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Native American Flute Craft: Ancient to Modern Kindle Edition
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What I appreciate most about Mr. Fuqua's book is that he has made a considerable amount of beginning flute-making information available at a very affordable price. As of this writing, there continues to be a dearth of affordable NASF-making books--not to mention a lack of flute-making books in general. The very few that exist are either out of print or are quite expensive (at least to my pocketbook). In this regard Mr. Fuqua has made a MUCH-NEEDED contribution, and I truly commend him for it.
Before getting into the making of NASF's per se, Mr. Fuqua begins with a helpful, even if relatively brief, chapter on the historical "Backstory" of Native American Flutes (NAFs). (If you want more backstory information, you might want to check out Fuqua's previous book, "The Native American Flute: Myth, History, Craft.")
So that there's no confusion, and especially for the sake of new flute makers who may be thinking of selling your flutes one day, allow me to say a word about terminology. I own both NAFs and NASFs. The difference depends on WHO made them. According to the laws set forth in the 1990 Indian Arts & Crafts Act, a flute made by a genuine bloodline Native American (or "Indian") may be properly called a "Native American Flute" (NAF). Otherwise, any flutes made by non-Native Americans must be called or labeled "Native American Style Flutes" (NASF), or something conveying meaning to the same effect. In fact, in the United States, wrongfully claiming that an artifact (like a flute) is crafted by "an Indian" is a felony offense. Hope this brief explanation helps.
Back to Fuqua's book, after the Backstory chapter he then wisely goes on to discuss the various materials that flutes can be made of; various finishes; care and maintenance; and musical scales as they pertain to Native American flute making.
He then goes on to elaborate on the different styles of flute making, from the ancient Anasazi flute to the modern two-chamber flute, from the traditional to the drone as well as others. And in doing so he shows you how to make these flutes from several different materials, including wood, bamboo, and PVC.
The book concludes with a chapter on various Sources as well as a Bibliography. Although the Sources pages and Bibliography are quite thin, it's still enough valuable information to get the beginner going in the right direction. I recommend that you do not merely gloss or skip over these sections.
Incidentally, the book's 8" X 10" trim size does indeed make it very suitable for using/reading on a workbench. I don't know whether it was designed the following way on purpose, but the relatively large pages also helpfully provide many blank margin spaces for inserting written notes and not-to-be-forgotten, golden-nugget reminders that you discover along the way.
However, the book's greatest strength--providing info on crafting various NASFs from a variety of materials--is also its most notable weakness. In other words, while the book's breadth is most commendable, it nonetheless suffers from a considerable lack of depth AND details--which, in my opinion, is usually necessary for most brand-new flute makers.
But this criticism, along with my wish that the book's many pictures and diagrams would have been in color (instead of black and white) are in fact relatively minor. For example, if the pictures had been published in color, such an improvement would definitely have added considerable cost to the book's price. Moreover, given the book's breadth, if Mr. Fuqua had added much more explanatory detail to the book, it may have become rather unwieldy, and certainly would have raised the price precipitously.
With that said, I believe Mr. Fuqua has struck a very useful and understandable balance. He doesn't wish to overwhelm the reader, and the book will answer most of a newbie's most basic flute-building questions.
As I have implied, however, most new flute makers WILL understandably have more questions and will necessarily need more details from time to time. Toward that end, the Internet has answers and details galore--IF you know where to look for them. I can suggest what I believe to be the three BEST repositories of FREE, web-related information that can supplement your reading of Mr. Fuqua's book, and will answer 99% or more of your questions:
1) The Native Flute Woodworking -- Native Flute, Yahoo Group. (Free to join.) Link: [...]
2) The Basic (but complete) NAFlute making, Yahoo Group. (Free to join.)
3)[...] (Free, no membership required.) Flutopedia is like an online encyclopedia for anything and everything related to the NAF. Updated & expanded regularly, it is an ever-growing treasure trove of information.
I highly, HIGHLY recommend all three of these resources. Again, they should be viewed as complements to Mr. Fuqua's book, NOT as a replacement. The overwhelming majority of novice flute makers find it very valuable--if not necessary--to have a well laid-out, clear and readable starting point. To have a basic, beginners book on which to rely to begin crafting NASFs. It makes things a whole heckuva lot easier and much less confusing when beginning your flute-making journey.
Mr. Fuqua's "Native American Flute Craft" is a laudable, informative, and (let's not forget!) is a VERY affordable place to begin that rich & rewarding journey. It can get you started right away, crafting your very first hand-made NASF.
Best of luck as you embark on your flute creating journey!
(Fyi, I do not know nor have I ever met Mr. Fuqua. And I am not related in any way to the making, marketing or promotion of this book. I simply want to help others make more informed decisions on potential purchases, and to be as helpful as I can possibly be.)
Easy flow of information, historical and technical, yet this is not a highly technical manual so it's easy for the lay person to understand. Although not of Native American blood, the author has done extensive research and imbues an enthusiasm for woodcrafting and Native American fluting and culture that entices the reader to go out and make a beginner's flute on a budget. I have not completed one yet, but I've tried one tip for adding a channel to the bottom of a fetish and so far it is working well. There are several other tips which seem to simplify flute making and so I'm excited to experiment with them. The author discusses the variety of flute making techniques by others and indicates problems or failures to avoid from his own personal experience, plus he gives clear step-by-step checklists for his preferences accompanied by photographs.
Wood, bamboo, clay, pvc...all four materials are covered. Wax, oil, varnish, shellac, polyurethane, laquer, water based finishes are all discussed. Bindings, repairs, general care of flutes, tuning secrets, Anasazzi instructions, drone flute instructions, contrabass pvc, and more. Even building a case and storing your instrument in proper humidity. Pretty much a complete resource.
This book contains explanations, not just how-to material which proves Fugua's respect for the intelligent reader. There are lots of resource choices referenced for material sources, links for expanding knowledge, extensive bibliography. Overall a very fine introduction and instruction book for first time flute makers.
In closing, because of my interest in NAF and appreciation of really good writing I sensed a warmth and eagerness from Mr. Fugue in sharing the experience of his flute journey and would recommend this book to anyone seriously considering making and playing their first Native American Style flute. I would also include this book as a valuable resource for scout troops, woodshop educators, native instrument musicians, music teachers and public libraries.