The Basketmaker flute was created in collaboration with recording artist Scott August and features a thumb hole to allow for an extended scale. The standard tuning I use is a pentatonic major scale available in the keys of F#,G, Aflat, A, Bflat and B. There is a minor tuned version called the Mojave 6 as well, only available in the key of B which does not have a thumb hole.
These flutes are in fact modern day interpretations of some of the ancient artifacts found in caves in the American Southwest. The modern version looks quite a bit different than the antique flutes, and while they play intervals that are consistent with the tuning of some of these relics, that is where the resemblance ends.
The original flutes are ancient instruments dating back hundreds (possibly thousands) of years. Who were the people that our modern culture mistakenly refer to as the “Anasazi”? They were the ancestors of the modern Pueblo people living in New Mexico and Arizona. There never was an “Anasazi tribe”, nor did anyone ever call themselves by that name, though this term has (unfortunately) caught on and become associated with some of these modern rim blown flutes that are very loosely inspired by the original artifacts. Anasazi is originally a Navajo word that archaeologists applied to people who farmed the Four Corners area before 1300 AD. This word is currently misused to refer to the flutes that are inspired by the work of the Pueblo people of long ago (since no one knows what they called themselves).
As with other embouchure flutes, the player uses their mouth to direct the airflow across the rim of the flute, thus creating the tone. The original rim blown flutes found in the Four Corners area showed every sign of being designed for interdental play, which is a very different approach (and sound) than these modern versions that have been modified to play in a style akin to the shakuhachi flute. This makes them a bit more accessible and provides a lovely and evocative voice, but they are by no means authentic replicas.
These instruments are considerably more difficult to play than a fipple flute (such as a whistle or a Native American style flute), and they represent one of the most satisfying challenges to the flute player. Do not expect to simply pick one up and start playing! Some players can get a tone right away, and others take more time. These flutes take time and patience to master, but they are well worth the effort.
For more information on these instruments and their variations, I strongly encourage a visit to Scott August’s website.
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