Louisiana Native American Flute Circle

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2014 Re-cap

No, we haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth, or given up on the website. We’ve just had a very eventful year that kept us focused on other things.
Our flute year began with Zion Flute School. We got to spend time with old friends and made a few new ones. Pat Haran had an ultra low D#m flute that we loved, but really wanted Dm instead. We ordered one and have loved it ever since!
In April, we attended Musical Echoes in Fort Walton Beach, FL and won a flute at silent auction.
In June, we attended RNAFF in Townsend TN. Purchased a moyo drum and a flute from Jon Norris. It also became a turning point in our lives. We attended several workshops. One that Paula attended was given by Steve Rushingwind. He was very supportive of Paula’s wish to record a lullaby album. With his encouragement and some advice from Adam Riviere, Paula decided to begin working on a long awaited dream.
July 4th, Paula stepped foot into a recording studio for the first time and began recording the first tracks of her first CD!
We took several trips during the year. One trip to Arkansas, we were playing our flutes at a state park and met people interested in learning more. We went to an open mic night in MS. and played to an appreciative audience.
During August and September, Paula continued writing more original pieces for the CD. One piece was inspired by a workshop by Julia Gatliff, one was played at Zion school for Cornell Kinderknecht and Scott August. Thanks to all for their input and encouragement.
At the end of August, Byron was contacted by Laura Hall. Butch Hall had been asked to come to Baton Rouge for an event. They could not attend, but Laura immediately gave the event organizers our names. It was “Harvest Days” scheduled the end of September at an LSU affiliated site. Several thousand people attended over the two day event. We took turns demonstrating flute to groups of people and handing out business cards and information.
Oct. 4th, we released our CD! Since we both played on it, we chose the group name Passages and released the CD nder the title “Sleepytime.” Of the 15 tracks, 12 are original compositions.
In November, we attended Native Rhythms Flute Festival with CDs in hand. We sold a few to friends and gave a couple to those who were supportive on our journey. We met Richard Sill. He was very interested in our website and in transposing music. He has submitted several tunes that will be put up shortly. Byron is in the midst of updating several aspects of the website right now.
Following Native Rhythms, we attended Cornell’s annual party at Butch Hall’s home in the Dallas TX area. An open mic was set up and we had several opportunities to play. Paula playe one of her lullaby compositions with Randy Granger on udu. Wow! What fun that was! The following day, Cornell and Randy gave a concert. We attended the concert, helped sell CDs for them, had a good meal with them and a few new friends. Chris Gale told us about the ocarina.
Christmas presents this year included and ocean drum by Cynthia McDonald and an ocarina!
Goals for the upcoming year include continued songwriting, a 2nd CD and, of course, keeping up with the website.

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WOW after dealing with Hackers sending spam emails from this site, temporary loss of the entire site due to a corrupted database, restoration, and changing of all passwords, I think the “Tech Guy” finally got everything back to normal. One thing that was necessary was to delete all Spam Subscribers. SO, I did a search, if there was no real name, no posts, and the screen name was not even close to the email, that “subscriber” was deleted. No offense intended, but with nearly 1100 spam entries, I may have deleted a real user. If you feel that you have been deleted in error, please re-register and send an email to byron (dot) ellis at cox (dot) net (you know the standard format). You will be re-enrolled promptly.

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New Songs Up on Music Page

Yes, It has been a while since my last update. Our daughter had a girl in Jan. of 2011 and a boy in Jan. 2012. It has been fun being a grandparent. I’ve taught workshops in Tablature at Native Rhythms festivals in 2011 and 2012, taught group and private lessons, and attended Clint and Vera’s flute school last September. I’ve also been working on transposing more songs. My New Year’s resolution is to put up new songs (at least three) each week. If I slip up, I hope you’ll remind me! This week I’ve posted four new songs. If you have any special requests, let me know and I’ll try to accommodate. Until next time, enjoy!

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The Series Continues

Traditional Songs The second songbook in the series is now available.

