunteer Raffle" to say thank you to the volunteers. If you volunteer your time, you'll earn raffle tickets for this raffle to be held on the last day of the conference. If you are vendor/flute maker and you would like to contribute to the INAFA Volunteer Raffle, please send an email to ncfc AT naflute DOT com


Classifieds LIVE on NCFC website

We've initiated the Classifieds section of the NCFC website again. Check it out here:

Here's the simple rules for the classifieds section
  • Non-commercial submission of ads is free for members.
  • Non-member and commercial submissions (i.e. vendors) are $5 per two-week period.
  • Send your text submission, including contact information (max 250 characters) to: classifieds AT naflute DOT com
  • Ad content will be updated/published on the first and third Mondays of the month, and will persist for two weeks, unless a subsequent submission is made prior to the publication date.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

News from the Auburn Confluence Festival

I had a wonderful time on Sunday at the Confluence Festival in Auburn. I joined Dan DiCicco, Sheree DiCicco, Dick & Sue and the rest of the Loping Wolf Flute circle in their flute booth. We talked to folks all afternoon, sold some flutes, played LOTS of flutes and generally had a great time.

This was the first event for the Loping Wolf flute Circle to have a booth, and I think that it was a roaring sucess. Loping Wolf were invited to participate in the opening ceremonies for the event where they played Zuni Sunrise together. Unfoturnately I was unable to make it there early enough to hear them, but everyone said it was wonderful.

In the picture above, you can see Dan DiCicco demostrating a flute for a couple of folks, I didn't see Dan sit down the whole day. We had Mary Youngblood's new CD "Dance with the Wind" for sale, and I finally got my very own copy!! It's awesome. I listened to it all day yesterday at work. Look for a future post where I'll do a review of this CD.

Below you can see picture of the Loping Wolf flute circle and their booth.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Bay Area Museums featuring Native American exhibits

Looking for something to do with friends or relatives visiting the Bay Area this summer?

Check out the following museums with special exhibits:

The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at USB has an exhibit:
Native Californian Cultures on display now Zbutton

SPIRIT SPEAKS: Contemporary and Historic Expressions of Native Peoples, presented by the Marin Arts Council, now through October 7 2006 Zbutton

June 18th: Native Contemporary Arts Festival at
Yerba Buena Gardens Zbutton

American River Confluence Festival Today

If you're near Auburn today, be sure to check out the American River Confluence Festival. The Loping Wolf Flute Circle will be apart of the opening ceremonies and we'll all be hanging out at the Loping Wolf booth, so stop by and say hi and bring your flutes or drums for a little informal jamming.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Weekly Standford drum circle

There's a great drum circle taking place every Friday night at Stanford University now. They welcome other instruments including didjs and Native American Flute (although it can get loud)

Weekly Drum Circle
7:30 pm - 10:00 pm (This event repeats every week, until Tuesday October 31, 2006.)
Event Location: Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden @ Stanford

Stanford University, papua new guinea sculpture garden
Friday nights starts around 7:30pm
louder drumming will end at 10pm
bring a chair seating can be scarce

Santa Teresa Street (off Campus Drive West) and Lomita Drive, near Roble Hall.
From 280 Page Mill Road exit head east left at 2nd traffic light onto junipero serra right at 3rd traffic light onto campus drive west right at 1st stop sign unto santa teresago through one stop sign the sculpture garden is at the corner at the 2nd stop sign at the intersection of santa teresa and lomita drive

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Playing Tip #22: Places to play

You don’t have to look far to find a place to play your flute. However, I’ve found the most inspiring places are those where nature has an influence on my mood. Acoustics is another important consideration, especially as you practice. Don’t be surprised if, while playing in place like a stairwell or hallway, some notes are amplified more than others. It means that the room is “tuned” for the amplitude of the note that you just played. For example the stairwell in my last house was tuned to an “A”, and whenever I hit an “A” note on any of my flutes it this note was naturally amplified.


I think that the Native American Flute is most inspiring to play outside. Whether your inspiration is found in the trees, a robin bouncing along in the grass or the rising moon, nature will speak to you when you play the flute if you open your eyes and ears to it.
When playing outside, it’s important to realize that the wind (any breeze) will affect the ability of the flute to make a sound. If there is enough of a breeze, your flute might not make any sound at all. This is because the breeze blowing across the top of the flute may negate the ability of the air to vibrate effectively within the flute. You can minimize this effect by turning your back to the wind/breeze, but it is impossible to remove all of the wind effects.
Temperature is another important factor. I don’t recommend playing outside in any temperature below about 65º F. As the temperature drops below your body temperature, you experience more dramatic “watering-out” of the flute, to the point where the flute will not make a sound (regardless of whether there is any breeze). It is also important to try to keep your wooden flutes in the temperature range between 65º and 95º (or body temperature). Remember this when traveling with your flutes in the car or backpacking.
Some of the most exciting places that I have played my flute have been caves and canyons where you can experience a natural echo to your playing. If you find yourself in an urban setting, don’t forget that there are a lot of cement canyons and caves to experiment with.

