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Willow Flute
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Author:  Innocent Bystander [ Sat Oct 20, 2007 1:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Willow Flute

No, not a flute made out of Willow Wood, but a Willow Flute.
I've just acquired one, for the princely sum of Eight Pound Sterling (say 15 Dollars American).

It is a plastic tube, about two and a half feet long, squashed (but not closed) at one end. The other end has a wooden fipple: but it is just a plug with a scoop out of it. A chisel cut in the tube at the end of the fipple gives the whistle.

With various strength of blow and covering the end or not, you can get two octaves out of it, maybe three. But it's not the formal scale we know: it's the "nature scale" with a raised fourth. (it says here...)

I got mine from a bloke called Corwen, at the Halowe'en Festival in Mile End in London. He has a website

Apparently it's called a salgflojt in Sweden, seljefloyte in Norwegian, and Pajupilli in Finnish.

I'm itching to have a go at making my own! :twisted:

Author:  Innocent Bystander [ Tue Oct 23, 2007 5:50 am ]
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Author:  I.D.10-t [ Tue Oct 23, 2007 8:32 am ]
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I just wish I could find some sound clips of the thing.
The Naturinstrumenter website has one of the flutes that they make, and I heard a clip of frifot, but that was about it. Being a just intonation instrument, it probably is difficult to find anything but solo parts.

I have wondered what traditional tunes would be played on it. The bugle has a similar limitation to it's notes and has had pieces written for it, I wonder if the same is true for the Willow flute.

Author:  Innocent Bystander [ Tue Oct 23, 2007 9:01 am ]
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I don't think you could play a tune that you could write down as stave.

Or at least, I don't think I could. Yet.

I'm still getting to grips with mine. I can play recogniseable groups of notes, but the thing is so sensitive to the air pressure that you can jump four notes (at raised fourth intervals) in one very short breath if you are not very careful indeed. I certainly haven't managed to play anything like a scale. I have managed to produce some melodic sounds on it that I like.

But I had terrible trouble with ocarinas, and I know how to approach them now.

I have a bunch of websites from the place I got this, but so far I haven't explored them and I've yet to go through that very interesting document from the other topic.

If I find a sound clip I'll post it or link. I might even do one myself, but don't hold your breath. :wink:

Author:  Innocent Bystander [ Tue Oct 23, 2007 9:14 am ]
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Some clips HERE - click on "Historical Music".

Author:  I.D.10-t [ Tue Oct 23, 2007 9:28 am ]
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Innocent Bystander wrote:
I don't think you could play a tune that you could write down as stave.

Or at least, I don't think I could. Yet.

From a quick search the bugle has the ability to play (from low to high)

C G C E G Bb C

And the willow flute can play

C G C E G Bb C D E F G Ab Bb B C

It seems that the flute is usually not played in the lowest octave, so the notes in bold are the ones that would be played to cover the bugle scale.

Whether historically there were tunes written down is another question, but it seems that you could play bugle tunes and other simple tunes (although the responsiveness would be a problem I am sure).

Like one octave tune books that they have for Tabor pipes and ocarinas, I wonder if there is a special set of tunes that fit these instruments.

The willow flute must really exercise breath control, I had no idea the number of notes it could hit.

Sorry for the stream of conscious pondering.

Author:  Innocent Bystander [ Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:41 am ]
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I.D.10-t wrote:
Sorry for the stream of conscious pondering.

From the kettle to the pot, think nothing of it. :wink:

Author:  Innocent Bystander [ Wed Oct 24, 2007 12:41 pm ]
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You are spot on with that bit about the bugle. I'm finally getting to grips with it, getting my head around the notes it plays, and how to get from one to another.

And I end up playing "The Last Post". The only bugle tune I know.

Author:  I.D.10-t [ Wed Oct 24, 2007 1:22 pm ]
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Manual For Buglers US Navy

C G C E G Bb C D E F G Ab Bb B C

The above may be of interest, practice drills and tunes. Remember that the the willow flute has twice as many notes that it can hit (the part that is not in bold above) , so it may be advisable to hear the notes played on a whistle first, get an ear for the tune and try to reproduce it.

Hereis a page with some Bugle midis. You may recognize Taps, it is a fairly common tune.

I never thought of the fact that there is no fingering to control the notes and that notes would have to be recognized and played only by ear.

