Flute Lore, Flute Tales: Artifacts, History, and Stories About the Flute
Author: Katherine L. Holmes
Would you believe that about 35 thousand years ago a human carved a flute the wing bone of a griffon vulture? Believe it or not it happened in today’s Germany back where Neanderthals roamed for thousands and thousands of years during the Paleolithic Period. But, there is more that will excite the reader as you learn about these Paleolithic humans who also captured a swan and some within this group made flutes from river reeds and even carved a flute out of a swan’s wing bone. As you enter the their world and see the amazing pictures of the past shared by our author you too will hear the sounds of the flute, learn the history of what so many of us played in school, the Tonette or the recorder and take many trips back in time to learn more about the many types of flutes that people played and the reasons why.
Some played the transverse flute, which is held to the side and quite difficult to play. Neolithic musicians played this type of flute. You will never guess where: Texas. The oldest one was called the East-Texas flute as we learn about the panpipe, which is illustrated on page 12 and the ocarina, which looks really interesting at the bottom of this page. Panpipes as the author relates are “simple vertical flutes bound together.” Next we learn more about the ocarinas made of clay more than 8000 years ago. Next the author shares more about the ancient artifacts. The ancient Irish played wooden flutes. Vertical flutes were played in Mesopotamia, today’s Middle East. History shows on many stone carvings pictures of these flute players. A Mesopotamian believe it or not played a silver flute. Sir Leonard Wooley and archeologist discovered them and called them The Silver Pipes of Ur. These pipes were 4500 years old and copies of the pipes were made, but to play them you will have to learn for yourself or better yet do what I did go to the UTube link and here the magnificent sound yourself. As it says under the video’s screen this is a duet between the reconstructed lyre or ur and some reconstructed silver pipes found in the same grave. “This is a duet between the reconstructed lyre of ur and some reconstructed silver pipes found in the same grave. Although the lyre strings didn’t survive the intervening years, we can reconstruct a musical scale from the position of the holes in the pipes.” The sound is sad, funeral like. Listening carefully they almost sound like bagpipes. The author continues with the history of the clarinet and oboe sounds followed by why the Babylonians valued their flute as shown or written The Epic of Gilgamesh. The author shares the legend and we learn more about his fate and his adventure with a goddess named Ishtar. Next we learn about Ancient Israel and the vertical flute or pipes played at important religious and political events. The following chapter embraces the Pipes of Greece and a great story involving Pan and Panpipes. Wait until you learn what he does to King Midas. Next the author spotlights a great tale about a prince and his desire to marry the King’s daughter. Flutes follow flute playing in The Roman Empire across Africa which focuses once again on the vertical flute used as part of tribal ceremonies in nations stretching as the author shares across Africa, Ethiopia, the Sudan, Ghana, Senegal and China. Check out the African Flute carved from bamboo on page 27. Better yet listen to the sound yourself. It has a jungle like sound. If you listen to it carefully. Listen to Flute solo, Harrar People, Ethiopia. African Music. Look at the faces of the people and experience the sound as they do. Listen to “Bamboo Flute & African Kora” This one is so beautiful and the melody and the sound will bring a special smile to your face. Chapter 6 focuses on Kurdish Herders and the UTube video brings it to life. Read the amazing tale of the young shepherd and his desire to win over the rich man’s daughter. Flutes of the Orient and Polynesian Pipes follow India and the Side-Blown flute. Next she shares the many flutes here in America and how it affected the Aztec culture. Ocarinas in Central and South America were made of clay and can you believe it they were shaped in likeness of a human or animal. Check out the Zampona and the Tarka flute on pages 44-45. My favorite and I bet you would love these too: The healing flute and the love flute. Find out how more about them when you read Chapter 11. Better yet read the tale within this chapter and find out if the young man won the girl using the Love Flute.
Europe’s recorder and the German Flute as spotlighted next and the modern flute. One of my favorite operas is The Magic Flute. The author shares the story as we learn the role of the flute. But, Mozart who had perfect pitch did not like the flute. The wooden tube with the holes in it bothered him as the person blew the sounds across the mouth hole. As a violinist as I learned that you can change the tones by moving your fingers across the string. An accomplished or practiced violinist can match the note of another. Flute players could not change the pitch of single notes that easily. Learn how they used half holes and check out the flutes on pages 58 and 59 and see how they evolved. We have all watched older movies and have seen the fife played as pictured on page 60 and learn about one of the last classical composers to write fro the recorder: Vivaldi. Learn more about him, his music and how both recorder and piccolo soloists perform his concertos as you learn about the little flute and the flautino.
Chapter 16 is presents Rural Folktales stating with The Shepherd’s Flute and then in Wales and Ireland we read tales of people that stumble into the fairy world where they might be kidnapped. As you listen to the Irish play the windpipes and the song called Black Rogue. Listen to the Black Rogue/tripping up the stairs. It sounds like an Irish Jig. The collection is completed with The Flautist Composer, the Rise of the Female Flautist and Fame of the 20th century and Marcel Moyse. The author shares his bio and his rise to fame within this chapter. We also learn about Jean-Pierre Rampal and James Galway. The final chapters focus on women in the profession, the Jazz Flute and Traditional Flutes Reach New Audiences. To learn what they are you have to read the final chapter for yourself, learn the terminology using the extensive glossary of terms, the resources listed at the end and take the journey along with this reviewer as you begin in prehistoric time to the present and learn the history of one of the most beautiful instruments in the world The Flute.
The illustrations enhance the information and the chapters are filled with interesting information that kept this reviewer glued to the printed page and really focused on what information the author shared.
Let’s give this book FIVE GOLDEN VERTICAL FLUTES
Fran Lewis: Reviewer