What is a pan flute? A pan flute is a wind instrument made from wood or bamboo, using open-ended pipes played by blowing across the top of an opening.
Pan flutes have been around for about 27 centuries and were used in ancient Greece and other civilizations before that time.
The first pan flutes appeared as early as 2600 BCE, according to archaeological evidence found at dig sites within Serbia’s Vinca culture. In addition to being one of the oldest instruments still in use today, it has also spawned countless variations on its design over thousands of years, including those with keys instead of finger holes and everything between.
How does a pan flute work?
A pan flute is a type of end-blown flute. The vibration of an air stream blowing across an open hole at the end of the tube produces sound. The air flows through the straw, vibrating as it goes until it reaches the end, where it is split into two streams – one going up and the other heading down. This creates a vibration in the air column inside of the tube, which can be heard as musical sound waves.
This type of instrument produces unique sounds by having holes covered with fingers on each end (typically seven or eight). A musician blows across an open hole at the top to make vibrations happen, resulting in different pitches depending on how fast he/she is blowing and what size hole they’re putting their finger over. There’s even more potential for variation if two people play one at a time; then, both musicians use different fingerings (i.e., placing their fingers differently) for each person’s pan flute.
The pitch of these sounds depends on how fast or slow you are blowing into it and what size hole you are putting your fingers over. If two people are playing one at a time, they can create harmony by using different fingerings for each pan flute.
Manufacturers modify these instruments by adding keys (for example) to extend its range further than an octave. Some models have multiple pipes arranged like the pipes of an organ; sometimes, extra tubing is added to play the instrument with other instruments.
The pitch of the pan flute is mainly determined by its length, a long tube produces a lower pitch, and a short one gives a higher pitch. Overblowing (increasing the pressure of breath) slightly raises pitch and changes tone quality; blowing makes notes sound purer, whereas overblowing imparts an ugly “harmonically enhanced” sound to them.
The differences between pan flute vs flute
-The pan flute is composed of numerous pipes lined in a row, while a flute is a tube with holes that are stopped by the fingers or keys, held vertically or horizontally, and blown into.
The pan flute consists of a mouthpiece, tuning slide, and the main body made up of numerous pipes, while a flute has only three parts; mouthpiece, head joint (where the embouchure hole is located) foot joint.
-The pan flute is not as thin and long as a flute; it is usually broad and shorter. It has a wider bore than the flute, which causes it to produce lower sounds while a flute produces high-pitched notes.
-A pan flute is usually made of wood, while a flute comes in different materials such as bamboo, plastic, and silver.
-The pan flute has more than one octave, while the flute only has an octave. The overblowing technique can be used to get other notes like a metal whistle or even play two different pitches at once. Still, both of these techniques are difficult to master and relatively uncommon.
-The pan flute can play two notes simultaneously while the flute cannot do so; it can play only one note at a time.
-The pan flute is a non-transposing instrument, while the flute is a transposing one.
Who invented the pan flute?
It is said that a man named Zamil invented the Pan Flute; others say that it was Zamil’s son. It is also said to be named after Pan, the Greek god of flocks and pastures; yet another theory states its name comes from “pail” or “pole,” describing its tube shape (which would make sense for pan pipes).
The pan flute has been around for thousands of years, and it is believed to have originated from Ancient Greece. However, the first time that it was depicted in a historical document was during the Han Dynasty as an instrument called Xun, which was created by Cai Lun, who also invented paper.
In Europe, the pan flute gained popularity around the 14th century with legendary composers like Guillaume Dufay or Josquin des Prez, then later more famous ones such as Bach wrote compositions for this mysterious oriental-sounding pipe. The French composer Claude Debussy used its sound in his compositions, while Anton Bruckner used it on many occasions.
Famous contemporary musicians continue to write music using various types of pan flutes. The pan flute is an instrument that emits a mysterious and exotic sound that can be applied in various genres of music such as classical, jazz, or even pop/rock, among many others.
How much does a pan flute cost?
The price of a pan flute varies depending on its material, length, and manufacturer. A metal one ranges between $500 to $1000, while an acrylic or plastic model goes for around $200; however, it can also sale at much lower prices. An average-quality wood pan flute costs about $100, but the most basic models are usually less than this amount so if you’re looking for something cheap, then try your luck online.
The most expensive pan flute is made of gold and silver and is worth $40,000. It was created by the famous pan flute constructor Georges Nagelmackers who performed several concerts with this unique instrument during his lifetime; it can be played using both hands since two separate mouthpieces are attached to it.
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This beautiful golden pan flute has been exhibited at many international fairs, such as World’s Fairs in Paris (1878), Chicago (1933), and New York City (1964). While its owner John Waddington-Feather sold some objects from his collection, like a Mayan ceramic pot for £300 back in 1988, he still owns this precious item which is now part of the British Museum’s permanent collection.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.