Chromatic Scale on the Native American Flute

Chromatic-keyboardThe Native American flute is a simple instrument. But when we think about it, most musical instruments are pretty simple in design. Take the guitar, for instance. Famous classical guitarist Andre Segovia once referred to the guitar as a humble wooden box with six strings strung across it. Yet, we know that the guitar is capable of immensely complex and beautiful music. The same can be said of the Native American flute. In this case it’s a simple wooden tube with six holes. Of course, we can say there are really nine holes, the two tube ends and the hole at the top of the flute that allows the air blown into the tube to escape across the hole’s farthest edge to make the sound. But it’s the six holes you open and close with your fingers that changes the pitch of this sound. So when we look at the simple 6-hole flute, it’s easy to think that the flute can only deliver simple music. But think again! You can play any kind of music on the Native American flute. We are used to tagging the flute with traditional sounds because this is the way it’s usually played. And unfortunately, most people think the flute can only produce traditional music of the ancient Native American culture. I have been working hard to dispel this myth. Although I love and often play traditional music on this instrument, I also play every conceivable music style on this simple instrument, and I do this by playing notes within what’s called the chromatic scale.

What is a “chromatic” scale? Picture yourself sitting in front of a piano keyboard, like the musician in the illustration. If he starts playing at “middle C”, a certain white key on any keyboard, and if he would play up the white keys, he would play the C major scale. But if he were to include the black keys, all the notes, he would play the “chromatic” scale. The black keys augment a simple scale, that scale played on just the white keys, into a chromatic scale. To hear what this scale sounds like, click here. The link will take you to the LISTEN tab and the submenu, Native American Flute.

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It’s Not Only a Man’s Instrument

The following information is gleaned from the book, The Native American Flute: Myth, History, Craft, by C.S. Fuqua.

Two-flute-players_5wide-2Although the love flute myth—the development of the native flute for use by a male to court a female—is certainly a most treasured Native American tale, it is not the whole story. Before Europeans arrived in the New World, native men regarded native women as equals and, in some ways, viewed them as more powerful. A common belief held that women could dream themselves special powers to be used in the traditionally female roles of treating sick children, preparing food, and gathering food. Unlike most modern cultures, the mother’s ancestral line, not the father’s, determined a child’s lineage. In community affairs, women, some of whom became shamans, always had the right to vote. If the community’s women grew dissatisfied with the chief, they had the power to impeach him. They commonly served in advisory positions to the chief, assisted him in managing village affairs, regularly spoke in council meetings, and held the power to forbid braves from going to war. And when it came to music, women, as well as men, played the flute.

Songs and music varied from tribe to tribe, utilized in activities from honoring Creator or Great Spirit, to shaman medicine songs for cures and bringing rain, to help in locating game, to lullabies, to children’s games, vision quests, harvests, war, and death. For some, music was so important that, when a village member returned from visiting another village, one of the first questions from others would be, “What new song did you learn?”

Although customs and practices differed between Native American cultures, the flute became one trait common to most. North American native cultures placed great value in the power of their flutes. Most cultures maintained a deep connection with their past through stories handed down primarily in music, but that changed after Europeans arrived, and most native history was lost. Many native scholars blame that loss on the placement of native children in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries into so-called Indian schools where teachers forced native children to speak English, wear western-style clothing, and study western-based history rather than studying and preserving their own history and heritage through traditional sources and methods. Native Americans were expected to assimilate into a more European, Judeo-Christian lifestyle. Where women once held high esteem and equality, their share in power and authority slowly disintegrated.

Erosion of women’s power and honor extended even to music as certain myths and practices deemed unchallenging to western thought, especially the quaint and sweet, were embellished and perpetuated, especially concerning the flute as a courting instrument. The fact that flutes were used much more broadly than courting in native life was simply ignored. Foremost, the flute had traditionally been a social instrument, used for the sheer joy of making music. Musicians of both genders played flutes in various ceremonies, depending on the native culture, that included weddings, thanksgiving to various gods for a good harvest or hunt, rites of passage, and appointments of new tribal leaders. Long before the arrival of Europeans, the talents of both men and women flautists were nurtured as soon as discovered, usually at a young age. Tribal members valued their flute players, believing musical ability to be a divine gift.

