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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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