Rich Halliburton's Querencia Flutes

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Location: Hermosa Beach, California, United States

After building flutes for a number of years now, I sneeze sawdust, and it scares my cat. That being said, it is however an absolute drop dead, no joke passion for me. When I'm not eating sawdust, I'm searching the entire planet for the most beautiful, exotic/bizarre woods, and gemstones I can find. I plow every dime back into purchasing these items, in addition to a few margarita supplies....... I don't follow, or pretend to understand a lot of the cardinal rules of flutemaking, and the end product seems to indicate I'm better off for it. PLUS, I continue to make great friends on a daily basis, most of whom possess humbling talent. ...Ya won't find that working at a carwash, even if it does pay better.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

 “Creative thought by artists, craftsmen, and scientists involves the subconscious reception of ideas from the future, which literally create themselves”.- Dr. Jack Sarfatti, physicist.

Holy Cow. It’s been SIXTEEN MONTHS since the last Querencia Woodwinds Occasional Newsletter.  I must have been in a coma. What’s worse, I really have nothing much to show for it, except a few flutes. I married off the last of my daughters about a week ago. It was a nice ceremony, if you don’t count the part where my 40 year old, twice used, dress shoes, completely fell apart. Heels fell off, soles chipped away, everything FELL OFF. By the time I walked her down the aisle they looked like ballet slippers……  On another note, I’ve been trying to learn the lap steel guitar, without a lot of success. I own three, one of which is 65 years old. My thinking is if I own a LOT of them, they will become easier to play. My skill level has already skyrocketed up to “irritating”, and with five more, I’m thinking I could sound like Ry Cooder. Neighbors have been enjoying the light melodic flute tuning from my shop for over a decade. They are not so happy with the lap steel and my Fender amp kicked in to “Overdrive”, in accompaniment to Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Tony Joe White. I move on…….Christmas was interesting. Santa brought Tasers for my daughters, and an inflatable unicorn hat for my cat Cisco. I got a pillowcase thing called a napsack, so I could sleep sitting up, like on a bench.  Lastly, in an effort to shed a few pounds, I’ve begun combining food groups, blending the healthy with the not so healthy. I present vegetables and hot cakes….stay tuned for the cookbook.
From the Querencia Flute Dept. ....... On a sad note, for any of you who follow this blog, or know this premier flute maker, Leonard Lonecrow McGann lost his battle with cancer. We in the flute making community, donated flutes for auction, cash, and anything of value, in an effort to bring Leonard home to his little farm on Difficult Creek Rd. in Virginia. He came home to throngs of well wishers from all over the nation. After a few days, all the well wishers departed, and Kitty, his wife, told me she was looking forward to a little alone time with him. He passed 7 hours later.  Bill Leyden composed and recorded a song for Leonard with one of his flutes. Rest well Leonard.

Bill Leyden is a prolific song writer and instrumentalist, crafting lush compositions wherein the Native American flute sits center stage. I visited him at his home on Corn Squeezing Ln. high above Prescott valley AZ. By the time I got home, he had written and recorded a song for me entitled “Querencia”  The boy has some mad skills, and I was truly touched, and honored.

Somewhere buried in a previous post, I mentioned a product called the “Walk a bout”. A small self contained mic and amp system you sling over your shoulder, with about 50 programmable voices, allowing the player to create echo, reverb, and all kinds of effects while, well…walking about. I had Scott August noodle around on the thing and posted it to YouTube, because there was nothing like it available. The unit was a chore to keep happily charged, with three different sources necessary to charge it. Well, that manufacturer is out of business, for a number of complex reasons, and a former product owner, thought…”There must be a better way. He has developed a beautiful product I proudly own. It takes 6 AA batteries that last over a year. Plugging the mic into the unit turns it on, removing the mic turns it off …..That’s it. Multiple voices and contours, you can check it out via the link. If you order, please tell Charles you read about it here.

I’m about to thin the herd of sold flutes on my website, and add 6-7 new instruments. I’m proud of all of them, but particularly the last of a second series of three, incorporating incredibly old materials in a 50,000 year old Kauri instrument. An interesting read.

