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A new old song

April 20, 2012

Why is it when I go to cool places and do cool things it never occurs to me to take any photos?  I’ve got an iPhone, for pete’s sake.  All I have to do is whip it out and press a button.  But first I have to remember.  Which I almost never do.

I spent the day with my friend Deborah at the Musical Echoes Native American Flute Festival.  This is the second year in a row that I’ve met her there.  It’s a fascinating festival, and it’s obvious that those who attend are a community in and of themselves.  There are some interesting characters there, for sure; ones with whom I’d love to spend more time.  So many of them are a crazy combo of God-lovers, earth-respecters, art-creators, and people-huggers, and you can tell they are full of wild stories, orneriness, and love.  I like people like that.

The Native American flutes are beautiful.  They have a hauntingly lovely sound, and I’m yet to see one that isn’t a work of art, short of the occasional plastic learner’s flute.  The different woods, styles, and carvings make for breathtaking instruments, each with its own individual voice and character. I really can’t do much more than a minor pentatonic scale fraught with a lot of overblowing and poorly covered notes, but these flutes don’t seem to hold it against me.  If I can manage to get a sound out, it will be a beautiful sound.

I have decided that my flutes are going to be left out in the open for a while instead of tucked away in their protective bags.  When they are in their bags I can walk right by them without taking the time to take them out, play them a bit, and then put them away.  But if they are out I can just pick them up, even if only for 30 seconds of twinking around, and then put them down and go about my business.  I don’t need a lot of time or dedicated purpose to do that, and it will still build the muscle memory I need in order to play them well.  It’s how I learned guitar (many moons ago when I still played) and I believe it’s also going to help with learning to really play these flutes.

I don’t really have a deep fascination with the Native American culture.  Respect, yes, but some people relate to Native American culture on a level that I admit I don’t comprehend–probably in the same way that few people can understand how deeply I am about Kingdom culture.  But these flutes?  I get them.  They have their own songs to play.  Those songs are very old, and you can hear whispers of them when the wind blows through the trees, or when the waves whoosh over themselves before crashing to the shore, or in the chirps and trills and songs of birds and bugs.  And in the same way the wind sounds different when it’s blowing through a pine forest…or through lofty sycamores…or through a stand of naked winter trees…or across a desolate prairie…the variations of sounds these instruments can make seems infinite and deeply organic.

And I like that.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Joann permalink
    April 21, 2012 9:21 am

    I remember going to the Native American festivals while we lived there and I loved going. I love music played on flute, especially on a wooden flute. There is something haunting about it, lovely, and haunting.

  2. April 21, 2012 3:59 pm

    How much fun is that!?! So glad to hear you got to spend time with Deborah. I’ve only heard her play on the video she posted a few years ago. What a beautiful sound!

  3. April 21, 2012 4:31 pm

    I love those Native American flutes too….they are hauntingly beautiful!! I have an interest in Native American culture just because I find it facinating…I found it facinating even before I found out that my great grandmother was full-blooded Sioux. I don’t know exactly what it is and it’s no where near an obsession, but yet, there is a facination….

  4. April 22, 2012 8:19 am

    Cool, Lisa! I went to a similar kind of festival in North Carolina, and while taking in all the various forms of artistry at this festival…..I found myself returning over and over to the Native American corner where flutes were displayed and played, complete with drums and various other instruments….all authentic and hand-made (along with some beautiful singing…that always told a story). Eventually, I just quit fighting it, and sat down on a bale of hay and and lingered, letting the beautiful sounds, along with the history and it’s cultural significance wash over me. I have always had a great admiration and respect for the reverently respectful and spiritual roots, within the various tribes of the Native American Indian.

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