Have you ever played a Quena ?

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gerardo1000
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Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by gerardo1000 »

I am intrigued by the Bolivian quena, a way in the middle between a whistle and an irish flute.
I understand that you must play it like a flute, but you keep it straight in front of you like a whistle.
There is also a "low D" version called Quenacho.
I wonder if any of you has one and can comment ? Thanks.
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RonKiley
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Re: Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by RonKiley »

I have a cheap one my grandson brought back from Chile. You play it by placing the open end against your chin and blow across a V shaped blade. Mine has six holes on top like a whistle and one on the back like a recorder.
I've never met a whistle I didn't want.
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Re: Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by brewerpaul »

Quena is a lot of fun. The notched mouthpiece gives you a lot of control over the tone of the instrument, although getting a good sound out of it is tricky at first.
It's also just about the simplest instrument to make out of PVC pipe. I used to have good instructions, but I can't seem to find them now. A simple drill, hacksaw and round file are about all you need.
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plunk111
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Re: Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by plunk111 »

I've made a couple (in G) out of PVC pipe... They're pretty easy to make - WAY easier than a whistle! All you need is a drill, a saw, and a dremel (to make the embouchure). They do take a little practice, but sound kinda cool once you get the hang of 'em. I play Irish music on mine, which has NOTHING to do with what the quena was designed for, but sounds cool.

Pat
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jiminos
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Re: Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by jiminos »

i make them in several keys. love 'em. the lower keys can be very haunting. as paul said, you can do quite a bit with them.

the biggest challenge i found was the first note. but once you get that.... great stuff. two octave range. i make mine without the thumbhole. the cut of the embouchure has a huge impact on the tone... and the angle of play as well.

be well,

jim
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Re: Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by O_Gaiteiro_do_Chicago »

I play in couple of Latin American folk music groups here, and the quena has be become my axe of choice. Much like Irish flute it has a good amount of back pressure so you can get a very reedy sound out of it. In a session environment I use a quenacho instead, quena is a bit too strong sounding, doesn't blend as well with the other instruments. I'd recommend a thicker walled instrument as it will give you that nice earthy quality. If you need help finding one let me know, i've got a whole pile of them.
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Re: Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by s1m0n »

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gerardo1000
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Re: Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by gerardo1000 »

I have seen that the quena is "tapered" inside, i.e. the hole from the embouchure side is large while the hole on the other hand is small. If this is true, how is it possible to make a good quena from pvc ?
Thanks.
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plunk111
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Re: Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by plunk111 »

Gerardo:

I didn't say it was a GOOD quena!!! :lol:

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I.D.10-t
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Re: Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by I.D.10-t »

brewerpaul wrote:It's also just about the simplest instrument to make out of PVC pipe. I used to have good instructions, but I can't seem to find them now. A simple drill, hacksaw and round file are about all you need.


You might be thinking of http://www.fippless.org. They don't seem to be keeping their site up so you have to go through archive.org to get information on it.

http://web.archive.org/web/200702070146 ... Dimensions

I like his Recorder tweak
http://web.archive.org/web/200702081553 ... 0_Yamakena
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Tweeto
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Re: Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by Tweeto »

Gerardo1000 wrote:I have seen that the quena is "tapered" inside, i.e. the hole from the embouchure side is large while the hole on the other hand is small. If this is true, how is it possible to make a good quena from pvc ?
Thanks.


If by "tapered" you mean "conical", the only one I know of that's definitely made that way are the ones that Mark Hoza offers. All of the quenas I've seen in person are a cylindrical tube. They look like they were made with the end closed off, which is then opened up enough to get the tonic note in tune.

To make one with a totally open tube, I would think you just start off with extra length and then gradually remove material from the end until it's in tune.


The problem I've had with quenas is that the top 3 holes are all very large. The purpose of this, according to O Gaiteiro do Chicago, is to give lots of leeway for expression. I would like a quena that has holes #1 and #3 smaller than #2 (just like an Irish flute) so that I can cover them and still be able to play well (without a new learning curve to overcome).

I would also like a quena with a tuning slide. I can understand why these aren't usually present on quenas, since you have to press the end against your face in order to make the proper seal for playing it. I don't know how they can stay in proper tune without one though. The only way I've been able to play along with another quena player is if both of us are using instruments made by the same maker. And does it sharpen up as it warms up, like other flutes do?
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gerardo1000
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Re: Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by gerardo1000 »

I ordered two quenas and two quenachos in wood, from two different sources.
Hopefully they are good quality instruments, they come from Andean Nation
and from Lallamaplace, two retailers in the States that seem to have a good reputation among forum members. While I am waiting for the instruments, I have been playing a cheap bamboo quena in G, but the intonation is terrible...
I'll post a review of the wood quenas once I receive them.
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Re: Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by BrotherLeaf »

Nice post!
The quenacho (low D quena) is perfectly suitable for Irish music as it has a great dynamic range similar to a wooden flute. Some days ago I was reading that the low flutes used in Braveheart soundtrack where actually a quenacho.

I prefer the bamboo ones, as you can feel the vibration in your fingers when you play. It's really a simple instrument, but making a pro-quality one is not so easy (it should be able to play 3 octaves and the first two without any weird fingering).

If any of you is interested in a pro quality intrument, this is the guy. His instruments are the best in the market.
http://www.unmundodebambu.com.ar/quenasi.htm
westwind
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Re: Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by westwind »

If you check out Tony Hinnigans website he has some quena tutorials you can download.

http://www.tonyhinnigan.com/moviedl.php?group=33

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mjb128wv
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Re: Have you ever played a Quena ?

Post by mjb128wv »

I would second the recommendation for http://www.unmundodebambu.com.ar/quenasi.htm

I have a quenacho and a transverse flute in D from him. Workmanship and sound are great.
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