OK then….I’ve posted pictures corresponding to aspects of this rant, but can’t figure out how to sequence them. I’m sure you can figure it out, if you got this far. In the meantime, according to TIME magazine, the one game played by children in every country on the planet…is “Hide and Seek”…………..tag, you’re it. Go outside and play.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

“The flute is a friend of silence-------play in deep valleys, mountains --silent night--and see the difference-----it’s heaven.” Supiyra Mehra

The website has a brand new look………..well, not exactly. It was new when I started this post….about a year ago.

I replaced a couple pictures of flutes that were built in 2006, and added a nifty video, created and updated by my friend and videographer, David Rivaldo. The site used to include a detailed section about how I build flutes, and that was…….well, partly dis-information. It was a little something for the sixty plus other builders out there, some of whom began building these instruments ten minutes ago. Despite the changes, it’s not really ramped up for sophisticated marketing, but then, neither am I ….. So it all works out. I utilized a brilliant website guy who assured me that Roadrunner cartoons were not a necessary component to marketing flutes on my website. We’ll see.

Weather, ………….and building stuff.

The Querencia Woodwinds Headquarters has three sides, not four. Plus, it has no heater. My work in the winter is done wearing an outfit that looks like I’m homeless, which is generally swim trunks, boots, a parka, and a multicolored ski beanie with a fluff ball thing on top. Flutes are best tuned @ an ambient temp. of 72 degrees F. However, during the winter, I can’t manufacture 72 degrees unless I set the place on fire. And then, it would be 72 degrees for about 15 seconds, en route to 1200… I have to wait until 72 degrees shows up, which can take months. First picture.

In the meantime, …….I’ve started building three-string guitars out of cigar boxes. Well, actually, I’ve been building one for over 2 months now, from a broken violin. I’ve built maybe ten so far, as gifts for Austin Hanks , Wyatt Earp, and Ray Wylie Hubbard, and an MD who’s keeping me alive in spite of my lifestyle. Building these instruments is way less fun than building flutes, because the learning curve includes a lot more math, and making a cigar box beautiful is like putting lipstick on a pig…It’s a cigar box……..but they don’t care about the ambient temperatures. A lady on Ebay was selling what she thought was an old cigar box. …...for 28 bucks… shipping. I built a 3-string Delta blues bottleneck slider out of it for my bride. It’s a 110-year-old Victorian jewelry box. Third picture.

One of the major guitar problems here at Querencia International is my shop is only 3.5 ft. by 7 ft. Perfect for building a flute, not so good for a guitar. I keep little flute tools over my head on magnetic strips, …so they’re handy. They include stainless steel dental picks. I knock them off moving the guitar around. Then they fall and stick in my head and shoulders. Sticking a dental pick in your head is not something you want to add to your bucket list. What I need is an airplane hangar, but I know me. I would just set up my shop in the hangar’s restroom so I didn’t have to walk so far to get to my dental picks.

From the “Livin’ the dream” department here at QW, I allowed doctors to go on an Easter egg hunt in my body, because I was feeling “off”. They told me it was a tumor in my bladder …..19mm. I told them it’s not a tumor,’s a penny. They told me it was not a penny….and got rid of it. …by means I will never discuss, or forget. …Ever. ……I still think it was a penny. Now I’m back to “Livin the Dream” sort of.

From the “Side Job” department, here at QW….my town is the smallest town in the State of California…..1.6 sq. miles. ….my street is two blocks long. Some drunk kid climbed up on our street sign, and broke it off. …………..four months ago. The city won’t replace it until a bunch of street signs get broken by lightning or drunk kids. Not a problem if you live on this street. A huge problem if you want a pizza or a cab. Querencia Woodwinds is now doing street signs. I didn’t want this job. Second picture.

A couple words yet again about flute “wet-out”…..

During play, at some point, you may notice the voicing of your NAF becomes fuzzy, which is due for the most part from pushing moisture from the compression chamber, up on to the flue, under the block. The air has to find its way around the moisture. This is not to say folks are slobbering into their instruments. In fact, I found out something pretty interesting the other day. When you play one of these wooden flutes, outside, and it’s say….FORTY DEGREES out there, your breath leaves your lungs at 98.6 degrees, assuming you’re not dead,… matter what the outside temp. I didn’t know this. So 98.6 degree air is slamming into a wooden chamber that is now around 40 degrees, and was originally around 72 degrees F. when the flute was initially tuned. This will turn the compression chamber into a rainforest. What I haven’t thought through is if it’s therefore better to play the flute at 72 degrees, or 98.6. I’m voting 72 degrees if for no other reason than to maintain proper tuning.

