ANCIENT TERRITORIES FLUTE

A look at a Native American flute
made by John Stillwell


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Native American flute music by Scott August
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Ancient Territories flute

The number of Native American style flute makers is growing everyday. It's getting harder and harder to find flutes that are different enough and also well made to fork over the money for another flute. However these makers are out there -which is good for NAF enthusiasts but bad for bank balances- and one of these is John Stillwell of Ancient Territories flutes.

I first met John at the debut meeting of the Inland Empire Flute Circle and it was obvious that he was doing things that I had never seen before. At that time all of his flutes had end caps made of multiple layers of contrasting colored wood in a distinctive chevron pattern. The workmanship was first rate. Turns out John has a background in cabeint making so he knows how to work with wood. The other difference was that instead of cutting his blanks on the horizonal he cuts most of his on the vertical so that the seam runs through the finger holes and sound holes. The final touch was that the flutes flaired slightly on the top making for a subtile flatting of the finger board, the top of the flute where the finger holes are.

All of this made for a very unusual looking flute. They also sounded good too and since that time John has constantly experimented to make his flutes even better.

For good or for bad many flute makers stop experimenting once they get a template that works for them. For many makers this is not a problem once they get a good sounding flute. John however seems to be driven to strive for the next level of his craft.

He has experimented with lenghtening the slow air chamber (I personally call the SAC the High Pressure Chamber as it's where the back pressure builds up). He also has made flutes with copper tubing in them that have a drain opening on the bottom of the flute to prevent watering out. Others have tried similar designs as well, but this is very cutting edge still.

Like most makers, John's flutes have gotten better with time. He recently asked me to try out a flute in the key of A and this is the flute we're going to be looking at.

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The is flute 21" inches long with a 7/8" inch bore. The flute is made from Maple and Zebra wood with a turquoise disc that holds the leather tie. Although not visible in any of these images this flute has the slightly flatter top finger board. John also does a slight wedge on the bottom end of his flutes. Other makers do this too, the most dramatic being Laughing Crow flutes.

This flute is unlike any other I own in that it is made up of four quarters of wood. If you look closely at the photo above and the one below you'll see there is both a horizonal and vertical seam. John does this by gluing two pieces together making two halves and then the flute is constructed just like any other flute. Of course with John's flutes there still another twist, as mentioned earler the main seam is on the vertical and runs through the finger holes.

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In the image above and below you can clearly see the seam on the vertical running through the finger holes.

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Note the detail and fine craftmanship in the placement of the grain on the flute and block. The block itself is made up of three pieces of onlayed wood.

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Unlike some of John's flutes this one is lacking the muliple wood end caps and also doesn't have any special non-wetting-out tubing that some of his special flutes have. What it does have is a bright, clear sound. The sound is very clean and crisp and can play long gentle legato passages yet still handle hard core double and tripple touguing techniques. While testing it out in my studio it easily handled everything I threw at it.

Listen to a sample of this flute

I recently made a point to playing an improvisation on this flute during a performance last month. The resulting song is called Earth Solitude and is the most recent free MP3 download avaible to members of my E-mailing List. If you're a member please check the Member's Section on my website www.scottaugust.com. If you're not a member you can sign up here.

If you want to read past article of other flutes and their makers visit the Echoes From The Road section located on the More Stuff page. You can also find a Makers page there too with their contact information. Those makers that have been profiled have a link next to their name. We've looked at a lot of skilled and talented makers with more to come.


OTHER POSTS TO CHECK OUT
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
Recording your NAF, basic, easy Home Studio set up
NEW Starting your Own Music Label part 1
NEW The Basic Scale of the Anasazi Flute

You can find an index of all the articles HERE

DO YOU NEED A FLUTE?
Visit the
Cedar Mesa Music Store. Members of my E-Mailing list get a 10% discount on all flutes we sell.

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
DISTANT SPIRITS
Nominee Native American
Music Award



SACRED DREAMS
Winner! Native American
Music Award



NEW FIRE
Nominee
Native American
Music Award

Winner!
Indian Summer Music Award
ANCIENT LIGHT
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The Music and Images
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Scott August




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