Pan flute – Buying Guide, Opinions and Analysis
Many people agree that the pan flute has one of the sweetest and most relaxing sounds among wind instruments. For this reason, it has more and more interpreters. However, if you are going to buy one, you have to take into account some aspects, such as the material from which it is made and the distribution of the tubes. For example, the GEWA 700285 model offers you an ergonomic curved design and is made of bamboo. Another good option can be the Cusco Qt-20 flute , with its traditional Peruvian design and double row of tubes, as well as a very colorful decoration.
Because pan flutes are generally handcrafted instruments, each piece is unique. This determines its appearance, but also the quality of its sound. To help you choose among so many options, we show you a guide to buying the best pan flute, which will be useful to clarify the aspects to take into account in your selection.
Materials and finishes
Originalmente las flautas de pan podían estar elaboradas en arcilla, piedra o madera. Sin embargo, actualmente las encontramos elaboradas principalmente de plástico o madera, siendo muy diversos los tipos que se utilizan en este último material. A este respecto cada intérprete tendrá sus propias preferencias al realizar una comparativa de flautas de pan, pero queremos mencionar que este punto determinará cuánto cuesta el instrumento; siendo, generalmente, más caras las flautas de pan elaboradas en madera. La razón es que los procesos que se utilizan para su fabricación se llevan a cabo de manera manual. Ahora bien, si tu presupuesto es un poco limitado, siempre podrás encontrar una opción buena y económica elaborada de plástico.
Además, no queremos olvidarnos de la apariencia exterior, pues para muchos flautistas es muy importante que se trate de un instrumento bello y que transmita parte de la cultura a la que pertenece. En este sentido, podrían buscarse algunas decoraciones latinoamericanas, africanas, europeas, etc.
Tipos de flautas y distribución de tubos
Aunque se les denomina flautas de pan a todos aquellos instrumentos conformados por tubos en los que se sopla, debes saber que hay diversos tipos, que son en su estructura un poco diferentes y, por lo tanto, deberás elegir cuál es el que buscas.
If you are going to start learning the pan flute, you will have to find the distribution of tubes you need. You need to know if you want one in which the cylinders are positioned next to each other in a linear fashion, or if you prefer one with a double row. The technique will be different to be able to play each type. Although, probably, as you gain skill, it will be easy for you to adapt to one style or another.
Although in appearance the flutes can be very similar, a slight variation in the length of the tubes causes the tuning to be different. This is probably not important if you plan on purchasing a flute for pure decorative purposes. However, if your intention is to learn to play this instrument, you have to make sure that the sound is of quality and is correctly tuned in relation to a musical scale.
In this sense, you will find pan flutes tuned in C major, G major, etc. This point should not be ignored, because if you plan to play a melody that includes, for example, a natural F in its score, you will not be able to play that note on a flute tuned to G major. In case you don’t want to be limited in this regard, you can also find some flutes with a full record of notes. You just have to make sure that the flute has a chromatic tuning.
On the other hand, we want to limit that there are versions of this type of very sophisticated flutes, which are considered professional; since they include the option of altering the tuning in each tube in a simple way through a rod. These flutes have a higher cost, but they meet the needs of expert players looking for versatility for this instrument.
Since each tube included in a pan flute is associated with a note, then a pan flute with more number of tubes will offer a greater range of notes on the musical scale. This must be taken into account so that when interpreting a melody with low and high registers you do not have limitations.
Generally, you can buy flutes that range from 7 to 22 tubes. Of course, the more records, the bigger, heavier and more expensive it could be. In this sense, flutes that have few cylinders may be the most suitable for those who are beginning their musical education. With the passage of time, they could acquire another flute with a greater range of notes and according to their skill level.
Some pan flutes are true works of art, the result of long hours of manual work and their cost is not exactly affordable. The safest thing is that if you want to buy a flute with these characteristics, you want to preserve it from agents that can damage it. In this case, it may be convenient to check if a briefcase or case is included in the purchase package to store the flute and transport it comfortably.
Frequently asked questions
Q1: How to use a pan flute?
The sounds obtained from the pan or pan flute are characterized by their smooth and harmonious timbre, which transmits tranquility to many people. However, you may find it difficult to deliver quality sound.
Among the aspects that you can take into account are the position of the lips and where you send the air. Experienced interpreters recommend finding a mouth position similar to the one you acquire when you pronounce the letter “T”. With this the air gets more impulse, you will achieve notes with greater force and clarity.
In the same way, you must pay attention to the inclination of the flute, this will be much more relevant if it is one of two rows of tubes, since the technique to access the notes involves constantly moving it from top to bottom.
On the other hand, as with any wind instrument, it is important that you learn to control your breathing. This will prevent you from experiencing dizziness and headaches after your first few practice sessions. In the same way, it is convenient to know that flutes with high notes are usually easier, because they do not need you to project so much air to emit sound. On the contrary, those pan flutes with low notes need more air, so that it travels all the cylinder. At first it is normal that you find it difficult to give power to these notes.
Finally, we do not want to forget to mention that the maintenance of the flute is important, especially if it is a wooden one. In these cases, you should keep it away from moisture, avoid exposing it to sudden changes in temperature or clean it with damp cloths. It is better that you use a special oil, being careful not to place it where your lips touch the instrument, unless it is toxic free substances.
Q2: How to make a pan flute?
There are numerous options for making your own pan flute. You could use practically any cylinder-shaped material that is hollow; for example, straws, PVC pipes, etc. If you have a bamboo at home, with the surplus of its pruning you could make one, you just have to make sure that the wood is completely dry.
Proceed to cut the cylinders, respecting the lengths, so that they are smaller and smaller, with the intention of executing different tones. Don’t forget to close one end so that the air can produce sound. Later, you can help yourself with a digital tuner to verify that each tube gives the tone you want. Finally, it only remains to place each tube next to the other and tie them together.
Q3: Where is the pan flute from?
The clear origin of this instrument has not been determined, since there are similar versions made in Greece 400 years BC. C .; Traces of a similar musical instrument can also be found in the Han dynasty of China 200 BC. However, its greatest diffusion has been in Latin America, where it has been part of popular folklore for hundreds of years, forming an important part of its music.
Q4: Why is it called a pan flute?
This name is due to the fact that in Greek mythology the God Pan is attributed the creation of this instrument for the first time. However, its variations have other names such as zampoña, syringa, siku, etc.
Q5: Which is better, wooden or plastic pan flute?
The choice of material for the pan flute will depend on the player. In this sense, each flute will have a different nuance in its sound depending on the raw material chosen. Your choice could also be subject to the type of maintenance and its lightness. While plastic is easy to clean and is not affected by moisture, wood requires more delicate treatment and special maintenance, to prevent its structure from fracturing.
Q6: How do you tune a pan flute?
In simple flutes, the length of each cylinder that makes up the flute is what generates the tone it will emit. Therefore, to tune the flute, you must adjust that length until you achieve the desired note. However, there are tunable versions that have a small piece of wood that can be adjusted with a rod, so that it must be moved up or down until the cylinder generates the exact note.
Q7: Which is better, pan flute with tubes in line or in parallel?
This depends on the type of flute and the skill of the player, who may be more or less comfortable with one arrangement compared to the other.