Lastly, a few years back, I posted where my daughter and her boyfriend (now her husband) bought a bus, and I was going to get my own room, with Spongebob Squarepants wallpaper. It just rolled out of the shop last week after 3 years, and no longer looks like a bus, but despite raising the roof 16” and a 15 ft. slide-out living room, it looks a little like a prison transport. Once it gets all the shiny stuff shined up, and exterior graphics, it will look great, but they’re starting to waffle on the Spongebob bedroom. Fourth and fifth pictures.

Ok then…. I’ve been remiss in building/posting flutes but I will remedy that this week by posting seven new instruments. Play Nice.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

“Art before commerce” Randy Jackson, American Idol, 3/16/11.

“God gave us music that we might pray without words.” Jon Norris Music, (attributable to the inscription on an opera house in Germany.)

QUERENCIA WOODWINDS MISSION STATEMENT…. “I will build the finest flutes possible, from the finest rare and exotic materials available on Earth…… except during my nap, during Happy Hour, and when I get called in for dinner.”

Well, the magic continues here at Querencia Woodwinds World Headquarters. I’m no marketing genius, and I can prove it. I’m working on flutes with interchangeable barrels or sound chambers. You’ll be able to buy two flutes, and only pay for one….Don’t feel like playing your Am flute anymore today? Pull the barrel off and replace it with your Em barrel. The concept is not new….but the R&D dept. here at Querencia World HQ figured out how to do it without charging a trillion dollars. The downside is that we, meaning me, or I, won’t be throwing in a silk or deerskin lined presentation box, signed by some notable recording artist. In fact, I won’t include any box at all, other than the one used for shipping. Stay tuned.


We played an event on the Redondo Beach boardwalk/pier in mid-June. One flute and 12 drummers, manning timbales, Djembes, kettle drums, congas, and three seven-piece kit sets. These folks generate a LOT of noise. My job during drum circles, which can host 30-40 participants, is to basically provide a melody for a train wreck. This was different as there were few participants. We actually got a standing ovation. We did so by taking a lot of the chairs away after the first break, hence the standing part of the ovation…… On a more somber note, if you enjoy the wild abandon associated with drum circles….please enjoy them sparingly. As the flute player, using cordless amplification, I roam well outside the circle, and I’ve been doing this for 8 years. My personal best distance was an eighth of a mile. …big drum circle. I’ll tell you why. It is estimated that 27 million folks in this country have cerebral aneurisms or ballooning blood vessels in their heads. It’s more dangerous to fix them than to try and get through life without having one burst. I’ve seen three people suffer hemorrhagic stroke in drum circles; one, while talking to me. As explained to me by that individual’s neurologist, the brain has pockets of fluid, which start vibrating in the midst of a drum circle with a strong bass mother beat. The vibration can rupture cerebral blood vessels, and the party is over. All I’m saying is use moderation. ….and stay away from the guy with the really BIG drum. I would probably sidestep the next stage-side visit to a Guns n Roses concert as well.


Most folks take for granted a musical pitch wherein A is tuned to 440 Hz, with the rest of the notes following that tuning benchmark. This pitch was more or less standardized in 1955, for all the wrong reasons. I have begun building a number of flutes wherein A is tuned to 432 Hz, known as the Verdi Pitch. The voice difference is both subtle, and remarkable. The story of this pitch is full of intrigue, and mathematics, but nevertheless, worth learning about. This link presents a good starting point… . On another note, I built a couple of headstocks similar to those used with the interchangeable barrels, only the barrels are sections of PVC wherein I can experiment with obscure and unusual tunings, without destroying a perfectly good flute, and sending it to my Querencia wind chime. If I screw up the tuning or melodic sequence, I just slap in another three cents worth of PVC pipe, and start over…. My latest success is a six hole Celtic tuning, referred to by Scott August as “Celtic with a minor 7th thrown in”. My personal favorite definition of this tuning was provided to me by Clint Goss. Both he and Scott are premier music theorists, but Clint’s “Mixolydian Hexatonic” is the hands-down winning definition. Most of the time when I chat with either of these two gentlemen, within seconds, I’m lost and have no idea what they’re talking about.

