Measuring 19" in length with four tuning holes, this unsplit Cottonwood (Populus fremontii) branch flute is tuned, with a clear, bright and spirited voice to a high D# minor Modes 1&4 pentatonic scale, playing 3 upper register notes. The bark has been well sealed to insure its continued adherence to the wood and sanded down at the tone holes to expose the finely finished grain. Deer lacing with turquoise and brass beads holds the bird to the nest. To help prevent wetout, the bird has been fitted with a redwood shoe for its absorption qualities and a drain hole, covered by the lacing, has been designed into the air chamber. The branch for this flute was gathered sustainably, with respect and gratitude, from a tree that continues to grow as part of the natural Riparian community within the San Marcos Creek watershed of California.
Black Elk relates why the Cottonwood tree is sacred to the Lakota:
”Long ago it was the cottonwood who taught us how to make our tipis, for the leaf of the tree is an exact pattern of the tipi, and this was learned when some of our old men were watching little children making play houses from the leaves. This too is a good example of how much grown men may learn from very little children, for the hearts of the children are pure, and therefore the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss. Another reason why we choose the cottonwood tree to be at the center of our lodge is that the Great Spirit has shown to us that, if you cut an upper limb of this tree crosswise, there you will see in the grain a perfect five pointed star, which, to us, represents the presence of the Great Spirit. Also perhaps you have noticed that even in the very slightest breeze you can hear the voice of the cottonwood tree; this we understand is its prayer to the Great Spirit, for not only men, but all things and all beings pray to Him continually in different ways.” ~ Black Elk
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