Thursday, February 23, 2006

NAF Playing Tip #9: Alternative Fingerings

The basic pentatonic scale has been posted many times, on many websites. My favorite website for listing scales and explaining the various fingerings is Flute Tree.

There are several alternative fingerings for the octave note on the moderm Native American flute. These alternatives are a result of divergent flute making/tuning practices, most of which have a historical origin. Neither is better or worse than the other, however it is important to ask a flutemaker how he/she designed a flute before you purchase a flute.

There are several flutemakers who use an alternative fingering for the flute. The most notable of this style of flutemaker include Ken Light (Amon Olorin Flutes), Scott Loomis (Wind’s Song Flutes) and Butch Hall (Butch Hall Flutes). The notable thing about this variable fingeringis that these flutemakers strive to create flutes with equally spaced finger holes that are all the same diameter. As a result of the physics of making flutes in this style, an alternative fingering is required. These flutes will always be six-hole flutes. There are three additional variations for the Position 6 note shown below:

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