Last updated: 3-18-01
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Directions and explanations
Lesson 1b

First, if you have been experiencing any difficulty playing the .wav files within this lesson, go   HERE   for a better understanding of the process required to play these files.

Look at the graphic below  and notice that the displayed image is the same first bar as shown in "lesson-1a".

I'll show a new technique in this lesson and introduce you to the symbol and terminology that I'll be using in the remainder of this lesson. The new terminology is "ripple" and the symbol is a slanted line between the notes that are to be effected by the ripple.

Along with the discussion of the ripple, I'm also going to introduce you to a technique used by many players of the Native American style flute. The term is "vibrato", and it is easily recognized by a slight quivering of the sound produced by any particular note.

Click here to hear an example of vibrato. Before proceeding with the ripple, let me explain a little about vibrato. Anyone can learn it with practice. Vibrato is produced by forcing pulses of breath through the instrument. It's very similiar to the panting that females are taught to do during child-birth. It is also very similiar to couphing, except without the closing of the throat that produces the sound of the cough. Try couphing 5 times in a row. Now try it again without creating the restriction within the throat that creates the sound. Try it again, and this time hold your hand on your belly. You should feel it tense and relax with each pulse of forced breath you create. That's all there is to it. It's quite simple when done very slowly and with lots of practice, it becomes just as simple at higher speeds. Practice that whenever you can. No need to have a flute to your mouth to do it. One of the ways to test to see if the air is coming from the correct place and that you're using your lower muscles correctly, is to hold the backside of your hand in front of you mouth as you do it. The air coming out should be warm, not cold. If it is cold it is coming from your lungs which isn't correct. Okay, that's enough of that for now. I'll discuss it at a greater length later in the lessons.

The ripple is used by practically all players of the NAF. It's probably the single most recognizable feature that sets this instrument and method of playing it apart from any other.

The fingering for the ripple can be a little difficult for the beginner, but is quickly learned. I'll discuss the ripple shown in the graphic below. Start by covering all of the holes on your flute. Blow into the flute with all of the holes covered and hold it for one beat. That note is known as "E" if your flute is in the key of "E". The next step is a little tricky. The ripple requires that you quickly remove each finger sequentially, starting from the bottom and all the way up to and including the finger covering the 2nd hole from the top. As soon as the second finger from the top is lifted, place it back down just as quickly. When the 2nd finger comes down to cover the hole, keep it there for one beat (keep blowing) and then continue onto the next note and play it and the note that follows just as you learned it in the first lesson.

In the example sound file, I've added vibrato to the last note slightly which you too can do as you progress in the lessons. I've also shortened the length of the beat (the duration) of the second note to help compensate for length of ripple. I'll explain more about this later.

Okay, that's a lot to learn so practice it as often as you can. In the next portion of this lesson, I'll show you how to add even more to the first bar to give it yet a little more character. It's really quite amazing what can be done with a very short melody concisting of just 3 notes. Imagine how the entire piece will sound by the time we are finished. It shouldn't be long until you too are able to take a very simple melody that you've heard, or that has been nested in your heart, and reproduce it with your instrument in a way you never thought possible.


First measure of Largo (from Symphony No. 9) arrangement
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Hear it - with ripple
File size: 0.25 meg

Hear it - no ripple
File size: 0.25 meg

Playing a .wav file

Please note that whenever you click on the link to play a .wav file within this lesson, that it will take a while for the file to be transferred to your computer. If using certain browsers, a separate little window will open that will just sit there for a while looking like nothing is happening. However the data is actually being transferred to your computer in the background and will eventually start to play. Patience is required, especially for the larger files which could take 5 minutes or longer to transfer. The smaller ones usually do so in a couple of minutes depending on the speed of your modem. Other browsers will ask you if you want to save the file to your computer. If you answer yes, it will be transferred, and then you can click on the file and it will play in your computer's media player.

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