Speaking of tunings, and Scott August….He’s written and performs a beautiful downloadable song for Leonard (Lone Crow) McGann, with 100% of the proceeds going to help Leonard fight his battle with bone cancer. Leonard is a legendary flute maker, and Scott plays this number on one of Leonard’s mode 2/5 flutes. As soon as I heard this song, I called Leonard and had him build me one of these flutes. You might want to do the same after hearing it. You can get some information about the flute, and get to the sample/purchase page for the song here….. A little note about Leonard. This guy is the real deal. He's a legend among flute builders, and lives on ‘Difficult Creek Road” outside….WAY outside... Bedford, Virginia, in the mountains. While I had him on the phone one day, I did a Google Earth search for his house. What filled my screen initially was a mass of mountains and trees. As I drilled down, I spotted a little clearing which then became a dirt road, a barn, a house with a pick-up out front, a little tilled field, and some small shacks. I inquired as to what the blue dot was in the middle of his property, as I was using it as a target, to find his place in the middle of nowhere. I thought it was perhaps a Jacuzzi. It was not. He informed me it was a poly tarp tied between three trees so his dog could get out of the rain. If you look at his place from space, look for the tarp. And please say a prayer or two for Leonard as well.

I hope everybody experiences a warm and joyous holiday season. I would also hope you mark the New Year by remaining healthy, wealthy, and wise. I realize the part about wealthy is a huge challenge, unless you own a bank, so in the coming week I’m going to be deeply discounting my current flute inventory. If you do own a bank, let me know in advance, and I’ll let you pay the old price for an instrument, since you’re buying it with my money anyway. Play nice. RH

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

“The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is, are the ones who have gone over it.” Hunter S. Thompson

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." — Aldous Huxley (Music at Night and Other Essays)

Wow, It’s been about 4 months since the last newsletter went sailing off the presses. I hope all the folks who read this are well and making music, even if it’s just clothespins and playing cards in the spokes of your bicycle.

Since last we spoke, I visited with old friends and made a few new, interesting friends in Quartzsite AZ during their annual tumbleweed, dirt, rock and mineral fest; figured out a way to reasonably make flutes fine-tunable; waged a territorial battle with some skunks here at Rancho Relaxo, and spent some time on Ambergris Caye, off the coast of Belize with Jerry Jeff Walker and a bunch of his fans. Overall, it’s all been good, if you don’t count the part about the skunks.

Quartzsite and Mexico
Quartzsite yielded some interesting material for flute inlay, including Crazy Lace agate, 120 million-year-old Russian ammolite, turquoise from different mines here in the Southwest, California gold in rose quartz matrix, boulder opals from Mexico and Australia …….and a two pound bag of 65 million-plus-year old Raptor egg shells from a huge nesting hole in China, and I have no idea why I bought that…..After three days of eating wind swept dirt in Quartzsite, my road dog Cragorio and I decided to drive from there to Mexico. Specifically the destination was Craig’s house in Rosarito Beach, below Tijuana. The area used to be called Mexico’s “Gold Coast” and now, thanks to the Sinaloa and Beltran-Leyva cartels, is better known as “Blood Alley.” Knowing my weakness for bar hopping in Mexican border towns, he suggested we drive down to Mexicali, then just turn right, toward the sun till we run into the Pacific Ocean, 174 km along the Mexican border. I pointed out two things to him. First, he needs to brush up on current events, and second, I don’t want my head cut off and put in a cardboard box. We did it my way, turning a 3 hour drive into 9 hours, and getting lost in the Anza Borrego desert…. A story for another time.

