OUR FIRST FLUTES

There is something about rim-blown flutes—something primal, that lends itself to a relationship with the instrument that is very different from other flutes. The better you get to know these flutes, the closer this relationship becomes.

End-Blown or Rim-blown – Oblique or Centered

The end-blown or rim-blown flute is played by directing a stream of air against the edge of the upper end of a tube. Unlike recorders or Native American flutes, there is no duct or flue voicing the flute. Most rim-blown flutes are played ”obliquely”, at an angle slightly downward and to the side. Notched flutes like the Andean Quena or Japanese Shakuhachi are also considered rim-blown, with the addition of a notch or valley in the edge, and are played “Centred”, downward, front and centre.

One of Our Earliest Cultural Accomplishments

Rim-blown flutes are first known from the middle palaeolithic, 40,000 years ago. Truly original, they were our first flutes and are widespread throughout our history. They were used in some of our earliest music and depicted in some our earliest art and writing.

There is something about rim-blown flutes—something primal that leads to a relationship with the instrument that is very different from other flutes. Especially natural flutes, where there are nuances in each that rapidly become part of this relationship, part of your muscle and memory. The more you know this flute, the closer this relationship becomes.

In the Americas, rim-blown flutes were used in religious ceremony and during preparation of medicines. Indigenous rim-blown flutes have been depicted across the American southwest in religious art and symbolism as part of a “magical” rite. When you know them, it’s easy to understand why this would be.

A Whole New (Old) World

Maybe one of the best reasons for learning to play rim-blown flutes, is that it literally opens up a whole new world of time and place in flutes. Learn this one, and your already half way there.

In modern day Turkey the Ney plays a prominent role in folkloric music. The Persian ney, as well as the Arabian Ney and Kawala are similar, and play similar roles. China has the xiao, Japan has the shakuhachi and Hotchiku, and Korea has the Danso. In Greece, it’s the Floghera. In the Ukraine, the Frilka, and throughout the Balkans, of course the Kaval. There are Rim-blown flutes from Russia, Southeast Asia and several from Africa.

In Southamerica, people of the Andes play the Quena and Quenacho. And in the American Southwest, the Basketmaker culture, Ancestral Puebloans, and contemporary cultures developed a number of rim-blown flutes over a period of around two thousand years. Predecessors to the Pueblo, Mojave, Yuma, Navajo, and Hopi flute traditions.

Versatility, Adaptability & Control

Compared to other playing styles, playing from the rim is considerably more versatile. It allows for an adaptability hard to find in other flutes, and can be more forgiving. The biggest advantage of the rim-blown flute (or transverse flute) over the recorder or fipple-blown flutes, is that the player has direct control over the angle and speed at which the air from the lips strikes the rim or edge that produces sound. This direct access to the edge, changing intensity and position relative to the lips gives the player a greater range in pitch, volume and expression. It also aids in “overblowing” to achieve the higher registers.

How Hard is it… Really?

It’s not hard, no harder than anything else worth learning. It just requires a little time, technique and patience. Give it this much, and it will teach you. Like learning any musical instrument it can be intimidating, relax that’s the worst part. In the end it’s very much worth the effort, and may well be one of the more satisfying musical journeys you will take.

With your permission…

We’ed love to stay in touch — We just want to keep you up-to-date with new stuff coming online, learning opportunities, and on our latest inspirations, and creations.

  • Your name (nick name), and email address will be added to our mailing list.
  • This information will never be shared or sold, and you will never receive more than one or two mailings in a given month.
  • You can cancel, “unsubscribe” at any time, and your name and email address will be permanently removed.

Thank you for supporting us at KunKuMan.

KM 1.5 - Camino a Paron
Cordillera Blanca, Peru

Join KunKuMan!

Join KunKuman and Get more “Yapa!”…along with Discounts, Free Shipping, and up-to-date news and info on our latest discoveries, inspirations, and creations.

Join KunKuMan!

Join KunKuman and Get more “Yapa!”…along with Discounts, Free Shipping, and up-to-date news and info on our latest discoveries, inspirations, and creations.


Review our Privacy Policy / Cookie Policy /

Copyright © 2024 KunKuMan / Cordillera Blanca, Peru

Review our Privacy Policy / Cookie Policy /

Privacy Policy / Cookie Policy /

Copyright © 2024 KunKuMan / Cordillera Blanca, Peru
Copyright © 2024 KunKuMan / Cordillera Blanca, Peru