Double Drone Flute

A look at the a very unique flute from
Chasing the Sun on Lost Canyons


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Native American flute music by Scott August
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Lost Canyons
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DISTANT SPIRITS
SACRED DREAMS
NEW FIRE
ANCIENT LIGHT
LOST CANYONS
RADIANT SKY

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CHASING THE SUN -DOUBLE DRONE FLUTE

There is a lot of experimentation going on in the world of Native American flute. Many makers are trying different designs and combinations to come up with some very interesting flutes. The history of flute making is one of change spread over thousands of years but recently the amount of experimentation has been increasing at a tremendous rate staring about ten years ago with the first bass NAFs made by Hawk and Geri Littlejohn and continues today with many makers. These new designs include bass flutes, drone flutes and double flutes made from a variety of woods and clay and other materials.

My latest recording Lost Canyons features one of these very unusual Native American flutes on track #10: a triple chambered flute made by Pat Haran which is best described as a double drone flute.

haran_9316-800.jpg

WHAT IS A DRONE FLUTE?
Before we take a closer look at Pat's flute let's take quick look at what a drone flute is. The principle behind a drone flutes is fairly simple. A drone flute is composed of two joined flutes in one body. One flute looks and plays like any normal NAF, the other typically has no finger holes and therefore can only play one note: a drone. Think Bagpipes.


Drones
A drone is a single note, or chord, that is played throughout much or all of a piece of music, usually defining the tonality or key.
_

If we look at the Pat Haran flute from just the top it looks like a regular drone flute.

haran_9314-800.jpg

We can see two flutes running parallel to each other, one with finger holes, one without. The one without is the drone. On most Native American drone flutes the drone is typically tuned to the lowest pitch or root note of the playable flute. As you can see in the photo above there are two blocks and two sound holes denoting two flutes. The bottom flute has finger holes while the top, the drone, does not. Assuming there are no thumb holes, since both flutes are the same length the drone is most likely tuned to the bottom note, the root or fundamental note of the playable flute's scale.

Drone flutes don't have to be tuned to the fundamental note, they can be tuned to any note the maker wants. Most often these include the minor 3rd or 5th. This is easily done by putting in finger holes in the drone chamber that are not meant to be played but only to raise the pitch of the flute. We looked at a couple of these in an earlier post, one made by Rich Halliburton of Querencia Flutes.

DSCN7857_e800

In the photo above the drone chamber has three finger holes that allow the drone to play on the 5th of the scale. (The small holes in the middle are for leather pads that you can cover the drone holes with.) Take a closer look at this flute.

CHASING THE SUN
Pat Haran's Double Drone, or triple chambered, flute
The Pat Haran F# double drone flute that I played on
Chasing the Sun on Lost Canyons is made of Black Limba (not walnut as I incorrectly called it in the liner notes). The flute is 22" long and each chamber has bore size of 3/4". This flute works on the same principle as a regular drone flute but has two drones instead of just one. There are two chambers or flutes on the top and one below.

haran_9314-800.jpg
Two chambers on the top.

haran_9313-800.jpg
One chamber on the bottom

The top chambers are made up of one playable side just like any six holed NAF along side a drone tuned to the root. The bottom chamber is a drone with three holes that tune it to the fifth. To allow for easier playing Pat put the second drone below the playable chamber and root drone giving the end view of the flute a unique triangle design.

haran_9307-800.jpg
When viewed from the end you can see the triangle
shape that gives this flute a very distinct look.

The flute is made from black limba with accents of redwood and padauk. The blocks are made of redwood. Pat's fine craftsmanship and attention to detail are evident in all his flutes and this flute is no exception.

haran_9305-800.jpg
Black limba with redwood blocks

Pat has given each chamber it's own mouthpiece allowing the player to produce sounds in one, two or all three chambers simultaneously. Lots of flexibility.

\haran_9320-800.jpg
Three mouthpiece

As you can see what makes this flute a Double drone is that it has has two drone chambers tuned to different pitches. As is typical the first drone is tuned to the root. The second drone, on the bottom, is tuned to the fifth.