Fine-tunable wooden flutes
Taking note of the fine tunability of some silver flutes as well as some bass English whistles, I noticed that basically they were built with a sleeve at the head joint, allowing the player to make the entire flute slightly longer, or shorter, by a few centimeters. I thought about such an adjustment for a wooden flute, because wood is a very dynamic material, reacting to humidity, altitude and ambient temperature. This can translate into a ten cent (think percent) variability from the original spot-on tuning. Although five cents sharp or flat is imperceptible, unless you’re a bat, some folks want to be able to adjust the tuning to accommodate different playing environments. So, I’m building a few. Specifically, rather than tackle the engineering nightmare of a sleeve at the back end of the sound chamber, I cut and shape a piece to slide onto the end of the flute, like a ring on a finger. The flute is tuned using analog, digital, and strobe tuners, while the piece is half its depth on the end of the flute. Pushing the piece back, flush with the flute bbl. shortens the flute by almost half an inch, sharpening it up about five cents. Adjusting the piece outward from its original position likewise flattens the note by about five cents. There are a couple of photos here someplace that you can click on to enlarge. Some folks will probably think.......This man needs a vacation ........................................ So I took one.

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
If you’re from Texas or Oklahoma, you know Jerry Jeff Walker…probably personally. Being raised in Burbank, California, I of course…..never heard of him. He’s some kind of middle American icon, and since my bride grew up in a VERY small town in Oklahoma, his was the background music of her young life. He goes down to his beach house on this little spit of land, twice a year, and (now this is brilliant)…..performs in these little palapa bar concerts for the folks who come down and hang out with him. What a concept for a working vacation. He does a couple of concerts, throws in a meet and greet, and will autograph ANYTHING you throw in front of him. In our case, it was my bride’s new Voyage-Air folding guitar…. Overall, the place is truly paradise. Gentle trade winds, coconut palms, a blending of Mayan, Guatemalan, and Caribbean influences, Belikin beer and two dollar rum and coke you can carry with you around town. Their local rum tastes like crème soda, even without the coke…..but I digress. The third leg of the journey to this sand bar was really interesting. We took a plane so small that I could have reached forward and played with knobs and levers in the cockpit. The whole leg took only 15 minutes, and I don’t think we got more than 300 ft. off the ground. There were ten passengers and the plane was full. It was great. The hammock photo is in front of Victoria House. We didn't stay there. At 2 to 6 thousand dollars a week, I can afford to stay at Victoria House for about eight minutes.

Having been to this event before, pre me, my bride knew a bunch of folks, most of whom were very talented musicians. Somebody was always hosting a guitar pickin on their porch or balcony, so I eagerly packed a couple of flutes, seven Lee Oskar blues harps, as well as my Walkabout sound system for the trip. Dean Cavill dragged his pedal steel guitar down to Belize, but wanted to noodle around on the Voyage-air folding guitar. He asked that I join in with one of my flutes and the Walkabout, and this was a snippet of the result.
Speaking of the Walkabout, ……here’s a video of Scott August noodling around in my dining room on one of my single bbl. Drones, hooked up to the sound system.

OK then, I’m learning so much about this blog thing, I may start posting old Roadrunner cartoons. In the meantime, looks like Spring’s around the corner, so if you’re looking for something to do, waiting for the snow to melt so you can find your car, ….I just added seven long- overdue flutes to my website. As always, play nice.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

“The word imagination gets little respect. For many people, it connotes “make believe,” and is primarily the domain of children and artists. But the truth is that your imagination is the single most important asset you possess. It’s your power to form mental pictures of things that don’t exist yet. Your imagination is what you use to design your future. “Excerpt from Pronoia, by Rob Brezsny

Very little flute work. ……again. I have a sundeck here at Rancho Relaxo. I built a railing for that sundeck from 2x4s, long before most of you were born. ….it has been a termite “Happy Meal” for the last 25 of those years, and is mostly just sawdust covered with paint. I’m replacing a lot of it, mostly as a courtesy to my friends, who are no longer as young and “fit” as they once were, and may have difficulty recovering from a 15 ft. header onto a driveway should they lean against my railing. Not to mention the risk of shattering some nice margarita stemware in the process….. Moving along….