While many European author accounts indicate the flute played a part in courting, they don’t mention that marriage and courtship rites varied from culture to culture, that the courtship period itself could last more than six years, that the girl had the power of choice, that the genealogical line was through the mother’s family, not the father’s, that women were held as equal individuals within the culture, unlike women of Western society at the time…..

Many Native American activists today believe that Western immigrants have waged a constant cultural war, not to mention a physical war, on American Indians, a war born primarily out of Western fear of native women’s social equality in native culture. The first immigrants, especially those steeped in Puritan, Catholic, and Quaker Christian tradition, did not tolerate women in prominent positions of government or societal decision-making. They reported back to the home countries that native women were subservient, that the natives as a whole were savages. European immigrants then began the systematic elimination of indigenous women’s power within their own tribes and clans. The attempt succeeded somewhat, as evidenced by the perception that the Native American flute is solely a male instrument, but women have begun to regain their rightful places in tribal life. Even female deities and original native mythologies have enjoyed a resurgence among many native peoples in recent years. More than a fourth of federally recognized tribes are now chaired by women. As of February 2006, women led 133 tribes, according the National Congress of American Indians.

The resurgence of power, however, doesn’t thrill everyone in the Native American community. Since Wilma Mankiller became the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in 1985, some male opponents in various tribal races have ridiculed their female opponents as inept, unable, and too female to make the important decisions required of a chief for the good of the tribe. Some opposition has even come from other women, but the fact remains that women are changing the face of government on reservations as they take on positions of administrators, teachers, and community organizers, regaining positions of authority like those held by their ancestors.

Old views die hard, though. Surf around the Internet to various Native American flute sites and you’ll encounter the long-accepted gender bias against women playing the Native flute. One site discounts historical fact completely in preference of the love flute myth as the only possible explanation for the flute’s development and use, asserting that, “traditionally, women never would touch a flute.” Many contemporary male flautists still maintain that women should enjoy the flute only as listeners, but as more women take up the instrument and assert their power among the tribes, the narrow-minded views are slowly beginning to fade, forcing mythology and cultural prejudice to give way to truth.

C. S. Fuqua has authored many books, and he also crafts Native American flutes from bamboo, cedar, and PVC. Check the menu tabs MUSIC BOOKS and ABOUT US to learn more.

 

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Easy Entry to Banjo Heaven!

Banjo-Girl_WPEverybody wants to be a banjo star! Oh, what must that feeling be like to stand on stage in front of thousands, your banjo blowing up a firestorm and your body in a white heat! The crowd leaps to its feet as you storm through tunes like Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Under the Double Eagle, the banjo so substantial under your skilled fingers that you think you can ride it like a heavenly chariot into the sky. This is just about everyone’s idea of what it must be like to be a banjo star. Well, here’s some news: not everyone has the time to become a banjo star. In fact, almost none of us can be the kind of banjo star that commands the adulation of millions. To be a top money-making banjo star you will have to devote many hours to practicing your banjo. You will play countless gigs, master the intricate rolls of Earl Scruggs, and give your life to the banjo. How many of us can do that? Or even want to? Most of us are out there holding down a job, raising a family, or going to school so we can become better than we are. Learning to play any instrument extremely well will take a certain amount of work and dedication. Does this mean we can’t learn the banjo? No. There are always workarounds, even with the banjo. The trick is to pick realistic goals so even if our time to devote is limited, we can gain some level of mastery so you can be your own banjo, guitar, uke, flute, mandolin, dobro, whatever star.