Stairwells & Parking Structures

In the absence of a canyon or cave, a stairwell can produce a pretty exciting natural amplification of your flute. Try it in your office building, or the next time you stay in a hotel. I’ve even taken my flute out and played in a parking garage. Soon you’ll find yourself searching for these interesting acoustic experiences.


Of course I can’t forget to mention one of the man-made caves that we all have in our houses. Interestingly enough, the bathroom is a great place to submit your self to a natural acoustic phenomenon. Just like “singing in the shower” makes us all sound like professional singers, playing your flute in the bathroom is a great acoustic experience. To increase the echo, try taking all of the towels off the towel racks, take the shower curtain down and the bath rug off the floor (if your bathroom is not carpeted). Oh, and did I mention that it also comes equipped with comfortable seating?

What's your favorite place to play? [Leave a comment...]

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Spring Voice of the Circle now online

I posted the Spring 2006 Voice of the Circle newsletter for the NCFC online this morning. Highlights in this newsletter include:
  • INAFA Update
  • Annual NCFC Gathering
  • Vince Redhouse Event
  • New Flutemaker Discount program

Paper versions will be mailed this weekend.

I am still working on new membership badges, but the good news is that we now have a graphic artist who is helping us with artwork for the NCFC. Mary-Ann Myers has volunteered her services for the benefit of the circle. I am working with Mary-Ann to get the artwork completed fo the new badges. A special thanks to Mary-Ann.

Clarification on Butch Hall flute tunings

On a earlier post I mentioned that Butch Hall flutes are typically tuned with an extended scale tuning. This tuning allows the flute to have an extended upper range, but it doesn't use the 'traditional" mode 1/mode 4 fingering.

I wrote Laura Hall an email to inquire about their flutes and fingering and here's what Laura wrote back:

"we make 4 flutes in the "traditional" mode 1/mode 4 tuning: our high Bm Little Bird at $49, our high Am Little Horse at $49, our Gm Le Mita Cola at $55 for spanish cedar (while a few remain in stock), $65 for eastern red cedar (due out of the finish room in 2-3 weeks, and the new standard), and our bass Cm in spanish cedar at $225.

I have often said that the Little Horse is the "Best Flute under $50" - with the traditional tuning, making it an excellent investment as an entry level instrument for a beginning flute player. I now have to add the Little Bird to that same category, although I would recommend the Little Horse over the Little Bird since it's in the more common key of A.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tentative INAFA Conference Schedule now online

INAFA has posted the tentative schedule for the upcoming convention in August. It includes the workshops and evening concert schedule. Check it out online:

Here's the evening concert schedule:

Tickets will be avaiable each evening on a first come first served basis. We don't have evening concert ticket prices yet, but you might be better off just purchasing the $50 registration fee which includes all the evening concerts. That way you're guaranteed a seat!!

Wed, August 2:
- Xavier Quijas Yxayotl
- Charles Littleleaf
- Ash Dargan with Jeremy Donovan

Thursday, August 3:
- Evren Ozan
- The Vince Redhouse Group
- Peter Phippen with Jonathan Hull and Jared Pool

Friday, August 4:
- Gary Stroutsos with Will Clipman
- Michael Graham Allen (Coyote Oldman)
- Mark Holland with Autumn’s Child

Saturday, August 5:
- Hovia Edwards
- Jeff Ball
- R. Carlos Nakai

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Don't miss: Berkeley World Music Festival

This weekend, June 3-4, 2006 in Berkeley, it looks like there will be non-stop world music going on all around town. And it's all free!

Don't miss Steven Kent on didjeridoo, if you happen to see him.

Check it out:

NCFC Calendar updated!

We've just added the second half of the 2006 Northern California Flute Circle calendar of events (June - Dec) to the NCFC Calendar. Log on to check out what's happening in the flute world for Northern California and beyond.

Mary Youngblood has a new Myspace website

Mary Youngblood has a new myspace website at:
You can listen to streaming music off of her latest album "Dance with the wind"

Playing tip #21: Composition

This is the sixth exercise in the series of duet exercises, designed to provide you with some new ideas when playing with another flute player. This is an intermediate exercise, so if you are a beginner, I recommend that you start with the earlier exercises posted on prior weeks playing tips.


This exercise builds on the ideas introduced in the prior exercises. The variable in this exercise is that both flute players will harmonize by playing different, but harmonious, phrases at the same time. There are not many rules to this exercise but the key to success is establishing one player as the lead and the other player as harmony. These roles can be switched (deliberately) during the course of the song. If you have been following along with the prior exercises over the last twomonth'ss, then you are ready for this.

Tip #1

Stay in the pentatonic scale and occasionally have both players linger together on the same note, as this is a good place to switch roles or bring your independent paths together for a moment.

Tip #2

Having one player establish the general theme to the song is a good practice. Bouncing around this theme or phrase is good way to keep things organized and in a frame of reference that is easier to harmonize with.

Tip #3

When you first attempt this with a new player, be sure to face each other and watch each others eyes. The subtle communication without words is a good watch to pass the lead role between each other. A nod or a wink is a one way to pass the lead.

Tip #4

This is as much a listening exercise as it is a playing exercise. Harmony can only be created when you are in sync with the other player and when you know your instrument well. Make sure that you listen to what the other player is playing, listen the pattern they are playing and try to anticipate where they are going.

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