Wind Instruments: Edge-Toned

flutes on piano

There are three basic categories of wind instruments (edge-toned, reeds, lip-buzzed) based on how their sounds are produced.

playlist of anarchestra wind instruments on youtube

Edge-toned refers to flutes, pan-pipes, and ocarinas, all of which produce their sounds in basically the same way as blowing over the edge of a bottle does.  Pan-pipes work as sets of single tubes, Ocarinas work as bottles whose volumes of air can be altered by opening and/or closing holes, Flutes work as tubes that can be lengthened or shortened by opening and/or closing holes.  The difference between flutes and ocarinas is that on flutes the holes need to be played in order as air will sound only at the shortest length while on ocarinas the effect of opening the holes is cumulative, essentially shrinking the size of the resonant cavity.

I make a lot (scores) of these (flutes in particular) to obtain different timbres, ranges, and modes/tunings.  Early on I decided that making multiple instruments with individual qualities was preferable to making fewer, more complex, instruments that required more specialized techniques.  My desire is that the “breathing instruments” are as intuitive as possible to play so that the player’s state of mind is closer to singing (wordlessly) than executing a mechanical task.

Some of the edge-toned instruments of anarchestra:

ocarinas 05 santa fe

Ocarinas  Santa Fe 05

These are made from old school (steel, i.e., pre-plastic) fishnet buoys that my brothers and I found washed ashore on the beach as a boy.

ocarina tree 02-06 chilmark-santa fe

Ocarina Tree  Chilmark-Santa Fe 02-06

On the left are four slidewhistles (Furtwangler) , on the right are four ocarinas made from propane tanks, hanging below is a fishnet buoy ocarina.  The copper dome functions as a sound collector enabling all the instruments to use a single microphone.

steel flutes 01-02 chilmark

Steel Flutes  Chilmark 01-02

Two of these are side blown and two are end blown.

flutes random 04-09 santa fe-tucson

Round Flutes  Santa Fe-Tucson 04-09

square flutes 12-15 Tucson

Square Flutes  Tucson 12-15


Fourflusher  Tucson 12

This device allows a player to change keys without needing to put down and pick up separate instruments.

doubleplay 10 tucson

Doubleplay  Tucson 10

A device which allows one to play two flutes simultaneously.

panpipe copper 10 tucson

Copper Panpipes  Tucson 10

panpipes high 10 tucson

Steel Panpipes (high)  Tucson 10

panpipe low 10 tucson

Steel Panpipes (low)  Tucson 10

slide whistles 03 chilmark

Slidewhistles  Chilmark 03

Slidewhistles are tubes that behave the same way ocarinas do.

Furtwangler 02 chilmark

Furtwangler  Chilmark 02

Four slidewhistles playable simultaneously.

flutes & panpipes 02-06 chilmark-santa fe b

flutes & panpipes 02-06 chilmark-santa fe a

Flutes, Panpipes and Slidewhistles  Chilmark-Santa Fe 02-06


Ch’org  Tucson 16

A fire organ played with propane torches.


9 ports for activating twenty-seven flutes.  Can be ordered to whatever tuning.






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s