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A Peruvian man playing an Incan zampoña.
A Peruvian man playing an Incan zampoña.

The pan flute (also known as panpipes) is an ancient musical instrument based on the principle of the stopped pipe, consisting usually of ten or more pipes of gradually increasing length (and, at times, girth). The pan flute has long been popular as a folk instrument, and is considered the ancestor of both the pipe organ and the harmonica, or mouth organ. The pan flute is named for its association with the rustic Greek god Pan. The pipes of the pan flute are typically made from bamboo; other materials used include wood, plastic, and metal.

Another term for the pan flute is syrinx, after the sound-producing organ in birds. The plural of syrinx is syringes, from which the modern word syringe is derived. (Pan pipes is both singular and plural.) Other names for the instrument include the medieval fistula panis.


[edit] Structure

The pipes comprising it are stopped at one end, at which the standing wave is reflected giving a note an octave lower than that produced by an open pipe of equal length. In the traditional South American style, pipes are fine-tuned to correct pitch by placing small pebbles or dry corn kernels into the bottom of the pipes. Contemporary makers of curved Romanian-style panpipes use wax (commonly beeswax) to tune new instruments. Special tools are used to place or remove the wax. Corks and rubber stoppers are also used, and are easier to quickly tune pipes.
The god Pan teaching Daphnis to play the syrinx
The god Pan teaching Daphnis to play the syrinx

[edit] Playing

The pan flute is played by blowing horizontally across the open end against the sharp inner edge of the pipes. Each pipe is tuned to a note, called the fundamental. By overblowing, that is, increasing the pressure of breath and tension of lips, odd harmonics (notes whose frequencies are odd-number multiples of the fundamental) may also be produced. The Romanian panflute has the pipes arranged in a curved array, enabling the player to easily reach all the notes by simply swiveling their head. These instruments can also play all the sharps and flats, with a special technique of both tilting the pipes and jaw movement. An advanced player can play any scale and in any key. There are two styles of vibrato possible, hand vibrato and breath vibrato. In hand vibrato, the player applies a gentle motion to one end of the panflute (usually the high end) in much the same way as the violin vibrato is achieved by rocking the hand from the wrist. Breath vibrato is the same technique used by players of the flute and other woodwinds.

[edit] Variations

The European curved-style pan flute was popularized by the Romanian musician Gheorghe Zamfir, who toured extensively and recorded many albums of pan flute music in the 1970s, and by several other artists who began recording at the same time. Today there are thousands of devoted players across Europe, Asia and the Americas. Both the curved and traditional South American variations are also very popular in Peruvian traditional groups and other Andean music.

This simple instrument was used in some songs by The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Bee Gees, Agustín Lara, Luis Miguel, Aerosmith and Céline Dion, and has enjoyed some popularity in New Age music.

[edit] Types of pan flutes

Chilean panflute, or siku.
Chilean panflute, or siku.

[edit] Panflutists

[edit] External links

Two European pan flutes
Two European pan flutes

This article was started using a Wikipedia article
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