Pagan Flutes….Part I!

I once took an ethnomusicology class at my University. It was a pretty decent class that provided an overview of various classical and folk traditions of music from around the world. This was kind of exciting for me, because I was thinking at the time of where I should start to look for music from cultures foreign to my own. Basically this means I was looking for non-commercial music that has a history/tradition behind it.

The book we bought for the course came with a 4-cd set, and was called “Worlds of Music” by Jeff Todd Titan. A nice variety of tunes on the cd; maybe I’ll post something about it later. Anyway, through the Native American (or indigenous American) music on the cd, I came to find a compilation called “A Rough Guide to Native American Music.”

There are a bunch of these compilations with various kinds of world musics. This one seems to be currently out of print, but led me to discover the music of the successful R. Carlos Nakai, and a few other people. R. Carlos Nakai is a traditional Navajo flutist. I’ve seen it marketed alongside lousy “new age” music. It’s uber-depressing to me that we lump R. Carlos Nakai and other great musicians into this category because it includes Enya and the guy who did the ‘X-Files’ theme. Talk about guilt by association!

Nakai’s music has a palpable flavor to it, which is quite deeply rooted in the archetypes of North American spirituality which point to tribal (or “pagan,” if you wanna call it that) cultures. The music really does paint a vivid portrait of the old American landscape and draws one into existential contemplation with a serious kind of intensity. Not to cheeseball this guy, but his songs emit a presence which transmits the way the landscape feels. I’m talking, like, he’s giving direct transmission from the American river valley to the listener. It’s the real deal, kids.

This music is not to be taken lightly, in the sense that its emotional and psychological effects on the listener are significant. If you played this kind of stuff in a haunted area or a region with a strong natural presence, I think it would be too overwhelming. This is the kind of music that one can listen to at the wrong time or place and unwittingly be committing blasphemy!

It’s also just plain bad feng shui– a category which includes all tomfoolery, ignance and ill shenanigans in its awesome vastness. All wretchedly pathetic jokes aside, what I am trying to say here is that playing music inappropriate to your surroundings or in opposition to certain social/cultural situations can create a kind of ignorance in your subtle perceptions of the environment. This is most noticable with Nakai’s music because it immediately has an effect on your perception and speaks loudly for the cultural and geographical background it emanates from. Just don’t play this music as a joke, or while you’re doing drugs or having sex with the rubber vaginal molds from Japanese porn DVDs. I mean, you can…demons aren’t gonna show up and blow smoke in your tear ducts or nothin’. The issue is just that it might fuck you up personally to take these things lightly.

I am interested in what kind of melodic patterns are characteristic of Native American flute composition. It sounds like he is using a lot of minor thirds over suspended or augmented chords. Let me know what you think about that.

Nakai is a pretty successful dude (financially) it seems, so I’m just going to post some jams from that out-of-print compilation that I first heard his music from. This ain’t exactly party music. It’s for contemplation. Don’t blame me for the ensuing chaos if you try to play this during your toga parties or halloween disasters or whatever you swingers do to find STDs on a regular basis.

R. Carlos Nakai – Cleft in the Sky
R. Carlos Nakai/W. Eaton/Black Lodge Singer – Many Flags
Bill Miller – Wind Spirit

Note: I am only posting these mp3s because this cd is out of print. Please e-mail me at sc8031 [at] if you are affiliated with the artist(s) and have a problem with this. I do not support mp3 piracy.


~ by chaosrexmachinae on August 6, 2007.

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