My flute building is artistically experiencing a transition, not unlike a glider caught up in a breeze, in that I never know where it’s going. I’m a flute maker, and I’m North American, I’m not Native American. I made a note of this somewhere in this blog about 2-3 years ago, figuring no one would see my flutes on the internet with that designation via Google, or any other search engine. Now, I’m not so concerned. It has something to do with a desire to be simply creative, as opposed to chasing a defined market. Native Americana is not my body of experience, nor is it in my genetic code, but I’ve been building NA style flutes because they appeal to me. Three generations of my family were born here in Southern California, and I’ve spent a sizable amount of spare time in Northwest Mexico, so to keep this adventure a satisfying cathartic experience, I have to be true to those influences and experiences that are mine alone. I don’t really get to do otherwise. Although I’m a member of a Scottish clan, dating back centuries, I’ve never been to Scotland, I don’t speak Gaelic, I’ve never met any of these folks, and refuse to wear a kilt. I am therefore not motivated by personal experience to start building bagpipes. With a personal cultural history that’s relatively boring by comparison, I nevertheless plan to continue crafting beautiful instruments that are mine alone and best characterized as North American flutes.

Thanks to Michael Graham Allen, I will continue building a six hole, minor pentatonic instrument, with the same stunning voice characteristics as noted in my unsolicited testimonials, but I’ll follow my personal artistic inclinations, rather than chasing an overworked Native American market and fan base. Will I lose a percentage of my following? I don’t believe so. Does it concern me? No. I build musical instruments as a cathartic experience to keep my demons at bay, and I sell them, or I don’t. In any event, they will remain universally appealing, beautiful instruments none the less.
I now need to find a web designer to re-vamp my homepage. My designer, with a PhD in particle physics, understandably moved on to other things, despite promising I would remain his only client. After building the websites for Microsoft, and MSNBC, I remain honored and amazed at what he created for me. I believe he’s currently playing with the supercollider in CERN. Moving along….,

From the ”Questions you constantly, over and over again, never ask” Dept. ………Why do you have so many fetish blocks that look like birds, instead of like, elephants, armadillos, and gophers? A: I purchased this great natural abalone in sheet form, @ 5x9 inches for $60.00 a sheet, and find that beautiful multicolor abalone doesn’t look so good on the sides of mammals or rodents….. or whatever family elephants are from. It just seems to work best and look beautiful, on birds. Birds can get away with splashy colors. The material might look good on a trout fetish, but I don’t want to adorn any of my flutes with a trout. I think when I do, it’s time to quit.

Switching gears for a moment, a brief observation about the economy. Actually, it’s a question about our “recovery.” What the Hell happened to it??? My flute sales are upside down by about 50% for the year and according to a number of fellow builders, this little cottage industry is off by 30-60% overall. In some circles, all of the stimulus programs are collectively being referred to as “trickle up poverty.” Undaunted, I will however continue to fire out flutes at the blistering speed of about one every two to three weeks, and I’ll do it for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I don’t know how to do anything else, and secondly, I formed the opinion years ago, that on a global scale, every small child in the world wants at least one flute, as well as that small child that constantly dances around in all of us until we die. With that in mind, following this posting, on 10/17/2010, I’m reducing the price of every flute by an additional ten percent.


Where do I start. Generally, or probably always, outside temperature readings are done in the shade. If you cannot find shade however, it’s much more interesting to know what the temperature is in the sun, where you happen to be standing, which in my case, was 122 degrees Fahrenheit, although it was 102 in the shade. I think there are parts of the sun that aren’t even that hot. Anyway, I sold a flute on Friday, shortly after arrival, and immediately went over and gave the money to John Kulias, for one of his incredible ceramic drones. I spent the weekend hanging out with some flute makers that I love dearly, and overall had a great time………….right up to the point where I was banned for life from continued participation in the Festival ….for “bad behavior.” Things went sideways very quickly about an hour before the end of the event, in part due to that little ADHD problem of mine. Now that I have a new festival sign, and no festival in which to display it, it’s going in front of my corporate headquarters, making ingress and egress a little more challenging, but adding a distinctive look as well.

Switching gears once again, the bus, although looking like collateral Hellfire damage from Iraq, is really taking shape. The roof of this monster was raised 16 inches, windows torn out and replaced with black glass, and the 14 foot hydraulic living room slide out is fully operational, awaiting sheet metal. Jenna and Dustin are balking at my request for exterior Spongebob Squarepants graphics… but maybe I’ll have a place for my new Querencia Woodwinds sign. Sweet.

Ok, I’ve said enough. Go outside now, and play nice.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

“Touch not the flute when drums are sounding around; when fools have the word, the wise will be silent.” Johann Gottfried Von Herder .

