I build all my flutes to meet concert quality performance. If you're an experienced musician you know why this is important. For the novice flute player this means you'll have a clear sounding instrument that is fun and easy to play, bringing joy into your practice straight from the beginning, 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:
- Tuned to A=440Hz or A=432Hz reference at medium breath pressure. When playing high notes on the Native American Flute it is common to play these more expressively, hence use more breath. My flutes are tuned to this. When going up the scale, I therefore advise to gradually use a little more breath. In this way the flute can be played with full emotion, while still in the correct tuning.
- Able to play all of the chromatic notes in its range, except for 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)
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.
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 go to my flute store.
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'.
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.