This songbook contains information on reading music, fingering exercises, and 25 traditional songs, many not available in this website, including : In the Good Old Summertime, Wayfaring Stranger, The Cruel War, Listen to the Mockingbird, Down in the Valley. Golden Slippers, Aura Lee, In the Sweet By and By, She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain, Sidewalks of New York, Billy Boy, Molly Malone (Cockles and Mussels), Goodnight Ladies, Lonesome Road, Ta-Ra-Ra Boom De-Ay, St. James Infirmary, Give My Regards to Broadway, My Wild Irish Rose, Wait Til the Sun Shines Nellie, Yankee Doodle, And the Band Played On, Sweet Adeline, Down by the Old Mill Stream, Barbara Allen, and Buffalo Gals.

The book is available in 5-hole and 6-hole versions from flutesteps.com.

Order Yours Today!

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The Next Step in Nakai Tab Has Arrived!

Children's SongsThe free e-book was designed to get you started learning the basic scale, but what about the other notes? The Add-a-Note system was developed to teach one new note at a time, then reinforce that learning with fingering exercises and actual songs. Other books available for Native American Flute have songs arranged in various ways. However, the Add-a-Note book is arranged according to the notes you need to learn for each song. As you go through the book, you are developing your skills in a way that makes learning fun and easy.

The songbook contains information on reading music, fingering exercises, and 25 children’s songs, many not found on this website, including : Hot Cross Buns, Ring Around the Rosy, Mary Had a Little Lamb, A-Tisket A-Tasket,The Bear Went Over the Mountain, It’s Raining It’s Pouring, Rain,Rain Go Away, It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More, If You’re Happy and You Know It, B-I-N-G-O, On Top of Old Smoky, The Mulberry Bush, Row, Row, Row Your Boat, The Little Green Frog, This Old Man, Eensy Weensy Spider, The Ants Go Marching, All the Pretty Little Horses , Short’nin’ Bread, Do Your Ears Hang Low?, Skip to My Lou, Shoo Fly, The Farmer in the Dell, Blow the Man Down, and John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.
It is available in 5-hole and 6-hole versions. Order Yours Today!

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New Website on Reading Nakai Tab

First Steps in Nakai TabThe last couple of weeks have been busy ones for Byron and I. We have put together a new website dedicated to learning Nakai tab. We even have a new e-book that we have developed available for free download. The new website is flutesteps.com Check it out, download the book and leave your comments. I’m anxious to hear what you think.

In other news, I have been approved to teach again this fall for LSU Leisure Courses. Beginner and Intermediate classes will be offered. I am also working on materials for a workshop presentation, more books for learning tab, and a video series. So definitely stay tuned for more breaking news.

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Transposing Music for NAF – Part 3

Choosing Music to Transpose

How can you tell if a song will fit your flute’s range? The Native American flute has a range of about 1 1/3 octaves. However, because of the “missing” note – the note that you must half-hole to play – the usable range is really only about an octave.

Look at the lowest and highest notes of the song. If they are no more than an octave apart, it can easily be transposed. If they are an octave plus three steps apart, the song will not fit the range of the flute. Either go on to another song, re-write part of it as Robert Gatliff did for Silent Night , or re-write a single note as Robert did for Shenandoah (see arrangement note at the bottom of the song.)

If the song has a range of an octave +1 or an octave +2, it will fit the flute but may require half-holing. To determine if half-holing will be necessary, look at the two lowest notes in the piece. If they are less than 3 half-steps apart, half-holing will be necessary. Occasionally, a trill can be used in place of the half-hole note as Robert did in this version of Amazing Grace. Altering a song must be done carefully, so that the original sense of the music is preserved. If you are unsure, transpose a different song.

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Transposing Music for NAF – Part 2

In my last post, I described using Robert Gatliff’s program for transposing music. It worked well and was fairly easy to learn. However, I chose to switch to Finale for its ability to export the music for use in the textbook I was preparing.

Finale is a powerful music notation system, but because it does so many things, it takes time to learn. For example, there are three different ways music can be entered into the program.

The first thing I needed to do was learn to make the program work for my specific needs. There are still portions of the program I am learning as I need specific features. I had to learn to enter the notes, change time signatures, work with adding lyrics, and add the fonts for the fingering diagrams. In the beginning, I wasn’t even sure I could enter both words and fingerings. Each song I had previously done needed to be totally re-entered.

