How All Wind Instruments Came To Life?

Bird bone flute
One of the first discoveries of flutes

Cave paintings and discoveries from Eastern Europe show evidence that flutes are the oldest instruments ever made. Dating back 50,000 years, the first flute that has been found, was made of bird bones. These flutes have been made in a way that allows playing in 2 ways. Side blown like the transverse flute and end-blown, like a recorder.

It was only in the 2nd century that flutes made their way to the west. Since then, flutes and woodwinds have been made from all possible materials: Clay, gold, silver, wood & other precious metals.

Bronze era flute
Persian golden flute made in the Bronze era

1001 ways to blow a flute

The large diverse of cultures which adopted flutes, made their own way to blow it. From the side, end-blown, with mouthpiece & without. There are some interesting similarities between the way flute are blown in the Persian & the Mongolian cultures. Although the two empires exited far from each other, the techniques are quite similar.

In that style, the tongue is used to focus the stream of air into the end of the flute. In that way, the musician can literally control every nuance of the flute’s sound. It’s ain’t easy, but it’s a very powerful technique.

The Ottomans have introduced mouthpieces, also called “Bashpare”, to their flute. It used to be carved out of Buffalo horn, but today mostly made of Derlin, a highly dense plastic. The mouthpiece helps splitting the air, and the sharp edges help producing the sound.

What is the ney made of?

The ney is traditionally made of Phragmites australis, a reed that grows next to rivers. However, out of 1000 reeds, only 1 or 2 are suitable for ney making. The reed should have 8 joints, rather close to each other. The reed is collected in the winter and dries 6 month before it can be used. For the ney to be playable, the Ney zen must first be straighten. This is done by exposing the reed to heat, and slowly curving it into a straight rod. A ney can hold more than 200 years if it’s well kept and oiled!

Darvish playing the ney
In a Sufi ceremony, a Dervish plays the ney

The flute of the east

The ney is one of the world’s most old and fascinating instruments. It can produce tones in 3 octaves, and a huge range of sounds. It is also considered to be a difficult instrument to play. Professional ney players are called Ney Zen, to emphasize the hard work that was put into mastering it.

Neys are now played in a large geographical area. From Eastern Europe to China, it’s played in different styles. The most common places to hear Ney is in the Arabic & Turkish musical cultures. A classical Arabic orchestra would have at least one player, who will have an important place near the singer.

In Sufi ceremonies, the ney player is very important. The whirling dervishes from the Mevlevi order, use the ney as a way to meditate. It’s mesmerizing to see how they turn to the mystical sounds of the ney,

Neys for sale

Today, it’s possible to find neys in all scales and price ranges. From simple (but powerful) plastic neys, to the most advanced instruments, made meticulously by a skilled master. The price range of a Ney is pretty wide. Starting from 30$ to 250$.

We are offering some rather interesting instruments from highly skilled makers who are also Ney Zens! Our makers cut the reed them self, to make sure only the best raw material makes it’s way to the workshop. If tuning is important to you (and it should be), then you can rest sure it is taken care of very seriously. Playing with other people with a tuned Ney – is something that’s for granted in the entire Ney catalog.

Many wonder which ney should one start with. Is it Arabic or Turkish? Of natural reed or from Plastic?

We recommend starting with a Turkish ney. Specifically in the key of D, also called ‘Sipurde’ in Turkish. It’s the most easy one to play, and it goes well with Arabic oud, a guitar and other western instruments.

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