Posts by Author: Dave Kobrenski
Fula flute demonstration
Resources Jan 7
What is the difference between a “Western-tuned flute” and a “traditional flute? At the Kassa Flute Co, all of our custom flutes are available in either a “Western” scale or a “traditional/equidistant” scale. As you might expect, the Western scale is the same scale used on instruments like guitar, piano, bass, etc. The traditional scale is similar, but instead of using a series of whole and half steps, it uses a seven-note scale in which all notes are equally spaced. This results in the intervals being approximately 3/4 of a step. (For a more precise explanation, please see this blog post.) But just how different are these two scales? Today, I’m going to answer that question with side-by-side audio examples of each type of flute. Listen to the short clip below to hear the difference so you can decide on your next flute!
Below are some charts to help you understand the scales that can be played on the different Fula flutes (also known as tambin). Each flute can play one complete diatonic scale. The flutes most commonly found (and the ones sold by Kassa Flute Co) are: A♭, G, G♭, and F. The A♭ flute is our smallest flute, with the F being the longest (and lowest). For more info on flutes available for purchase, please visit our shop here. Order a Flute
Mar 8 2019
More than a decade ago while traveling in West Africa, I began my apprenticeship with a master flute-maker from the Malinké tradition. My studies of this simple but powerful flute, and my continued relationship with the people of Guinée, have been one of the most rewarding (and sometimes challenging!) endeavors of my life. Over the years since, I have sought to continuously refine and improve the flutes that I make, and honor the tradition from which it comes — traveling back to Guinée whenever possible to work with and support my wonderful teachers there. It is with a lot of pride that I can say that the new flutes coming from the Kassa workshop are the best I have ever produced, and I’m pleased to continue my work in promoting the music and culture of Guinée! That said, back home here in the United States (or Europe, Australia, etc), it is all-too easy to overlook the poverty and suffering that the people of Guinée must endure every day. This is the daily reality for my teachers and their families, especially in Conakry. It is for that reason that I have decided to donate a portion of every flute sale to help support my friends and teachers there. You’ll notice that the prices of my flutes have increased a little, and this is to accommodate the increased time and materials in producing these flutes — but more importantly, to allow me to take 15% of every flute sale and use it for aid and projects in the communities where I have traveled and learned so much. Over the coming months, you’ll see more information and resources here on the Kassa Flute Co. website that will document how this money is being used, and I hope, over time, to include photos from my travels that show the connection between the Kassa Flute Co. and Guinée. The Kassa Flute Co. is a small operation, and a labor of love for me. But it has always been my hope to be able to use it to offer support, however small, to my friends and family in Guinée…and your support and continued patronage will help me with that goal. If you have any questions or thoughts, please don’t hesitate to contact us. I look forward to continuing to grow Kassa and to provide you with resources, information, and inspiration, while helping communities in need. — Dave Kobrenski
from Kassa Flute Co.
Resources Mar 7 2019
The past year has been filled with lots of fine-tuning and experimentation, and we at the Kassa Flute Co. are pleased to say that our new line of Fulani-style West African flutes are here, and better than ever! We’ve made improvements to the embouchure design, the headstock contruction, the inner air column, and lots of other subtle changes — which all add up to amazing playability; sweet, warm tonal characteristics; vast improvements to upper register tuning; and lots more. And the new designs are just beautiful. Check out the current stock of ready-to-ship flutes, or special order your dream flute on our Shop page. Enjoy! Browse Flutes
Intervals between frequencies
An interval is the difference between two musical notes: the distance between two frequencies, often expressed in semitones (or cents). The below tool calculates the exact number of semitones between any two given frequencies, or, given a frequency and an interval, will calculate the note required to achieve that interval. Some facts: A semitone is equal to 100 cents. The twelve-tone equal temperament scale divides an octave into 12 semitones (of 100 cents each). A theoretical model of an equidistant heptatonic scale, where all the intervals of the seven-note scale were perfectly equal, would result in an interval of 1.714 semitones each.
Unboxing a new flute from Kassa Flute Co
Reviews May 21 2018
At the Kassa Flute Co., we’re always delighted to hear about our customers experiences receiving their custom Fula flutes. Recently, musician / recording artist and ethnomusicologist William Johnson shared his own experience receiving one of our custom flutes — this one a traditionally tuned A♭ flute that we custom made for William recently. Says William: “I received the flute last week and let me tell you… this thing is GORGEOUS! Absolutely beautiful….Thanks again for your incredible work and speedy yet flawless craftsmanship, packing and shipping!” Below is the video that William created, sharing his experience receiving (and playing for the first time) his new flute:
Fixing a loose embouchure
Flute-Making-Tools Dec 15 2016
Fula flutes are fragile instruments, and are susceptible both to impact (dropping, being sat on etc) as well as to changes in temperature and humidity. In particular, cold weather can cause troubles with your Fula flute. While wooden flutes are more fragile than the rigid “pipe” flutes that we make here at the Kassa Flute Co, the embouchure (mouthpiece or headpiece) of any Fula flute is made out of beeswax and can become brittle in cold weather. This can cause it to become loose. In extreme hot weather, the beeswax can melt and cause it to become mishapen. In either one of these cases, the problem is not severe, and can be fixed relatively easy. In this short article, we’ll show you how to fix a headpiece that has become loose.
How a 40,000 year old flute leveled the playing field
Sometime between 40,000 and 45,000 years ago, a group of early humans on a migration route out of Africa, along the corridor of the Danube River valley, carried with them a small but significant object: a flute. Carved from the bone of a griffon vulture, with…
for a Three-hole Fulani flute
The most common question I get about making flutes is, “How do you know where to drill the finger holes?” Here is the “electronic worksheet” along with tools and charts I’ve developed over the course of my flute-making journey, to aid in the calculation of tonehole placement for a 3-hole Fulani Flute made from uniform diameter tube.
Instrument builders and technicians often need to do calculations that require knowing the frequency and/or wavelength of certain notes. The following table shows the frequencies of all the notes of a standard piano, to a thousandth of a hertz. I generated this table using a script I wrote in PHP. I’ve also published the underlying PHP array as a Gist on GitHub, that is freely available for use in your own website or project. Get it here.
Musical Notes to Frequency Table
Recently, I came across the need to reference a chart of musical notes and their frequencies, for the purpose of calculating the wavelengths of certain notes, and realized there wasn’t a great tool out there to do this automatically. So, I created a multi-dimensional PHP array so that I could access this data, loop through it, and make whatever calculations I needed to. Below is the resulting Gist, and it is available to use freely in your own projects. I used this PHP array to generate a handy reference table of musical frequencies and wavelengths, available here. More info about the topic of Musical Frequencies at this Wikipedia entry.