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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:31 am 
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My Woodwind Acquisition Syndrome goes into remission sometimes, but never fully heals ;) I am starting to crave getting a NAF.

Never having played a NAF, and only occasionally having listened to them (though enjoying those times!) ... what are some considerations in choosing one, as a total beginner (to NAFs, not to whistles/quenas/etc.)? What to avoid?

(And do they have to have strange (to me and my culture) dangly thingies? So many questions ...)


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:11 am 
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There's some stuff on this ongoing thread that you may find useful-

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=89715


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:19 pm 
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You're in for a wonderful experience if you do end up buying a NAF.

To start with, yes, they always have those "strange dangly things". It's part of how it works. There are two separated "chambers" in the Native American flute. The first one opens toward your mouth and it's the part you blow into when you play it. The second one opens away from you as you play it and generates the tones. Basically, you fill the first chamber with pressure from blowing into it. The air escapes through a small hole in the roof of the chamber, but there's a tunnel that directs it along the top of the flute and across a second hole with a blade, which leads to the second chamber. The vibration of the air as it passes over that blade is what causes the sound, whcih goes through the second chamber and can be controlled by covering and uncovering holes. That's the really simplified explanation anyway. The dangly thing, if I understand you correctly, is either the fetish, which goes by other names and creates the tunnel between the two chambers, or the lace that ties it on.

Another possibility for the dangly bit is a cover for the fourth hole (from the bottom). This goes into styles of NAFs. The NAF is almost always in a five note scale (pentatonic). The octave note (not sure the proper name for it) is played by having all holes uncovered, rather than overblowing the bell note like most other simple woodwinds. Because of this, the complete scale, through one full octave, takes five holes. You'll find a number of five-holed NAFs out there because of this. However, many (most?) actually have six holes and can be played as a regular five holed flute or the extra hole can be used to hit some different notes. Among these six holed flutes some come with a cover for the extra hole (the fourth one) so that it behaves like a five holed flute even without the player having to cover that hole. This cover is generally a piece of leather that is tied over the hole with excess simply dangling down.

A last possibility is purely decorational. Some people like their NAFs to have feathers or other things hanging off the bell end (or the middle, or anywhere) just for the way it looks. That is entirely unnecessary for the tone and is purely a matter of personal taste.

Now, for what to look for. As I mentioned before, there are five and six holed varieties. If you think you would have trouble getting used to the idea of always keeping one finger down, you might want to go for a five holed flute. Generally, however, I would say it doesn't make much difference. I happen to prefer the six holed variety.

Other things to look for include the key. Like many other similar instruments, the NAF is stuck in the key it's made in. Unlike many other similar instruments, it's usually a solo instrument, sometimes played along with a drum. For playing alone, the key isn't terribly important. F# is generally considered to be the most authentic key, if that matters to you. I happen to like the lower keys for the beautiful haunting sound you get. Before you buy one you might think about what made you want to play the NAF and go for a key that will be in the range of whatever inspired you. There are many makers of NAFs out there and prices range from around $50 to many hundreds of dollars depending on what it's made of, how much hand crafting went into it, and what decorations it has. I would suggest starting with a somewhat basic one. You can find quite a few that will sound good for less than $100. Generally, avoid bamboo.

The NAF is an instrument that carries a lot of personal feeling in it, so the choice of which one to buy is a very personal thing. I hope I gave you enough information to be useful without swaying you too much in any direction. And above all I hope you find one you love and make some beautiful music with it.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 1:19 am 
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I am new to Chiff and Fipple so I hope that I don't break any rules in this post. I have been playing NAF for 5 years and I spend most of my time at the Flute Portal.

If you want to get a decent NAF, you don't want to break the bank and you want your flute right away I recommend either:

Butch Hall:
http://www.butchhallflutes.com/

or

Odell Borg (High Spirit Flutes):
http://www.highspirits.com/

Kuzin Bruce makes a well respected flute at a reasonable price. He doesn't usually have a lot of inventory on hand so you would need to check with him if you want the flute right away. Otherwise he makes flutes to order:
http://kuzinbruceflutes.tripod.com/

I hope that helps.

Art :)


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 12:06 pm 
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Thank you all :)


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:37 pm 
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Titmouse wrote:

Kuzin Bruce makes a well respected flute at a reasonable price. He doesn't usually have a lot of inventory on hand so you would need to check with him if you want the flute right away. Otherwise he makes flutes to order:
http://kuzinbruceflutes.tripod.com/

I hope that helps.

Art :)


I ordered a couple of flutes from Kuzin Bruce, and second this opinion. His flutes are good, solid instruments, and it is a pleasure to work with him.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:15 am 
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kokopelli wrote:
You're in for a wonderful experience if you do end up buying a NAF.

Now, for what to look for. As I mentioned before, there are five and six holed varieties. If you think you would have trouble getting used to the idea of always keeping one finger down, you might want to go for a five holed flute. Generally, however, I would say it doesn't make much difference. I happen to prefer the six holed variety.

Generally, avoid bamboo.



+1 on everything he said!

Regarding 5 or 6 hole flute:
You might wanna get a 6 hole flute.
Once you get better on the NAF, you might wanna increase your tonal variety. Instead buying another NAF with 6 holes, you already have one, that'll save money.
You can either buy a 6 hole flute with the 6th hole (which actually is the third from the top) covered with a leather strap or you can simply cover it yourself, in case you do not want to keep your left ring finger down on the hole all the time during your initial starting phase.

As for the dangling parts:
There will be 2 you'll actually need: one is the strap holding the fetish (or: totem), that's the figure or woodblock on top of the two air chambers, and one will be the leather strap of the piece of leather covering that additional hole. You can get rid of that by removing it and using your left ring finger to cover the hole.

Image

Some people use a rubber band for fixation of the fetish. I personally love the look of the leather straps.

Cutting short the leather straps, so nothing "dangles around" is not adviseable, since you might have to remove the totem from time to time and re-binding it with too short leather bands is a PITA!

Here's a series of awesome tutorial videos, recorded by Odell Borg, the boss of High Spirits Flutes in USA.
The best tutorial videos you can find on YouTube!! This is part 1, make sure to look for part 2 to 10!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8DmKw5Qm4w


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:01 pm 
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A last possibility is purely decorational. Some people like their NAFs to have feathers or other things hanging off the bell end (or the middle, or anywhere) just for the way it looks. That is entirely unnecessary for the tone and is purely a matter of personal taste.


While leather wraps, feathers and other decorational things might be ornamental, a person familiar with the principles of native american spirituality doesn't put fringy things on their flutes for decoration. They are totems with medicine qualities just like a medicine pouch. And while some makers do add these things to catch the eye of buyers, there are still a few who are very discriminating about what they put on, and work with the buyer to ensure that what is on their is the medicine most related to that person.

To the uninitiated, I know it sounds like a bunch of hocus pocus. So be it. And for some, the material used also has significance beyond, Oh, I love the sound of yellow pokadotted walnut.

I might buy a NAF for it's musical value but I also might buy a flute for it's medicine value.


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