In Chasing the Sun I tried to take advantage of everything this flute has to offer. Playing the main chamber solo; the main chamber plus the root drone; the main chamber plus the fifth drone; playing all three chambers; and even using my thumb to cover the top hole on the bottom chamber to lower that drone from the fifth to the fourth. About the only thing I didn't do was play just the two drones together...

Lets hear this flute in action. The following samples are all taken from the song Chasing the Sun.

Sample #1
In the first sample the flute is being played with the root drone. This is a chromatically descending melody using a lot of crossed fingering.


Sample #1
Click the play icon to listen

Sample #2
This sample has the same tune as sample #1 but this time all three chambers are being played. Again, this is a chromatically descending melody and to make it even more interesting I also cover and uncover the top hole of the drone tuned to the 5th to make it tuned to a 4th temporarily.


Sample #2
Click the play icon to listen

Sample #3
Here the main flute is being played with the bottom drone on the fifth. Like sample #2 I'm once again closing and opening the top hole of the drone tuned to the 5th to change the harmony down to a 4th.


Sample #3
Click the play icon to listen


Drone Flutes vs. Double Flutes
Drone flute are not to be confused with Double flutes or harmony flutes. Like Drone flutes Double flutes also have two chambers but each chamber has playable finger holes, usually three, and are made to be played simultaneously, producing moving harmonies. Another way to spot a double flute is that the two chambers sometimes are of different lenghts. Many also have a thumb hole.
We've looked at a double flute in a earlier post.
DSCN9804_400

A LITTLE BACK STORY
I got this flute from a fun encounter. I was visiting a friend of mine in south Orange County and he was showing me his flutes. He had one of these Double Drones and after trying out his I was struck by a common Native American flute player affliction: "Flute Envy."

Recognizing the symptoms and knowing the cure for "Flute Envy" I called Pat and ordered a flute for myself. I immediately felt better even though it took at while until my flute arrived. Once it did arrive I quickly began to delve into all it's wonderful possibilities. I find that for me Flute Envy seems to strike in clusters. If I can walk away from one flute I can walk away from others. However, I am considering starting a Flute Envy support group to help other players...

Flute Envy or Flute Obsession Syndrome (FOS)
Noun
from Vulgar Latin: Flabeolum Invidia

1. A common condition of longing that strikes Native American flute players quickly and with great force.

Envy denotes a longing to possess something awarded to or achieved by another

Flute Envy is a subset of Flute Obsession Syndrome (FOS), which is a subset of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Symptoms and Causes
Exposure to another player's flute or a flute for sale that produces a strong desire to possess that flute accompanied by light headiness, anxiety, sweating and and urge to relieve one's self of money.

The only known cure is to call up the maker of the flute that caused the Flute Envy and order one. Like many medical treatments this cure can be very expensive, however once an order is placed the afflicted person returns to some state of normality.

Loved ones should not attempt to interfere with anyone suffering from Flute Envy. Victims do not respond to sense or reason and are known to act impulsively. Already owning a NAF in the same key does not act as a vaccine for Flute Envy.

OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES
How to Buy a NAF, part 1
How to Buy a NAF, part 2
How to care for your NAF
Playing your first NAF scale
Strengthening your Fingers
Playing from the Heart Part-1
Playing from the Heart Part-2
NEW Recording your NAF, basic, easy Home Studio set up
NEW Starting your Own Music Label part 1

You can find an index of all the articles including maker and flute profiles HERE

You can also find a list of makers who's flutes I play on my web site.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE NATIVE AMERICAN FLUTE
NAF History and Construction


Please support these articles with your purchases
Native American flute music by Scott August
Sacred Dreams
Native American flute music by Scott August
Ancient Light
Lost Canyons
Lost Canyons
DISTANT SPIRITS
SACRED DREAMS
NEW FIRE
ANCIENT LIGHT
LOST CANYONS
RADIANT SKY

BUY NOW!

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© 2008 Cedar Mesa Music. This article, all images and sound files sound files are the property of Cedar Mesa Music, BMI. All rights reserved.



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