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Types of Pan Flutes

Standard, homemade pan flute made out of wood.
flute de pan image by Indigo from Fotolia.com

Pan flutes have ancient origins. The pan flute, which is made with 10 or more pipes, is a folk musical instrument, largely considered to be the predecessor of the pipe organ and harmonica. The pipes of the pan flute are put together in a vertical design. To play, the musician blows across the ends of the pipe in a horizontal motion. Pan flutes are made with varying designs to create many different types.


The antara pan flute originated in the Andes mountains. Usually, the antara is made of 13 bamboo pipes which are slightly curved. The 13 pipes create 13 different notes. The antara pan flute is traditionally played by boys and men in the Andes mountain region, where it is still used today.


The nai pan flute has Romanian origins and a unique, swiveling design. The curved pipes create a wide range of sounds. Swivel the head to access all the pipes. By tilting the pan flute and moving the jaw, the nai pan flute plays sharps and flats as well. The nai pan flute was invented in the 17th century. Usually, the nai is made with 22 pipes made of bamboo wood or reeds.


The paixiao originated in ancient China. Relics of the paixiao found in the region date back to the 6th century BC. The paixiao is made of 16 pipes, the holes cut along the tops of the pipes at an angle. It is also known as the p'ai hsiao pan flute.


The siku, or zampona, pan flute was used in the Andes mountains and Bolivia. Originally, the siku was created in Peru. Usually, the siku pan flute is made with 13 pipes of bamboo wood. The design of the siku allows two people to play one instrument.

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