NAF Major Scales

A couple of different ways
to play a major scale on your NAF

NAF MAJOR SCALES

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In all of the previous articles about scales we've delved a little bit into how major diatonic scales are constructed but not how to play them. Some of my students asked me recently about how a major scale would be fingered so I thought I'd make this available to everyone.

The first thing to remember is that the basic scale on a NAF is a 5-note, or pentatonic 1-3-4-5-7 scale. The so-called "Minor Pentatonic". Although for most of you this is common knowledge, it's worth pointing it out since any full diatonic (7-note) major scale will have to have crossed fingering.

THE MINOR PENTATONIC SCALE
Very quickly let's review the Minor Pentatonic

NAF-Pentatonic-Minor-3

As most of you know, this is pretty easy to play. Starting with all the holes covered you lift one finger at a time beginning with the bottom finger, working your way up the flute, but never lifting the 4th hole from the bottom. In this scale it always stays covered.

A 6-NOTE MAJOR SCALE
If we want to play a Major scale starting on the root note of the flute (all holes covered) we can only get a partial 6-note major scale.

NAF-6-Note-Major-scale-3

As shown in the fingering above, to get the second note of this scale, the Major 3rd, there is a cross fingering. Remember that the NAF is not able to produce a 2nd above the root unless the player half-holes the bottom hole. So we skip the 2nd of the scale and go directly to the third. In this scale it is a Major 3rd, a half step higher than the minor third of the basic pentatonic scale. That is why the second note has a # symbol in front of it. To tell the player to raise the pitch a half step.

Next the bottom hole is uncovered to get the 4th. After that the fingering is very straightforward, the player uncovers each hole, right up the flute until crossing the fingers to get the octave.

In truth, this is a Hexatonic (6-note) scale. However, it is not a common scale in Western music.

THE FULL DIATONIC MAJOR SCALE
In order to get a full 7-note diatonic scale we need to start on the second note of the NAF basic scale, the minor 3rd.

Full-Diatonic-Maj-on-3rd-4

By starting on this note we are now making it the root of this scale, even if it is not the root of the flute itself. Basically put, most Western instruments can play in all 12 keys (and their scales). The root of each scale is determined by the key in which they are playing at any given time. In other words the root is not based on the lowest note of the instrument, but the scale or key a song is written in. NAFs, having a limited range and number of notes usually only play in key a specific flute is made in and can't move the root.

This scale is one of the few exceptions. Also, If you have any knowledge about music you know that relative major and minor keys are a minor 3rd apart, the same distance between the first and second notes on a NAF! So this makes perfect sense. If you don't get that don't worry. It has nothing to do with being able to play this scale.

I won't go into too much detail about this, the TAB should explain it farily well. There is a good amount of cross fingering and the last two notes are obviously over-blown, and while the majority of my flutes use the fingering shown above to get these two notes, a few do not. Your results may vary...

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Native American flute music by Scott August
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Lost Canyons
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DISTANT SPIRITS
SACRED DREAMS
NEW FIRE
ANCIENT LIGHT
LOST CANYONS
RADIANT SKY
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A big thank you to Robert Gatliff for the use of his TAB finger symbols

© 2011 Cedar Mesa Music. All rights reserved.


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