Since we’re talking about the banjo in this article, let’s focus on that instrument. What I say here applies to any instrument you might choose to play. So what’s my plan? Do I even have a plan? Of course I have a plan. 🙂 Suppose you are just like the rest of us. You’re working hard, tired at the end of every day, and long, strenuous practice is simply out of the question. Even though you might find the time to learn bluegrass someday, is there any chance that you could play the banjo to at least some level of satisfaction? Yes! There is another way to play the banjo, and this style is as exciting as the bluegrass style! Pete Seeger used this style of playing very often, made it famous, in fact, and he called it the “up picking” style. It’s not Pete’s style. The style originated long before any of us were born. Pete perfected this style, and when I first heard Pete Seeger’s album titled “Darling Corey/Goofing Off Suite”, I was hooked on this style. I stumbled across this album in the 1960s, and it is still available on iTunes. On this album Seeger uses the up picking style extensively. And this album inspired me to learn that style.

Eventually I found my way into giving guitar lessons, and then banjo lessons. Without even thinking about the up picking style I had worked so hard to master, I began my banjo students with a healthy dose of lessons in the bluegrass style. This proved to be a mistake on my part. My students didn’t have enough time in their busy lives to learn the basic bluegrass rolls, exercises every bluegrass picker must deal with when first beginning this style. Practicing Scruggs rolls is the equivalent, psychologically speaking, of practicing scales on the piano; no one wants to do it. Students were quitting right and left. I didn’t want them to quit. Part of my living came from giving lessons. I had to find some way to retain my students. It was then that I decided to try teaching them the up picking method of playing. Before I knew it, I had more banjo students than I had time for! No one quit. Everybody stuck with it. But in the beginning of my effort I had painted myself into a corner. There were no comprehensive books available for this style. So out of sheer desperation I wrote one. I tabbed out tunes as I needed them, and eventually I had a whole book. The first copy of the book was crude because I had to lay every page out on a drawing board. I had to ink out all the banjo tablature by hand, and I wrote the text explanations on my trusty Commodore Vic 20 computer. Oh, those were the dark days of graphic design! But this crude first publication kept my banjo players coming back each week, and they learned to play the banjo. And they managed all this with practice time limited by their own busy lives. For some students, the up picking style was a steppingstone to the bluegrass style. So everyone won. Those that didn’t want to move beyond the up picking style into bluegrass were perfectly happy with the up picking style. Those that wanted to move on to bluegrass had received a solid background in banjo chords and rhythm, making entry into the bluegrass style much easier.

The up picking style isn’t nearly as difficult to master as the bluegrass style. You will be able to master recognizable tunes more quickly than if you were playing the bluegrass style. I’ve been in several local bands over the years, and although I occasionally played in the bluegrass style, it was that galloping rhythm of the up picking style our audiences really loved the most. They’d hit the dance floor like their pants were on fire! 🙂

If you think you might be interested in learning the up picking style, check out my banjo book, “5-String Banjo, Hot and Wild”, under the MUSIC BOOKS menu tab. If you want to hear how this style sounds, listen to the included tunes on the book’s description page. You can also hear me play Under the Double Eagle in the up picking style under the menu tab LISTEN, then Banjo.

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The Mighty Ukulele!

DadsTenor_PFITHE FIRST STRINGED INSTRUMENT I EVER PLAYED: When I was around nine or ten years old, the first stringed instrument I ever played was a tenor guitar,  (The image on the right is that tenor guitar.) The tenor guitar has four strings, and the strings are typically steel. But I was pretty young to be fretting a guitar, so after wrestling with steel, literally, my father restrung the guitar with four nylon baritone ukulele strings. Then he tuned it to standard tuning for the baritone ukulele. The baritone ukulele strings are tuned to the same pitch as the first four strings of a guitar. This gives the tenor guitar and the ukulele many interesting harmonic possibilities, especially when finger picking. (It should be noted that originally the tenor guitar was tuned to the pitch of the Dixie Land banjo. This made it easy for Dixie Land banjo players to pick up the tenor guitar during a concert and seamlessly handle the instrument without having to rethink in a different tuning.) And so, once I could fret the strings with my small, young fingers, I happily set about learning basic chords and singing along with my strumming. This was the real beginning of my folk music life. And it grew from there into many different directions.

