The Pan flute is an ancient instrument that relies on the simple technology of lining up pipes of different lengths to create a scale for playing melodies. Although Pan flutes are also relatively simple in construction, playing them well is a lifelong pursuit. Pan flutes are made with any number of pipes, but five-and eight-pipe Pan flutes are the most common, as they correspond to musical octaves and the pentatonic scale, which is used in blues and other world music styles. Using common supplies from a hardware store, you can make your own primitive, five-pipe Pan flute at home.
Items you will need
- 2 feet PVC sprinkler pipe, 1/2-inch wide
- Duct tape
- Five pennies
- Measuring tape
Cut the pipe into five different pieces. The first and longest piece should be 6 1/16 inches; the second 5 3/8 inches; the third 4 3/4 inches; the next three should be 15/16 inches; and the last and smallest should be 3 7/16 inches.
Cover the end of each piece of pipe with a penny, fastening each penny with a strip of duct tape.
Line the pipes up regardless of size, with the open tops on an equal plane.
Wrap a long piece of duct tape around all five pipes, keeping them in a parallel line. Double- or triple-wrap the pipes until they are stable. The pipes should be graduated from largest to smallest at the covered openings.
Blow across the tops of the pipes, the way you would a flute or soda bottle, to create sound. With practice you can eventually create melodies.
Tips & Warnings
- To avoid ingesting a penny, be sure that it is larger than the opening it covers.
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