“A man needs something to do.”- Waylon Payne to my Bro-in-law Wyatt Earp. Oct. 2002.

I didn’t touch flutes for over a month. Then I built one and left out two of about 25 steps. Not good. I was working on an outdoor cabana/spa project that a number of you folks …….uh, paid for. I figured if I build enough crap in my backyard, I won’t have any lawn left to mow. I basically built the flute to see if I could still do it. Having probably a touch of early onset Alzheimer’s and a generous helping of ADHD, I end up with short term memory loss, but I’m too busy chasing fragmented ideas to notice. There’s always something new to stare at. So the flute build was just a test. In my world, the phrase “It’s like riding a bike, you just never forget” has no meaning whatsoever.

Along those same lines, before I forget, there’s a nifty little product available now, to help you find your car in a parking lot. It’s an inexpensive, stripped down little keychain GPS receiver. I’m thinking of getting one so I can find my way back to the living room from the bathroom. This “Golden Years” bull**** is highly over-rated.

We had an Easter Sunday earthquake here in Southern California that I’m kind of thankful for. I’m not particularly fond of earthquakes, but as it was occurring, I thought I was having some kind of brain event, like a stroke, because everything and everybody was kind of floating around. I’m happy it was an earthquake because I think it’s probably much easier to build flutes after an earthquake, than after a stroke.

On another note, although I build flutes, my bride has a real job, and she goes to it four days a week. The R&D Div. of Querencia Woodwinds never sleeps, and since creativity knows no bounds, and I make her lunch each day for work, I came up with the “Querencia Bag O’ Pie” for desert. It’s just a slice of lemon meringue pie, or cherry or whatever, dumped into a Ziploc sandwich bag…..with a plastic fork. I think the concept is brilliant although it doesn’t look too good. So far she hasn’t taken me up on my bag o’ pie, and won’t go near it. She still likes the bag o’ Cheez-Its though.

My thoughts on Tablature……
Putting our flute hats on for a moment. I want to write a little bit about the instrument specific notation system known as tablature. As opposed to standard notation. This basically allows you to play previously composed music, guided by little flute pictures, depicting various finger holes covered or open. Robert Gatliff, a flute historian, has a number of interesting archives at among them being tablature to contemporary music. I think for the purpose of capturing the essence of a favorite little song, tablature is the ticket, with significant limitations. Specifically, since your NA flute is tuned to a minor pentatonic, the majority of contemporary music will require some degree of half holing, and cross fingering to play the melody. My concern is that novice flute players, who limit themselves to trying to duplicate songs…exclusively, will lose interest in an instrument that is so easy, and has so much more to offer. Recent bone flute discoveries indicate this instrument has been around for AT LEAST 35,000 years. Those folks didn’t have tablature. They didn’t have sheet music either. What they did have, was a passionate desire to express themselves with sound, either by mimicking the noises of the natural world around them or recreating a melody that was just stirring in the soul. From my perspective, playing a previously composed song with your flute, is an accomplishment, while capturing a melody from your soul, is cathartic, and sheer magic. Ok then.

Yosemite flute festival..........

The only field trip I take each year, flute-wise, is to this festival. It’s in Oakhurst, which isn’t exactly in Yosemite…but about 30 miles away. Anyone who likes flutes, and thinks they might want one, should make their purchase at a flute festival, where you get to noodle around on lots of flutes, from lots of builders. If you’re considering attending this event, and think you might want to purchase one of MY flutes…bring cash. Otherwise I’m going to get that call from the nice lady in Sacramento about the monkey. (see the blog entry of 3/7/10) What’s great about this event is the area is spectacular, even if you hate flutes. The mountains are beautiful, you’re at the front door of Yosemite, Oakhurst is a real town, and down the road is a huge Indian casino that looks from the road like a giant Russian penitentiary. If the airfare is too pricey from where you live, the festival isn’t for almost 4 months. You could walk. If you’re in Maine…leave tomorrow, and don’t forget the bottled water. In any case, have a great summer.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

“The flute is not an instrument that has a good moral effect. It is too exciting.” Aristotle


FROM THE CHEAP FLUTES DIV. OF QUERENCIA WOODWINDS ……….. Almost everybody’s fired. Easy to do, since they were mostly just me ….. but the alcoholic monkey. He stays, because he still does my books.