HUGE HARMONIC POSSIBILITIES! An instrument with just four strings can make a mighty big impression! Today’s 4-string ukuleles are made on precision machinery. (There are also ukuleles with 6 strings.) They fret well, they tune well, and even the cheaper models have a pretty decent tone. If you want to buy an inexpensive ukulele with a decent tone, a good one can be had for as little as a hundred bucks or even less. I owned a 65 dollar pineapple uke once that sounded great! It was all mahogany and I played that thing to death!

UKULELE PRICE RANGES: Some ukuleles can be mighty expensive. Martin Guitars sells an all Koa model, (top, back and sides), for a bit more than $5000. There are many topflight American ukulele makers, (some ukes from these makers command very high prices), and most companies are based in our 50th state of Hawaii. Some of these ukes sell for $6000 or more. But there are also companies that sell great ukes at an intermediate price of $600 – $800. That’s still too rich for many of us, though. So let’s consider the lower end. Ukes in the $60 to $90 price range can usually be a safe buy. Many uke makers build ukes in this price range. $100 – $150 is an even safer range to buy in if you want an even better tone. The safest way to insure the best tone for the price is to buy a uke with a solid top. I own a Cordoba 22T tenor uke with a solid spruce top and it sounds gorgeous. And it cost just a bit more than 200 bucks. This is the uke I play most of the time. I’m not endorsing this brand. In fact, I won’t endorse any brand. But sometimes brand names can clarify, and so in future articles I will identify an instrument by brand if I think it will be helpful to what I’m trying to explain. In this article, I want to make clear that a solid top will sound better than a laminate top, all other things being equal. (We will talk about laminate tops in more detail in future articles.) I recorded most of the samples for my uke method book, Ukulele Finger Picking, with my Cordoba 22T. If you would like to hear what my Cordoba 22T sounds like, click the link below where you can hear me play four selections. Just tap the mp3 player bar to hear each selection.

Just click the link below.

Hear the Cordoba 22T tenor ukulele

Until next time….

 

 

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Pentatonic Scale On the Native American Flute

Flute-blog-3If you already play an instrument, you probably play the guitar. Everyone wants to play the guitar. The guitar is a rock instrument, a folk instrument, a bluegrass instrument, a blues and jazz instrument, a classical music instrument, a sacred music instrument, and an instrument to entertain your little kids. The guitar is ubiquitous. It’s everywhere! I began my own folk music life by first learning the guitar. Back then it seemed like the perfect instrument to learn any kind of music on. But along with that enthusiasm came work: work to learn the chord positions, work to learn the scale positions, and, in my case, I attacked those chord and scale positions with a fervor that helped me learn the guitar in a hurry. I even eventually taught guitar, and I can’t begin to count the number of guitar and banjo lessons I gave over the years. So the guitar was one of those positive things that happened in my life. Playing it has given me joy, and through teaching the guitar (and banjo) I’ve passed on that joy to others. But if I were to choose a beginning instrument today, I would start out with the Native American flute, not the guitar. The flute is easily accessible to all those who want to be musicians but don’t know where to start.

What took me so long to come to the Native American flute? Well, when I began learning the guitar, there were few Native American flutes, if any, available to the average musician. The art of building a Native American flute was nearly lost. The flute wasn’t on anyone’s radar. So we all began with the guitar, because the folkie artists and the country artists were playing guitars.

