Category: world music

Native American Flute ~ Jazz Instrument?

Most don’t think of jazz music when someone mentions the Native American flute. The instrument is best known for a sound that’s usually described as ethereal, spiritual, haunting — the traditional allure of the native flute. But tradition is being upended, and artists around the world are blending the Native American flute into a variety of genres, including jazz fusion. As the new album Within the Mystic from musician and author C.S. Fuqua attests, the native flute is gradually becoming known as an instrument for all genres. 

Fuqua’s first six albums, WindPoem ~ Native American Flute Meditations I-VI, celebrate the traditional sound of the native flute. On his seventh album, Different Direction, Fuqua began an exploration of the flute’s range, incorporating it into music that combines influences from bluegrass, rock, jazz, and traditional music to create a genre best described as world fusion. Within the Mystic continues to expand the flute’s range, drawing on an eclectic blend of styles and genres to create a sound that is as familiar as it is unique.

Musicians and composers worldwide are increasingly exploring the native flute as far more than an instrument of traditional music. Performers such as Jonny Lipford, R. Carlos Nakai, and the jazz band The Rippingtons have incorporated the flute’s haunting melodies into jazz, rock, blues, and classical compositions. Nakai, while best known for his traditional native flute work, was one of the first innovators of the native flute, collaborating with numerous musicians and composers in a variety of genres. Yet, despite the efforts of these artists, the native flute remains stereotyped.

Fuqua’s Within the Mystic contains twelve cuts of world jazz, with native flute featured as primary instrument in most of the songs. As more artists produce albums featuring the native flute in various genres, the instrument will continue to expand its range and popularity, securing a deserved presence in bands of all genres, creating a multi-cultural celebration for the ears.

Within the Mystic is available for streaming and/or purchase from most major music platforms, including Pandora, Deezer, Amazon.com, iTunes, and Fuqua’s music website http://csfuqua.bandcamp.com where the album can be previewed in its entirety.

Fuqua has researched and published extensively on the history, mythology, and crafting of the Native American flute. He’s the author of the acclaimed A Comprehensive Guide ~ The Native American Flute ~ History & Craft. He released the first WindPoem album in 2014. His WindPoem ~ Infinite album was a finalist in the 2019 New Mexico Music Awards. He is available for presentations on the history and craft of the Native American flute. For more information, please contact him at fuqua.cs@gmail.com or visit http://csfuqua.com and http://csfuqua.bandcamp.com.

Simplicity Celebrates Native Flute Complexity

Simplicity, the sixth in the WindPoem ~ Native American Flute Meditations album series by C.S. Fuqua, has been released and is being distributed to everywhere good music’s available. BandCamp has the digital download for $7 and includes unlimited streaming.

Better yet, sign up for the BandCamp WindPoem subscription for $30 and get ALL SIX WindPoem albums, the Sinner’s Suite World Fusion EP, and other bonus materials for immediate download. The annual subscription also includes immediate download of all new WindPoem music released during the subscription period. 

WindPoem music has been praised for its meditative, relaxing quality and is utilized to create a soothing, healing environment for yoga practice, meditation, cancer treatment, hospice care, and more. 

Available now at most online music stores, including Bandcamp, Amazon.com, iTunes, GooglePlay, and more, in CD and/or digital download formats. Stream the WindPoem series at Pandora, Spotify, Youtube Music, and other streaming services.

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Native American Flute ~ A Comprehensive Guide Published

When Native American flute popularity exploded in the 1980s and ’90s, the public latched onto the “love flute” myth as a history-based tale, that Native Americans had used the flute strictly as a courting tool. Other myths associated with the flute — that it was a gift from the Great Spirit to set trapped souls free, that it was a gift from Woodpecker to help a lost boy find his way home — were ignored, forgotten, and the instrument was promoted distinctly as a man’s instrument.

It isn’t. It’s much more.

The flute’s documented, celebrated history is detailed in the new book Native American Flute: A Comprehensive Guide ~ History & Craft, the result of nearly three decades of researching, playing, and crafting the native flute. Native American Flute updates and combines into one volume my previous two books on the Native American flute, The Native American Flute: Myth, History, Craft and Native American Flute Craft, to present a comprehensive history of and crafting guide to the native flute. Native American Flute explores the documented history and mythology of the Native American flute, debunking the popular belief that the flute is only a man’s instrument.

As a freelance journalist, author, and musician, I learned to play and craft the native flute in the early 1990s, discovering its history to be extremely rich and diverse. With gender equality a way of life in native cultures before Europeans arrived in the Americas, the popular belief the flute was strictly a man’s instrument just didn’t ring true.

Early accounts of Europeans who came to North America attested the flute played a diverse, intricate role in native life, from entertainment to fertility rituals to travel, even to courting. It had never been an instrument limited to men. instead played by all for varied purposes, but the courting aspect caught the romantic fancy of European readers.

Thanks to people like explorer Carcilaso de la Vega in 1592, Europeans focused on the flute’s courting aspect. According to de la Vega, “…[T]hey did not know how to harmonize measured verse, and were mostly concerned with the passions of love … One might say that he talked with his flute. Late one night, a Spaniard came upon an Indian girl he knew in Cuzco and asked her to return to his lodging, but she said: ‘Let me go my ways, sir. The flute you hear from that hill calls me with such tender passion that I must go toward it. Leave me, for heaven’s sake, for I cannot but go where love draws me, and I shall be his wife and he my husband.’”

As flute popularity has grown, women musicians have had to overcome discrimination and prejudice regarding their playing. Even award-winning flautists like Mary Youngblood have encountered male flautists who refuse to play on the same stage, shamans who refuse to bless a flute before an event, and venues that cancel performances by women when male performers complain. 

Native American Flute sets the record straight, updating and combining the information from Fuqua’s first two books on the flute—The Native American Flute: Myth, History, Craft and Native American Flute Craft—into one volume to present a comprehensive, documented exploration of the native flute’s history and a fully illustrated, step-by-step crafting guide for making both the ancient and modern versions of the Native American flute, an instrument truly for all people.

Native American Flute is a available through most bookstores.

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