Flute Music

 

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On this page, Turtle Mound Flutes is pleased to provide "flute-symbol" tablature for a number of traditional songs: folk music, hymns, old show tunes, etc. A brief description of the notation is provided at the bottom of this page.

Songs with Guitar Chords

What sets our version apart from others that are available across the Internet is that most of the songs linked on this page contain guitar chords to allow guitar/flute duets. The flute tablature can be played on any key (pentatonic minor tuned) Native American Flute. The guitar chords are provided to play along with an A-minor flute, but may be transposed to play with flutes in other keys. Use the following table to transpose individual chords between keys. Simply find the column with the chord from the song at the top in red, and at the intersection with the row corresponding to the key of the flute you wish to play, find the chord to substitute on the sheet music.

Play with
flute in
this key

Chords
Am A Am A7 Bb Bm C C7 D D7 Dm Dm7 E7 F F7 G G7
Cm C Cm C7 C# Dm Eb Eb7 F F7 Fm Fm7 G7 Ab Ab7 Bb Bb7
Em E Em E7 F F#m G G7 A A7 Am Am7 B7 C C7 D D7
Fm F Fm F7 F# G Ab Ab7 Bb Bb7 Bbm Bbm7 C7 C# C#7 Eb Eb7
F#m F# F#m F#7 G Ab A A7 B B7 Bm Bm7 C#7 D D7 E E7
Gm G Gm G7 Ab A Bb Bb7 C C7 Cm Cm7 Dm7 Eb Eb7 F F7
 

Songs

Songs annotated with an blue asterisk (*) include guitar chords. Songs with a red asterisk (*) include lyrics in Cherokee. The music for all songs listed here is provided in PDF format. (If you do not have a program that can view and print PDF documents, you can download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html.)

  • Amazing Grace. (**) This song is probably the most popular tune among Native American Flute players - almost every player has a personal version. When European missionaries first traveled among the native peoples in this land, they found many who readily accepted Christianity. People like the Cherokee were already monotheistic (believed in one God, the Great Creator) and believed in a place where their spirit went after death. They also incorporated water in a cleansing ceremony ("going to the water") not unlike Christian baptism, and sang songs of praise in their ceremonies. It wasn't hard to accept the believe that the Great Spirit sent his Son to live on earth and then sacrificed Himself for us. Amazing Grace has been translated into the languages of many native people. Among the Cherokee it is considered a national anthem, It is said to have been sung often along the Trail of Tears. My version includes the words of the first two verses in Cherokee.
  • America (My Country Tis of Thee). (*)-Added May 25, 2011 This is a beautiful patriotic song that plays fairly well on the Native American Flute, with only a couple brief occurrences of the "half hole". And if you ever want to pay tribute to the British, the melody is also the British national anthem, "God Save the Queen".
  • Cherokee Morning Song. (**) This song is sometimes called Wen-De-Ya-Ho. Walela (the trio of Rita Coolidge with her sister and niece) does a beautiful rendition of this traditional Cherokee song on their first album. [You can hear part of this song if you follow the link above to Amazon.com and click on the "Listen to Samples" link. It's track 7.]
  • Down in the Valley. (*)-Added May 25, 2011 This is an old 19th century folk tune. The original lyrics are said to have been written by an anonymous inmate at the Raleigh State Prison, although many variations have evolved over the years. This song plays easily on the Native American Flute, with just a single upper register note, but one that plays well on most flutes. This is a good song to develop some dexterity with cross fingered notes.
  • House of the Rising Sun. (*) The guitar chords for this song include a "walking bass" sequence at a couple points that provide a counterpoint melody.
  • Greensleeves. (*) This old English folk love ballad is timeless. Note that there are some higher octave notes that may not sound well on all flutes.
  • Guide Me, Oh Jehovah (**) This is a traditional Cherokee hymn that was sung often on the Trail of Tears. The plea for help was desperate:
    • Guide me, Oh Jehovah
      On this path here below.
      You are very strong and I am very weak.
      All the time, all the time,
      Help me, all the time.
  • Jesus Loves Me. (**) This is a favorite children's hymn. It has special significance in our family as my maternal grandmother, who must have learned it from her father or grandfather in Cherokee, taught it to my cousin. I have included the Cherokee words here. Be sure to overblow the "high note" that appears several times, as a weak breath can create a lower pitch than desired on some flutes.
  • Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho.  (*)-Added May 25, 2011 This old spiritual is almost pure pentatonic minor, with only a couple of instances of the "half hole". The story behind this song comes from the Old Testament book of Joshua. When Moses died, God selected Joshua to lead the Israelites, who went out to conquer the land of Canaan. When they arrived at the walls of Jericho, the Lord gave Joshua strange instructions. But Joshua followed the Lord's directions, as described in the song, and the "walls came tumbin' down."
  • Kum-By-Ya. (*) This popular folk song is probably of African origin. It was a standard among folk groups in the fifties and sixties, and is still sung by church groups.
  • Nearer My God To Thee. (*) This beautiful old hymn requires the dreadful "half hole" to play traditionally. This version substitutes a trilled note to blend the sequence. You may want try the half-hole instead of the trilled note and the following one. Be sure to overblow the "high note" (with the G chord) as a weak breath creates a lower pitch.
  • Old Rugged Cross.  (*)-Added May 25, 2011 I think this is one of the most beautiful hymns ever written. It takes a special flute to be able to play it well, as it taxes the maker's upper register tuning and requires the "half hole" technique to play the original melody. If you find a flute that plays this song, don't forget which one it was if you want to play this song again!
  • Peace Is Flowing Like a River. (*) This arrangement is for the version that we do in our church Praise Band.
  • Red River Valley.  (*)-Added May 25, 2011 This old 19th century folk song is one of the first ones I learned on my first guitar, over 50 years ago, and it remains one of my favorites. It plays well on the Native American Flute, with only a couple of "half hole" notes in one line. 
  • Rock of Ages. (**) This old hymn is ageless and translates well to the Native American Flute. This version also includes the words of the first verse in Cherokee.
  • Silent Night. (*) This Christmas favorite may sound better on some flutes than on others due to one note in the higher octave.
  • St. James Infirmary. (*) This blues classic has been recorded by the likes of Louis Armstrong and Janis Joplin. This song plays on the flute extremely well.
  • Summertime. (*) This old Gershwin tune from the musical Porgy and Bess is a natural for the Native American Flute.
  • Wayfaring Stranger. (*) This 50+ year old Burl Ives classic includes passages that have a natural Native American Flute sound to them, reminding me of songs by Mary Youngblood and other top artists on their albums. I remember playing this tune when I first learned the guitar in the late 50s.
  • What Child Is This. (*) This old English Christmas song uses the melody from Greensleeves.
  • When the Saints Go Marching In.  (*)-Added May 25, 2011 I was just in Louisiana on vacation (May 2011) and we went down to New Orleans for the day. That day inspired me to work out this traditional jazz song for the Native American Flute. It turns out to be a natural for the flute with some cross fingering but nothing in the upper register and no occurrences of the "half hole" note.