When I began learning the guitar, I wanted to sing and accompany my singing as I picked and strummed. That, to me, was the real power of music. Although it was my father who introduced me to the tenor guitar at a young age, it was also my father who played the sax like a pro. And although I appreciated his musicianship and enjoyed his playing, I wasn’t interested in taking up the sax. You can’t sing and play the sax at the same time. I wanted to be the whole danged band! I wanted to sing and strum, like those cowboy stars I’d seen in the movies!

But there was something really momentous about my father’s sax playing. It was true he was playing just one note at a time on his sax, and he certainly couldn’t sing while he played. But the single-note melody that came out of his horn was beautiful. It was meditative, especially when he played the blues. So when the Native American flute became available to all us common folk, I bought one. After some serious noodling around on it, I quickly found a bluesy sounding scale. I didn’t know the name for this scale then, but I was soon to learn it was the pentatonic scale, the scale that’s “native” to the Native American flute. This scale is the oldest scale on the planet, and the scale was present in very early times, (thousands of years ago), in almost every culture. We know this by old flutes archaeologists have uncovered in their digs. Those first flutes could make only one note. There was no scale–just the one note. But as time passed, people began drilling more holes into the flute barrel, and this humble instrument evolved into the beautiful 5 and 6 hole instruments we use today.

As I learned more and more about the Native American flute, I found more notes than just those in the pentatonic scale. Eventually I figured out the chromatic scale. The chromatic scale is made up of the white and black keys of a piano or keyboard; any melody you might know or compose can be played on the chromatic scale. But the best way to start your flute studies is with the simplest scale, the pentatonic scale. This scale makes the NA flute an ideal instrument to learn to play because it requires no music lessons. It requires no formal guidance from anyone, other than you and your instincts. If you play just those notes of the pentatonic scale, you can meditate with the beautiful melodies this humble instrument makes. With the pentatonic scale, no matter what notes you might play, your melody will sound good. That’s the peculiar characteristic of this scale, and it’s probably why the scale endured over thousands of years. Melodies played from this scale, regardless of which instrument you might play it on, will help you slow down, to reflect. In light of the stress many of us are living under, the flute can make our lives easier.

If you would like to hear what the pentatonic scale played on the Native American flute sounds like, go to the LISTEN menu tab. You will hear me play the simple pentatonic scale, a short meditative melody, and a quickly improvised blues melody.

It should be noted that there is more than one type of pentatonic scale. If you are interested in the other scale forms, go to Pentatonic Scale at Wikipedia.org.

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“FOLK TREE” from Iowa Public Radio

WP_Radio-acc-edges
Boil ‘dem cabbage down, boys!

Much of the human race is spoiled, and I include myself in this. To illustrate my point, let me give you a quick history lesson about the technological advancements we’ve experienced through the years. TV was a reality in its early crude form in the 1920s, and it was commercially available when I was born. Even so, it took some years before there was a TV in my house. But, oh man, we didn’t think it could get any better than having a moving picture glowing from a little box while sitting in our cozy living rooms with “tons” of programs available to us at the turn of a knob, all wrapped up in a tiny, fuzzy black and white flibberty jibbit screen. And things got really good if Mom handed us a bowl of Jolly Time popcorn while we watched our favorite programs!

But we didn’t have to put up with that unstable flibberty jibbit screen for long. We, as a society, were suddenly hungry for whatever science could give us, and big business became equally hungry for the money in our pockets. Technology took off like a rocket after those first TVs appeared. Soon came color TVs, bigger screens, transistor radios, cable television, widescreen movies playing in small town theaters wired with incredible sound that would shake the fillings out of your teeth, and the Sony Walkman—a portable cassette player that allowed us to take our music with us. And today it’s even better. Now many of us have computers in our pockets, all in the svelte shape of a smart phone. And we can watch high definition videos and full-length movies on the tiny screens of our magic phones, and we watch all of this in dazzling color with it-feels-like-we’re-there sound through our tiny ear-buds. The delicate phonograph with its needle that patiently made its way through a circular pathway on its one long plastic groove in order to generate sound is almost nonexistent now. Audiotape, the thin brown stuff that snarled like bailing wire and jammed up in its cheap cassette case like a stopped up toilet is gone. (Probably the only famous artist still using tape is Neil Young; Young loves analog, and tape can record that sound through an analog system.) The CD is hanging on for dear life, but it will soon go from our lives as well. Photographic film is almost extinct, as nearly all movie production companies have switched to digital imaging. (Even now the Smithsonian plans to preserve all its video and audio files as digital files, recopying them every three years or so, so they don’t deteriorate on their servers over time.)

