Flutopedia - an Encyclopedia for the Native American Flute

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How the Design of a Native American Flute Affects the Way it Plays

Here are some observations, from the perspective of a player, about the affects that the various design aspects of the Native American flute have on the playing characteristics of the Native American flute. Of course, there are no absolutes or value judgments here. Just a comparison between two hypothetical flutes that differ only in one particular aspect.

Finger Hole Size

Flutes with smaller finger holes respond to changes in breath pressure with greater changes in pitch vs. flutes with larger finger holes.

Direction Holes

The fundamental note (all finger holes closed) is more resonant on flutes without direction holes versus flutes with direction holes.

Flutes with direction holes have a more consistent timber between the fundamental note and the next note up versus flutes without direction holes.

Under Construction

Mouth hole size


Bore length / diameter ratio


Ramp Smoothness

A flute with a smooth ramp that supports smooth airflow into the flue will tend to overblow less vs. a flute that has a ramp with sharp edges or an irregular shape.





Splitting Edge

A flute with a sharp splitting edge will have a brighter, more modern sound, with more prominant overtones versus a flute with a more blunt splitting edge.


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To cite this page on Wikipedia: <ref name="Goss_2022_design_play"> {{cite web |last=Goss |first=Clint |title=How the Design of a Native American Flute Affects the Way it Plays |url=http://www.Flutopedia.com/design_play.htm |date=7 June 2022 |website=Flutopedia |access-date=<YOUR RETRIEVAL DATE> }}</ref>