Most people use their Native American flute to play music in minor pentatonic scale – the very basic, and very simple scale. Minor pentatonic is a wonderful scale, very simple to play, and very melodic, I use it all the time. But many flutes are more than capable of playing other sounds – so called extended scales.
In this article, I present some nice scales you can work with to get the most of your flute. With them, you can play a lot more melodies and songs.
Let’s start with some basic information.
Scale – What is it?
A scale, in music, is a collection of sounds (notes) that can be used to create melodies. Each song is written down in specific scale, and thus the song utilizes nothing more but the notes of this scale. You may be familiar with many scales already: you play pentatonic minor on your Native flute; you should know that “Mary had a little lamb” is in C Major scale, and “do-re-mi” is the diatonic scale.
Many popular scales can be played with Native American flutes – it just requires some skills and practice.
Almost every “extended scale” requires you to use a six-holes flute. Unforunately, not every six-holes flute will be able to play the extended scales. The size of the bore and its relation to flute’s length; as well as the placement of the finger holes and their sizes and relations to each other – all these elements affect the number of scales you can play with your Native American flute.
You can use the following scales to compose your own, unique pieces of music which can be played on Native American flute. Even more, knowing the extended scales allows you to use the Native Flute to play many popular songs from pop-artists, games and films. And you can use these scales to accompany other instruments or entire bands with your the help of your own flute.
Please note that many extended scales are a bit more difficult to play, due to complex fingering.
12 Scales to Play with Native American Flute
As with most tablature illustrations, the white circles are the open holes, and black circles are the closed holes. Please note that some of the higher notes require an overblow, meaning stronger air pressure when blowing into the mouthpiece.
This is the basic scale for most of melodies for Native American style flute. It’s the scale you will learn to play in almost every Native flute songbook or workshop.
If you ever want to play some basic blues, try this scale.
This is the famous “do-re-mi” scale.
This scale contains all the notes from the piano.
This is a wonderful, traditional pentatonic Japanese scale, usually used in Shakuhachi flute.
Most songbooks for Native American flute utilize Nakai notation, which will not work for standard musical notation. Therefore, if you want to play a song, written in, for example, diatonic scale with standard staff notation, you need to use the flute in specific key, defined by the song. If you’re not sure what this means, there will be another tutorial explaining this. In the meantime, you can grab some “introduction to music theory” book, and everything will become clear.