It was Apple founder Steve Jobs who, in one masterful stroke, bypassed the acetate record, the audiotape cassette, and the CD when he made downloadable music, digital music, a reality with the introduction of iTunes in 1998. iTunes gave us music made up of the unseen particles of bits and bytes. We played iTunes tunes on our computers, and we also saved them to blank CDs in the early days of this technology. But with the introduction of iTunes came the iPod. The iPod, the first digital music player with really serious storage capacity, had a strange effect on the majority of music lovers. We all suddenly threw away our transistor radios and tape players and CD players and began listening to the kind of music we could buy cheaply from iTunes. And today the tunes we buy from iTunes, as well as from other digital music providers, are stored in the “cloud”, those big servers out there somewhere that can’t be physically located or seen by ordinary mortals: hence the term, “cloud”.

Why am I even telling you all this? I’m recounting all this to help us appreciate those more straightforward technologies that have real entertainment value, because we truly have been spoiled by the high tech wizardry that has given us more choices than we can comfortably enjoy. Through all these choices there is a technological delivery system that has somehow gotten lost in the shuffle, but it’s ready and waiting to entertain us with quality programming if we just stop to take a cleansing breath. That delivery system is the radio!

PlayFolkMusic.com, the site you are visiting right now, is a site for those of us who enjoy folk music. That’s why you’re here and reading this blog article. In order to enjoy folk music, it really doesn’t matter if we play folk instruments or not. We can enjoy this music by just listening to it. But how might we do this? To collect folk music and make it our own private collection is no easy task. Even if we collect this music in just the digital format where tunes take up no room on a shelf but sit sedately and unobtrusively on a hard drive, it can be an expensive and time consuming task. Fortunately there are other ways to access the music we love. I live in Iowa, and I raised my daughter with Iowa Public Radio. So it goes without saying that I might be a bit prejudiced when I tell you I love IPR/NPR. But I know my music, and IPR has a wonderful show on Sunday afternoons you would be wise to check out. It’s called “Folk Tree”, it’s hosted by Karen Impola, and it runs from 1:00 to 5:00, CST. And, of course, you can stream it, just like we stream our digital music purchases from the cloud and movies from Netflix. This means that if you have normal Internet access, you can stream the program from anywhere on the planet as it airs. (Advanced streaming technology has made the radio far more powerful than it was during its humble beginnings.) Impola’s tastes in folk music run far and wide, and that’s what makes this show worth listening to. She plays old stuff, but she also plays contemporary artists. Very old artists, artists like Leadbelly, who made recordings in the earliest days of the phonograph, are played. One would expect artists of the 1960s like Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger to be played, and they show up now and again as well. But Impola also plays people like Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, two masters of the banjo, (who are also married to each other), contemporary folk artists in the truest sense, even though much of their original music is all over the map. “Folk Tree” is the perfect name for this program because it explores the many branches of this music both old and new, popular and obscure, as its artists recorded and are still recording the commentary and history of our times in song.

