baans-Peul™ Flute : The Multi-phonic Bamboo Flute

A tunable flute with haunting multiphonic sound, amazing harmonics. Allows you to 'sing' into it fairly easily for an other-worldly effect!

I was introduced to the sound of flute Peul just a few years ago by an old customer of mine, Erwin Van Gorp of Belgium. It was a sonic treat indeed! This flute capable of producing rich multi-phonics and of being sung into, had a haunting sound like no other. Played by the Peul/Fulani people of west Africa, this flute is traditionally made out of a fragile river vine called Tambin. Having just three holes to finger, this traditional flute sounds about one and a half octave of diatonic scale.

Birth of baans-Peul Flute

Fortuitously, Erwin tasked me with recreating this flute in bamboo with a goal to overcome a few of the drawbacks of the original, namely - fragility of the material and unreliable tuning. Although, it took me a while to wrap my head around the unique mechanics of the flute but once I had some clarity about it, thanks to a lot of back and forth communication with Erwin, it was obvious to me as to what line of thought to follow to recreate and improve.

A few trial and error cycles later, I had a durable flute design with predictably accurate tuning over the whole range. This new design had four tone holes instead of three as in the traditional Peul flute. Apart from being constructed of bamboo with carefully worked out length to bore ratio and bore profile, the new flute had a movable bamboo-wax composite mouth piece sitting on a rectangular embouchure. The mouthpiece consists of two pieces which can be moved up and down the rectangular embouchure slot, allowing the freedom to not only tune the instrument up or down but also change the size of effective embouchure to suit one's blowing style.

Further Development

baans-peul flute bunch

The task at hand well finished, but I felt that there was further scope of improvement. With an urge to extend the playability and versatility of the instrument, I provided three additional holes to ensure continuity of notes in contrast to frequent register breaks as are in the traditional instrument. Also I envisioned the tonic to be situated at the lowest note in contast to the traditional Peul flute where it is taken to be on the second note of the third register. This new scheme of things gave rise to a mesmerizing semi-chromatic scale. The overall result was wonderful and I christened the new flute simply as baans-Peul Flute. Baans being Hindi for bamboo.

baans-peul flute closeup

baans-Peul Flute : Bamboo-wax mouthpiece closeup and traditional (improved) tuning flute with mouthpiece detached. Notice the rounded rectangular embouchure hole for adjustable pitch.

Tuning and Fingering

The traditional tuning version of baans-Peul Flute is has four holes - three controlled with one hand and one with the other. The semi-chromatic version has seven - four played with three fingers and thumb of one hand and three fingers of the other. Its chromatic version has 8 holes, four controlled by each hand.

Should you have any questions about baans-Peul Flute or would like to order one, please contact me.