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Intervals on Native American Flutes

When we first begin improvising or composing melodies, creating melodies that move up or down by one note on the scale are the most natural. They involve a minimum of finger movement, sound familiar to the ear, and seem to nicely fit the Native American flute, especially in a contemplative or meditative mood. These melodies are called stepwise melodies.

A leap involves a larger melodic jump, and can create a dramatically different feel. Leaps are a great melodic tool when you want to call attention, change the feel, or provide contrast to a stepwise melody.

Songs and Leaps

To help players make a connection between songs that they know and leaps on the flute, we have developed a few charts.

Click on the image below to download a Intervals on Native American flutes - Common Fingerings - F# based version with two pages. The first page shows a set of popular songs where the first two notes of the song demonstrate a leap interval. It also shows the fingerings for getting that interval on the flute, from the all-holes-closed notes.

Intervals on Native American flutes - Common Fingerings - F# based

Intervals on Native American flutes — Common Fingerings — F# based PDF Version

All the Leaps on the Flute

The next thing we can look at is all the leaps on the flute (without overblowing).

The second page of the PDF file shows all the pairs of fingerings that produce the same intervals. They aren't the same notes, but the pairs of notes are the same distance apart (in terms of musical semitones, or relative frequencies).

Intervals on Native American flutes - Common Fingerings - F# based

Intervals on Native American flutes — Common Fingerings — F# based PDF Version

Note that the PDF has pages for all combinations of six-hole and five-hole flutes, with finger diagrams in both upright and inverted directions.

Using Leaps

As with many new skills on the flute, we begin by practicing the basic mechanics of the technique. Getting multiple fingers to lift and fall accurately can take a few minutes a day for a week or two.

While trying this out, keep your ears open to the difference in sound between the leaps and stepwise playing. What emotion do they create? Is there a difference between ascending and descending leaps? Can you incorporate leaps into your ornaments?

Other Fingerings

Variants of the first two pages of the above PDF (for six-hole flutes with mouth-end-up finger diagrams) have been done for other situations:

  • Finger diagrams specific to High-Spirits mid-range A minor flutes, with staff notation rooted in F# PDF Version.

Other Languages

Japanese-language versions of 音程 — ネイティブアメリカンフルート have been done for High-Spirits mid-range A minor flutes, with staff notation in both A minor and F# minor:

Intervals on Native American flutes - Common Fingerings - A based

音程 — ネイティブアメリカンフルート — High Spirits Mid-Tone A Minor Fingering — A based PDF Version

 

Intervals on Native American flutes - Common Fingerings - F# based

音程 — ネイティブアメリカンフルート — High Spirits Mid-Tone A Minor Fingering — F# based PDF Version

 

 
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To cite this page on Wikipedia: <ref name="Goss_2017_naf_intervals"> {{cite web |last=Goss |first=Clint |title=Intervals on Native American Flutes |url=http://www.Flutopedia.com/naf_intervals.htm |date=3 February 2017 |website=Flutopedia |access-date=<YOUR RETRIEVAL DATE> }}</ref>