Impola has an effective style during the show’s presentation. She will play maybe four of five tracks, all from different artists, one after the other. (Did I mention that public radio stations don’t run commercials during any program?) Then she will give us the name of the artist, track, and album the tune came from, starting from the tune just played and working backwards to the first played. This makes it easy to keep “notes” if you hear something you might want to find later. On the Folk Tree page of the IowaPublicRadio.org website Impola also provides a running list of all the songs played on the last show. Each entry has an album cover image, or in some cases a placeholder image, and the name of the artist and title of track played. This listing can be very useful. But if you can’t find the track from the links, you might use the text information to search a website called Smithsonian Folkways. This site is a treasure trove of both old and contemporary folk music, and you can buy the music in several physical mediums, including downloads. Its site URL is rather arcane, but I give it to you in the actual URL below–

http://www.folkways.si.edu/folkways-recordings/smithsonian

If the links on the Folk Tree listing don’t yield results, take note of the album name and artist name and then try finding it on a site like Smithsonian Folkways. As Karen told me, some of these recordings are only available on acetate records, and those records might be long out of print. Case in point: I have a beautiful recording of some of Lightning (Sam) Hopkins’ best blues. These tunes are on a “budget” acetate (record) album I paid two dollars for in 1964. This album long ago went out of print, but I have preserved this record and it’s still in pristine condition, even though I’ve played the dickens out of it. I have since converted it to digital files on a blank CD, and eventually I moved those digital files, first to my 2nd gen iPod, and now to my 4th gen iPod.

Good music might go out of print, but with a radio program like Folk Tree the chances of you hearing some of this great music is very high. That’s why folk music radio is worth listening to. The people who run shows like this have their own collections to draw from, and serious searching on the Net can quickly turn up treasures not easily available elsewhere. In other words, presenters like Impola know what they’re doing. They have massive digital libraries we can sample weekly just by turning on our radios or going to their website to pick up their stream. And we hear their efforts on shows like “Folk Tree” from IowaPublicRadio.org Check it out when you have the time. It’s a rich source of very fine folk music.

I want to personally thank Karen Impola for being so helpful in the realization of this article. Thank you Karen!

Dick Claassen – folk music fanatic

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HARD AT WORK!

The Site's Beginnings

The Site’s Beginnings

Hello, everyone. I’m in the process of building this new website for all those interested in folk music. As I write this first article, I’m just barely getting started with putting this website together. In the past I built my websites with Adobe Dreamweaver, an application that allows me to design a website without layout restrictions. FluteFlights.com, currently our main website, is an example of this kind of freeform layout. But times are changing, and I’m hungering for a different look. So this new site, PlayFolkInstruments.com, is a WordPress website. Even though its layout tools and themes are quite slick and sophisticated, (which is why I am using WordPress to build this site), it’s very, very different from Adobe Dreamweaver. So please excuse my slow pace in getting this new site up and running. There’s a learning curve, and mastering the WordPress tools takes a bit of time.

Why this website exists:

A.  One of the reasons PlayFolkInstruments.com is being built is to showcase the music method books I have written. Currently they are how-to books for the Native American flute, the folk banjo, and the ukulele. (There will be even more method books for more instruments as I find the time and energy to write.) On this site you will also find flute builder Chris Fuqua’s excellent book, “Native American Flute: Myth, History, Craft”. Since we are a ways from getting all the description pages up, I refer you to our current website, FluteFlights.com, for detailed descriptions of all our music books. “FluteFlights” was the original home of our Native American flute books, but we now house books for other instruments as well.

B. The other reason this site came to be is to discuss folk music. I love folk music. I learned to play the guitar, banjo and uke by playing folk music. But my music taste is quite diverse. And so is my family’s. My daughter is a professional cellist, my sister is a first rate piano player, my father was a jazz sax player, and I have spent many a happy hour playing my classical guitar. But I also love, compose and finger pick the folk banjo, the ukulele, and I also play the Native American flute. So folk music is just one of those genres that is dear to my heart. If you are reading this article, chances are pretty high you like folk music too. So join our happy little folk music clan because I plan to write many blog articles about folk music. You can help me with this by letting me know what kinds of things you’d like to read about. That will make the site more pertinent to the folk music community. But please excuse me now. I have to get back to working on this dang site…. 🙂

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