Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Favorite Flute?

I've been out performing this month again and as always I get a question that stumps me every time. "What's your favorite flute?"

I've been asked this question at least a hundred times and it still surprises me. Mostly because I've never sat down and thought about it on my own. "...hmm, what's my favorite flute?" It is a perfectly reasonable question, I guess, but one that I could never answer.

Why not? Well here are a few reasons.

Too Many
I've been playing Native American style flutes for over ten years now and stopped counting how many I had at least nine years ago. As my collection grows I forget about some of the old ones. Newer ones catch my attention and they get played more. It's human nature.

Not All Flutes Sound Alike
Every flute I have sounds slightly different. What I like about the sound of one flute may be great for a certain mood, musical style, or playing style, but not work as well outside of those parameters. I might prefer other flutes for other moods, styles or types of playing.

The sounds of some flutes I own are sweet, some are clear, some are loud, some are soft, some are warm, etc. Many flute have a lot of these qualities, but not all flutes have every good quality one might look for in a flute. I've never heard a flute than can sound both "plains" and "woodland" style. It's one or the other.

This may be why I prefer some flutes over others, they do more of the things I want a flute to do than others. Flutes that can be played soulfully one minute and then aggressively the next I like better than flutes that only play one way.

Too Specific
Some flutes are so specific that they end up limiting themselves. I have drone flutes and doubles that do a few things really well, but not everything. Bass flutes and really high pitched flutes can also fall victim to their specific design. When you get down to it all NAFs are based on one key and that limits them as well. So all flute suffer from being specific in some way.

A World Full Of Options
In the end the main reason why I could never pick a "favorite" flute is that I like to keep my options open. I don't have a favorite color, or a favorite meal, (I do have a favorite food: pumpkin... go figure), I like many different styles of music, a variety of tea blends and types of beer, I like all the seasons (although I think I prefer fall), and as the seasons change and the food at the farmer's market changes I get excited with all the new stuff they offer.

Variety is the spice of life and there are so many wonder things on our planet for us to pick from that I don't see how anyone could ever say "This is my favorite."

So, now that I've thought about it, do I have a favorite flute? Well surprisingly I do...
But it will change tomorrow.


  1. Anonymous9:28 PM

    Hi, I just found your site and the audio and video clips are wonderful.

    Today, a friend gave me a plains flute...about 18" long, with 6 finger holes, and it was listed as being in the key of G#. I tested the bottom note against the piano, and the bottom note is actually an A.

    While I can blow and make a sweet sound on this flute, I would like to know if modern-made plains flutes have a general scale and fingering structure. Whenever possible, I prefer to be able to play written music (I play flute in my church, and use the hymnal mostly)...and I'm wondering if that will be possible with this flute.

    Do you know of any fingering charts that might be applicable? Feel free to respond via email - lahudsonchef (at) yahoo.


  2. Look at the articles page on my website for fingering charts and other tips for playing these instruments.

  3. Anonymous5:49 PM

    Love your work and web site. My wife is always asking me why I need to have so many flutes as well, which I believe is a related question to "which one is your favorite flute." The reason I say they are related is that I answer to her and others with the answer you posted above. I started collecting quenas and antaras from South America. Now I collect NAF's and any other flute I like because they all convey different feelings or moods and that's the beauty of the flute in general.
    Thanks again for what you do for the genre.

  4. Hi Scott,
    Though I'm a musician, I have not been a flute player, and have admired your playing ever since meeting you and buying your CD in Sedona at the 2008 Raw Spirit Fest.

    You and your music inspired me and I just bought a beautiful flute.
    After reading you post above, now I know why the decision to pick just 'one' was so difficult! of course!
    I ended up buying a Birch Window Rock Concert Flute by Odell Borg at the recent NAMM show is Anaheim.
    Not knowing much about flutes at all I was drawn to this for starters.
    How did I do?
    I have a feeling there will be more to come : )

    Thank you for you Beautiful Inspiration and Music......
    Wendy May

  5. Anonymous12:13 PM

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