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Panpipe is a set of tuned pipes often stopped at the lower end and joined together in either a raft or a bundle shape, consisting usually of ten or more pipes of gradually increasing length. Variations of pan flutes from cane, wood, clay, metal, to stone, are visible worldwide and their existence dates back from ancient times. The name panpipe is derived from the god Pan of ancient Greek mythology; fleeing his pursuit, the nymph Syrinx was turned into a bed of reeds, from which Pan made his pipes (Encarta, 2007).
It is used as a folk instrument and regarded as the predecessor of a pipe organ and the harmonica.
Pan flute is known in ancient Greek as the syrinx, in modern Romanian as nai, in Latin as fistula panis and yupana in the Andes.
Pan flute originated in several places, it came into existence at about the same stage of cultural development, which means at different times and in different geographical zones (White, 2003).
A pan flute is also end-blown; each of its pipes gives a different note, according to its length. Some end-blown flutes are blown through one nostril; such “nose flutes” are often considered magical.
Traditional South American style fine-tuned the pipes by placing small pebbles or dry corn kernels at the bottom of the pipes. Modern makers of curved Romanian-style panpipes use beeswax to tune the latest instruments and use special tools to remove the wax. The quickest way to tune the pipes is through the use of corks and rubber as stoppers.
It is played by blowing horizontally across the open end against the sharp inner edge of the pipes. Over blowing produces odd harmonics.
The Romanian pan flute is designed in a curved array, allowing the players to easily reach all the notes at a single twist of their head. Tilting the pipes and jaw produces both sharps and flats. An advanced player can play any scale and in any key.
Two styles of vibrato are applied in playing this instrument: hand vibrato and breath vibrato. Gentle motion is applied to one end of the pan flute in hand vibrato while breath vibrato applies in all woodwind instruments.
Gheorghe Zamfir, a Romanian musician, popularized the European curved-style pan flute. He recorded many albums of pan flute music during the 1970s and toured extensively. Some artists began recording at the same time.
Pan flute musicians flourished in different parts of Europe, Asia, and America. Curved and traditional South American styles are very popular in most Peruvian folks and other Andeans.
The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Bee Gees, Agustín Lara, Luis Miguel, Aerosmith, and Céline Dion use this instrument in some of their music and it gained its prestige in modern music.
White, Brad. “History of the Panflute.” Web.
Bishop, Douglas. “A Worldwide History of the Panflute.” Web.
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“Panpipe.” Microsoft® Encarta® 2007 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2006.
Libin, Laurence. “Musical Instruments.” Microsoft® Encarta® 2007 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2006.