The courtship flute in some traditional North American Plains cultures was sometimes called an elk whistle, named after the mating call of a male elk. Sometimes an elk fetish was carved into the flute to honor and invite in the elk's medicine or spirit. In this beautiful Peppertree branch flute, the profile of an elk spirit showed up voluntarily ... a very welcomed inhabitant! This flute also plays an effect known as an elk whistle, heard at the beginning and end of the sound sample, those high pitched overtones reminiscent of a distant whistling, or bugling elk. The elk whistle effect is played on this flute by covering only the 3rd and 4th holes up and blowing into the flute with the lightest of breaths.
Measuring 21 7/8"" in length and made from an unsplit Peppertree (Shinus molle) branch, this flute is clearly and soulfully tuned to an F#m pentatonic scale, modes 1&4, playing 3 upper register notes. All knot holes have been inlaid with green turquoise. Elk lacing with green turquoise and gold-plated brass beads secures the bird to its nest. To help prevent wetout, the bird has been fitted with a cedar shoe, and a drain hole, covered by the lacing, has been designed into the air chamber. The branch for this flute was gathered sustainably, with respect and gratitude, from a tree that grows within the San Marcos Creek watershed of California.
Shamanic use of Peppertree: Brought to Mexico hundreds of years ago by the Spaniards from South America, Peppertree now grows abundantly in the wild there, where it is known by the name of "pirul", also naturalizing throughout the American Southwest. It has become an important part of Mexican traditional medicine, as its branches are used to "sweep" a person's body and thus "cast away all bad luck" and the "evil eye". This ceremony, called "una barrida con pirul" is common practice in many rural communities in Mexico today.
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