Here are some of the flutes on my collection of Native American flutes. Originally when living in Argentina, I used to play the Adean quenas and monseños, and upon moving to the United States I found the wonderful voice of these Native American flutes. The flute at right was crafted by Chief Arthur Two-Crows, and features an exquisite carving of a bold eagle.
Both the Andean wind instruments and the Native American flutes use the pentatonic scale, making the transition from one to another quite natural.
Pentatonic scales are very common and are found all over the world, including Celtic folk music, Hungarian folk music, West African music, African-American spirituals, American folk music, Jazz, American blues music and rock music, Sami joik singing, children’s songs, the music of ancient Greece and the Greek traditional music and songs from Epirus, Northwest Greece and the music of Southern Albania, the tuning of the Ethiopian krar and the Indonesian gamelan, Philippine Kulintang, melodies of Korea, Malaysia, Japan, China, India and Vietnam (including the folk music of these countries), the Andean music, the Afro-Caribbean tradition, Polish highlanders from the Tatra Mountains, and Western Classical composers such as French composer Claude Debussy. The pentatonic scale is also used on the Great Highland Bagpipe.
The ubiquity of pentatonic scales, specifically anhemitonic modes, can be attributed to the total lack of the most dissonant intervals between any pitches; there are neither any minor seconds (and therefore also no complementary major sevenths) nor any tritones. This means any pitches of such a scale may be played in any order or combination without clashing.
Native American, cedar, by Rick Heller (2001)
This flute, crafted by Rick Heller in 2001, features five holes (G scale), and has a nice timbre and tonal qualities.
Each year, at my birthday, I try and add to my collection. This year hope to add a low A bass flute from one of the few craftsman still creating these wonderful instruments.