There are over one hundred … and counting … folks that can build and market a basic NA style flute. I’ve decided to forget trying to become one of them. Buy your first few flutes from these folks. If you thereafter lose interest, and give it to your dog for a chew treat, you’re not going to jump off an overpass because of what you paid for it, and your dog will have something swell to do for about ten minutes. You can even make a great video of your dog … or perhaps your child … gnawing on the flute, and I get to keep my demons at bay by creating works of art that make noise. Way more fun for me, less expensive for you.

On another note, for those folks in the United States who live in California, and might be interested in purchasing one of my flutes ... I need you to move out of state first, and I’ll tell you why. Although the monkey does the books, I have to do the state tax paperwork and sign it, because the monkey can’t write his name, which incidentally is Bon Bon. When you’re in California and purchase a flute from my website, PayPal knows you’re in California … I don’t know how … but then charges you sales tax. Now I don’t have a problem with reporting/paying sales tax, because this state is broke. But every year, I screw up the reporting. Depending upon where you live, I have to figure district, city and county taxes as well, and invariably, after submitting all this stuff, with a tax payment, I get a phone call from some nice lady in Sacramento, asking if perhaps a monkey did my taxes. On average, I only sell a couple of flutes a year to folks in California, so the revenue generated by MY business is not going to turn around a state economy that is in shambles. What I propose is this. Pack your laptop, and take a road trip to say, Las Vegas. Buy a flute and I’ll ship it to your hotel. OR, send some cash to grandma in Iowa, have her buy the flute, and then ship it back to you. Better yet, go visit grandma and get your flute, since you haven’t seen her in about a decade anyway.

Starting yesterday, I’ll be contracting with Ed Dougherty, of, to provide my clients with samplers of a very special flute wax he mixes up in small batches at home in his kitchen. Specifically, he did a lot of experimentation to come up with an FDA safe beeswax formula combining aromatherapy essential oils, with antiviral and antifungal properties as well. He currently makes a Tea Tree/orange formula, Lavender/lemongrass, and unscented beeswax with sweet almond … I suggested he could probably whip up beeswax and Vaporub for folks with a cold …… My ideas are not always good ideas. Anyway, I’ll be including a quarter ounce sampler, and if you love it, (I know your flute will love it), you can order a fifty-gallon drum or whatever from Ed. I don’t plan to carry it because I don’t want to go to the Post Office that often.


At the urging of family, and some flute folks. I joined Facebook, to “network.” I don’t even want to network. I might “network” if I didn’t have to also type. I’m a great typist, I just don’t like doing it. Anyway I joined this thing and within 30 minutes, my email in- box went from a very comfy “empty” to THIRTY TWO MESSAGES. It was spinning like the read-out on a gas pump. Apparently, within half a day, I’ve become friends with a lot of folks I’ve never met before in my life. The odds are good there’s at least one serial child killer among them. If you’re not familiar with it, Facebook will scour your email address book and turn EVERYBODY in it into potential best friends or something. THEN, it will try to introduce second generation folks…who don’t know you, but know one of the folks in your address book. If you make one of these people your friend … they of course have friends, and now you have another common friend which is the person you don’t know, and you start collecting third generation people you don’t know, as friends. I’m no genius, BUT potentially, your buddy list will expand geometrically, to eventually include MILLIONS of people. That means millions of emails, millions of birthdays you have to remember, flow charts you have to draw, trying to figure out who’s who ... you get the picture. It’s very complicated, and they don’t send you a pamphlet. I like pamphlets.

I don’t even like phones. I have a cell phone, but the only way I can keep the battery from going dead is to keep it turned off. So I do. I should probably just store it in a desk drawer as well, so I don’t lose it. Instant communication is highly overrated. If I can be contacted in real time, somebody is going to want me to do something, or pay something … in real time. In my next life, I want to come back around 1860, but not as a horse. They all had to work too hard since they were the agreed-upon beast of burden. However, speaking of horses, the Pony Express was the communication ticket. With the Pony Express, folks didn’t have to act on ANYTHING for four to six weeks, if at all. Plus when your message did arrive, it was with a pony you could pet for a few minutes before actually doing something about your message. Life was good.

Well, I think I’ve said enough. Have a great Spring.