Check back from time to time as new songs will be added to this collection as time permits. If you'd like to transcribe your own music, you can download a 5-page set of Blank Flute Tab Sheets and print them out.

Audio Files

Also available are the following audio (MP3) files that you might like to listen to:

  • Amazing Grace - Recorded at the Pineda Presbyterian Church (Melbourne, FL) on December 10, 2006. This version features my Native American Flute and guitar, and my lyrics in Cherokee. Keyboard accompaniment is by Tom Taylor.
  • Amazing Grace - Recorded at the Pineda Presbyterian Church (Melbourne, FL) on June 3, 2007. This version features the Pineda Presbyterian Praise Band.
  • Cherokee Morning Song - Features the Pineda Presbyterian Praise Band, recorded at the Pineda Presbyterian Church, Melbourne, FL, on August 5, 2007.
  • Guide Me, Oh Jehovah & Amazing Grace Medley - I played this flute solo at the Pineda Presbyterian Church on April 13, 2008. These two old hymns were heard to be sung often along the Trail of Tears. I played them to honor my ancestors who suffered on the trail.
  • Peace - I played this flute solo at the Pineda Presbyterian Church on August 3, 2008. This is an original piece.

"Flute-Symbol" Tablature Notation

The notation I have used in the provided music is intended to be very intuitive. Even so, an explanation may prove helpful for those who do not have formal training in reading music.

There are two primary elements to a musical note. First is the pitch (how high or low the tone is). This is indicated by the flute symbol showing which holes are covered (solid black circles) and which are uncovered (hollow, unfilled circles). The symbol is oriented with the mouth piece to the bottom, as you would look at a flute you are playing. The other element is the duration of the note, specifying how long to play that note relative to the others. Below each flute symbol is a number that tells how many "beats" to hold the note.

Set the rhythm by tapping your foot at an appropriate rate. Where the duration below the flute symbol is "1", hold that note for one tap (i.e., one beat). Where it is a "2", hold the note for two taps. And so on... A "half beat" is represented by "1/2". As you tap your foot, count the rhythm as your toe hits the floor: "1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 1 - " etc. Then and the word "and" as your foot is at the top of the count: "1 - and - 2 - and - 3 - and - 4 - and - 1 - " etc. Play two "half beat" notes by playing one on the full beat (when the toe hits the floor) and the other when you say "and" as the toe is at the top of its movement.

The "triplet" is a somewhat irregular pattern where three notes are played in a single beat. It is depicted in the music as a curved line under the three notes and the word "trip". An example of this is in the song Amazing Grace.

The "trill" - In Amazing Grace and Nearer My God to Thee I avoid the "half hole" note that cannot be played directly on the Native American Flute by using a trill (represented by the symbol next to the hole to be trilled). To trill a note, quickly cover and uncover the hole, causing the tone to oscillate back and forth. This is a useful technique that you will frequently hear in Native American Flute music and can be used elsewhere in your playing.

Part of the beauty of Native American Flute music comes from the little extras that embellish the basic melody line. One such embellishment is the grace note (sometimes called fill notes). These are shown in the music as smaller flute symbols between those that represent the regular melody line. There is no timing value assigned to grace notes. They are played quickly, but smoothly, at the start of a new note without disturbing the basic timing of the song.

 

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