“Changes” by Carlos R. Nakai is one of the very first recordings of Native American flutes that reached the general public. It is the first album recorded and released by Carlos R. Nakai, the one that gave him the general fame. And also the one album that started the popularity of Native American flute recordings. At first released on tapes (cassettes), then as a CD, and finally as downloadable mp3 files, it still sells today.

For me, while it’s not the first flute album I listened to, it’s my favorite flute album.

Magic of simplicity

The magic of “Changes”, I suppose, lie in their simplicity and purity. Carlos R. Nakai composed some of the songs himself, while other are based on traditional songs of Native Americans. Nakai himself is a Native American who, after many years, collected a large amount of traditional songs and melodies. In case of “Changes”, he recorded a flute, and added gentle special effects such as echoes and reverbs, but nothing more than that.

“Changes”, thus, is a very simple album, with pure flute songs and no background sounds nor any other instrument. Along with the peacefulness of the songs, it carries the essence of the Native American flute – peace and simplicity. “Changes” carries serenity, contemplation and meditation with each note.

The album has been released in January of 1983 by Canyon Records.

Haunting Melodies

The album contains 15 haunting songs, ranging from 2 to over 6 minutes.

  1. Zuni Song
  2. Whippoorwill
  3. Wioste Olowan Toki Ya
  4. 12/13/82 Song
  5. December Snow
  6. Winter Solstice
  7. Wiose Olowan Inkpa Ta-Ya
  8. 12/20/82 Song
  9. 11/20/82 Song
  10. 12/13/82 Song No. 2
  11. 11/11/82 Song
  12. Death Song – Lament
  13. 10/18/82 Song
  14. Blood Round Dance Song
  15. Impressions of Atitlan, Guatemala

As you can notice, many of the songs have no official titles – they were composed by Nakai and named with dates of composition.

The “Changes” is a very eclectic album. The Zuni Song is based on traditional Zuni sunrise melodies, first published in print at the beginning of XX century. Whipporwill is based on Nakai’s experiences from Woodstock. Many songs are inspired by the places such as Monument Valley or San Francisco Peaks or even by nature events, such as storm in Guatemala. Some songs are based on Lakota melodies, and some are based on European melodies and chanteys.

Mixing all these various sources of inspiration, Nakai created a wonderful album that catches the essence of Native American flutes.

If you wish to learn how to play some of the songs from the “Changes” album, the sheet notes for them are provided in Nakai’s book, reviewed on FluteCraft some time ago: The Art of Native American Flute.

“Changes” is available in both CD (aff) and mp3 (aff) format on Amazon.com. Other mp3 services and CD stores sell this album, as well. For those who consider themselves fans of Native flute’s sounds, it’s almost mandatory to listen to this album at least once.

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