At first, I concentrated on entering the notes. I created a column on the website for TAB only – music without fingering diagrams. As I got more comfortable with the whole process, I found that for new songs, I could enter the notes as written in the reference book and let Finale transpose them for me. However, it wasn’t as simple as it sounds. Instead of saying I wanted to transpose up a half-step, I was faced with choices like transpose diatonically or chromatically. Up or down an augmented unison, diminished second, minor second etc. All terms I was not familiar with using. At times transposing up a third meant that the accidentals needed to be checked. Did I really want that note to be a “d” or a “d#”? Again I was checking and correcting each step of the way.

Once I felt more comfortable with entering the notes, I needed to learn to enter the fingerings. Clint Goss’ fonts are easy to use once I discovered his system. I had been accustomed to typing in the name of the note and expected something similar from Clint. He actually came up with a much easier way to do it by using numerals. Once I became comfortable with the system, I began adding fingerings to the TAB only songs. I wanted them to be available to everyone.

Then, I decided I wanted a uniform look to the music on my website. Every song I had done using flutetree.com now needed to be re-done in Finale. As I had more and more songs in different stages of the process, it became necessary to track which songs still needed work, which songs had been completed, uploaded and linked. Some files were for personal use in the textbook and not to be used on the website at all. I separated songs into folders and created a document with tables to enter necessary information.

Finally, I felt it was time for the music page overhaul. Practically all of the music had been re-worked. Byron and I then discussed the new design for the page. Should we have the songs in categories or only alphabetically? Byron began the coding, I began checking through the 80+ songs that had been uploaded and were ready to be linked to the re-designed page. That was when I discovered that half of my Christmas songs still had not been re-done. Since it was after Christmas, I decided to let the page be put up without them. Over the next few months, I worked on classroom materials. My friend, Nancy was gracious enough to proof read over them for me. Byron formatted them into a book. Now I’ve finally gotten the “last” of the Christmas songs completed. Of course, I continue to work on more songs for the website – now over 100 songs are available for your use – and probably will be adding more Christmas as well.

I realize that this post has been long and rather technical. If you have any questions about the process, I would be happy to help. Otherwise, just know I am constantly working to bring you the best selection of tunes available for your playing pleasure.

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Transposing Music for NAF – Part 1

Christmas songs added at Easter? What’s going on? When we re-did the website in January, the Christmas songs were not ready to re-load. To explain why, involves explaining the process I use for transposing songs for the Native American Flute.
When I first began transposing music, I needed some method for printing and sharing the work I’d done. I began using Robert Gatliff’s program on flutetree.com. It’s a great program available for personal use if you have basic knowledge of music. Here are the steps involved if you’d like to try it for yourself.
1. I begin with sheet music of the song. Using a homemade slide-rule type of device, I transpose the notes to fit the flute. The names of each note are handwritten in a notebook.
2. I play through the song to be sure I have done the transposing correctly.
3. I transfer the handwritten notes into a computer document. Robert’s program uses upper case for the lower notes and lower case for the higher notes. I make sure that my word program doesn’t decide to “auto-correct” my work by capitalizing notes I need to have in lowercase.
4. Following Robert’s instructions, I add note values and rests to indicate rhythm.
5. I then add the lyrics using hyphens, underscores and backslashes where needed to make them line up with the correct notes.
6. When I believe I have it all prepared, I copy and paste it into Robert’s program, choose 6 hole or 5 hole fingering and let it draw the result.
7. I look for any obvious problems such as words that aren’t lining up correctly, correct and re-draw.
8. I play through the piece to check for any note issues. Correct and re-draw.
9. When I believe I have everything as correct as possible, I save as a web page for use on the website. I sometimes use my html editor to print the page for Byron to check my work. (Correct and re-draw.)
10. I upload the music and link to the web page.

All of the original music page had songs done in this manner. However, I decided to teach a course in reading tablature and wanted something a bit more flexible and suitable for the text-book I was preparing. I invested in Finale – a musical notation program – and downloaded NAF 6 hole and NAF 5 hole fonts developed by Clint Goss. Part 2 will describe the process of using these fonts and the new program and why it took so much time and effort to update the music offered on the site.

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