Professional tuning

I build all my flutes to meet concert quality performance. If you're an experienced musician you know why this is important. You'll have a clear sounding instrument that is fun and easy to play, and you'll be able to play in tune together with other instruments.

Concert quality performance

A flute is either in tune, or it is out of tune. To ensure the quality of my instruments I tune them according to western concert standards, applying the following set of rules:

  • Able to play all of the chromatic notes in its range, except the minor second
  • Tuned with equal temperament note spacing of 100 cents
  • In tune at 40-60% relative humidity
  • In tune at room temperature 20-22°C (68-72°F equivalent)
  • Tuned to A=440Hz or A=432Hz reference at medium breath pressure.
  • All notes in the first octave in tune within 10 cents max. deviation

Both Minor/Major second upper register notes, depending on your flute, need breath pressure adjustments to be in tune, or should use one of these alternative fingerings.

Professional tuning of a Padauk native american flute

Pentatonic & full chromatic scale

Native American flutes are usually tuned to a basic pentatonic minor scale with five notes (penta means five in Greek) and five holes: one hole for every note in the scale. All notes in the pentatonic scale are in perfect harmony so you cannot play mistakes. Hence they're accessible for beginner players, and easy to improvise on.

While this pentatonic scale is beautiful in its simplicity, it is limited. In western music we use the chromatic scale (chroma = twelve in Greek) that has twelve notes per octave.

Playing western music on a standard pentatonic flute is therefore often impossible, because it's missing more than half of the notes. Therefore I tune all Prana flutes to a full chromatic scale while preserving the original pentatonic scale and fingering.

This extended chromatic tuning is obtained by cross-finger combinations (except for the minor second) giving all Prana flutes more than double the notes available, while still being easy to play as any other pentatonic flute. This opens up your flute to an unlimited variety of different scales.

432Hz, 440Hz & other frequencies

Every quality instrument is tuned to a reference frequency. The international standard reference for musical instruments is A=440Hz. This means that all instruments that are tuned to this reference will play in tune together. So if you're looking to play together with other musicians, 440Hz is your advised tuning.

However a flute can be tuned to any other reference.  432Hz is an alternative tuning, said to be more in balance with the earth and the human body. 432Hz tuning is therefore widely used in music healing & therapy, shamanism, and meditation/yogic practices. If any of these practices is what you're planning on using your Native american flute for, 432Hz is your frequency.

If you're looking for a flute tuned to any other specific tuning (444Hz, 415Hz,...) just get in touch and let me know what tuning your prefer. I make custom flutes also. To see which flutes I have readily available take a look in my flute store.

Windshield design

When playing outdoors, wind can interfere with your flute, at times making it even impossible to make a sound. To counteract this effect my flutes have a windshield designed in the block. It is the two parallel extensions coming out of the down side of the block protecting both sides of the 'True Sound Hole'.

 

A walnut feather totem on an Olive Native american style prana flute

 

This design makes a big difference when playing while there is a light breeze, making my flutes enjoyable to play and perform outdoors. Keep in mind however you are still playing a wind instrument, and it is impossible to cancel out all wind influence.

If you want to know more about the way I make my flutes and the step-by-step process I go through when crafting them, read my page on how I make flutes.

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