It seems that if you could find songs in Lydian dominant mode (C G C E G Bb C D E F# G A Bb B C) (???) that you may be able to fine some interesting parts of songs to play by removing the F#. (I have little in the way of music theory and no idea what I just wrote)

Perhaps I will have to try and making one of these things...

Wiki on bugle calls with link to British and US calls

Author:  Innocent Bystander [ Thu Oct 25, 2007 2:12 am ]
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That's very interesting, and exactly what I need! Thank you!

Author:  I.D.10-t [ Thu Oct 25, 2007 6:02 am ]
Post subject: ... 2002c.html

Re-reading this it seems that the open flute plays the same scale as the bugle, but closing the end forms the other notes. Mentioned elsewhere, half holing can alter the open hole notes.

There is also some sound clips of the Koncovka HERE.

From the Koncovka site on how to play "unique ornamentals"
Scatter is a high-intensity ornament particular to the fujara overtone flute that is often used at the beginning of songs. It begins with a high-itensity, repeated percussive blow that can be made by saying something like "DA DA DA Da Da Da da da da ..." Where the pressure of each "Da" gets less and less and the fujara descends through the overtone scale.

Although he mentions the scatter for the fujara, you can hear it at the beginning of the Koncovka clips.

It seems that the willow flute may be played sideways rather than like a whistle to make it easier to cover the end. With the Koncovka seems like it would be more difficult to reach the end. It also seems that there is a Russian version called the Kalyuka that has an embouchure similar to a quena (no plug).

From what I can find, Sparve Lilla (Little Sparrow) seems to be a traditional Swedish/Norwegian folk tune played on it.

Perhaps I will have to figure out how to edit wikipedia's entry for the willow flute...

Author:  wildmanofthewoods [ Sat Oct 27, 2007 4:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Willow Flutes

Hi Corwen here, the chap who made Innocent Bystanders flute.

The nature tone scale is a combination of the open harmonic series, ie the bugle scale, and the closed end harmonic series which is flattened slightly by the air going in interfering with the formation of the standing wave, and so different to the open ended scale. These two series alternate pitches to make the scale, if you're with me, each given pressure of breath giving two notes, one with end open and one with end closed.

There are traditional tunes for willow flute, and others collected from sjofloyta and harjedalspipa players that fit on the instrument and may have been composed on it previously. Many of these are collected, along with some composed tunes in Jean Pierre Yvert's willow flute tutor/cd, available from him, Fredmans Musik in Stockholm and me when I have stock of it. This is the only tutor book for this instrument, and is really excellent.

Happy tootling!

Author:  MarcusR [ Sat Nov 17, 2007 10:10 am ]
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The willow flute tutor mentioned above by Jean Pierre Yvert is a great way to get started. Has some pages about the history and technique, some simple exercises and 25 tunes, the CD has the tunes and exercises at both normal and slow speed. The score will show you the notes and if you need to cover the bottom hole or not.
Well worth getting :D

Myspace Jean Pierre Yvert
His band Svart kaffe (Black coffee)

Listen to the tune Cest le bel age on their Myspace page for some more contemporary stuff on willow flute.

Here is also a U-tube clip of the tune Little sparrow that I.D.10-t posted above.
Lot easier to get the hang of it if you can hear and see it being played.

Another little tune that you can give a try:

Too bad the clips was so short, Ale Möller is a musical magician.

Have fun!


edit: The scale, with a bit of luck and practice you should be able to get these notes, on a "D" flute.


The "--" indicates increasing blow pressure.
The bold "D" is with the end open, increase pressure and close end to get the "A", open the end and you have a"D", increase pressure slightly more and close end again and you have the F#, open end to get the "A"...

Make any sense?

Author:  Innocent Bystander [ Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:17 am ]
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Thanks for nudging me awake, Marcus. I've been neglecting this forum. You've given me plenty of homework there. I'll be busy. Thanks all!

Author:  Maxbrumbergflutes [ Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Willow Flute

[Thread revival. - Mod]

I see there has been some discussion going for the scales of this instrument. There is the book of Jean Pierre Yvert as mentioned and as i posted in another thread already you can check the very interesting website of Janne Ojajärvi , he is a customer on mine and a professional flutist. On his website you are going to find all the resources to learn how to play and a huge repertoire. He uploaded loads of melodies and notations for this flute. :party: :wink:

Check it out and :boggle:

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