A simple willow whistle.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The willow flute is simple in design, as is the case with most flutes. It differs from most others, however, in that it does not have any finger holes to manipulate the sound that it emits. It has a fipple mouthpiece, meaning that the air escapes from a small hole just below where the musician blows into the instrument. The willow flute is also known as a sallow flute and was created by the Scandinavians and was often used in their traditional folk music. It is certainly a unique instrument that has its own unique sound and one that has been around for a fairly long time.
When the willow flute was first created, it was made out of the bark of willow trees and this is where its name came from. Today, this flute is often made out of plastic, like other types of flute such as the fife or recorder. When looking at how a willow or sallow flute is played, one might be curious at how one can alter the sound to create different notes.
Most other flutes have either finger holes or holes with keys that would allow a musician to manipulate the sound made by the flute in order to make different notes. This particular flute, however, does not have any finger holes; instead, the musician alters the sound that is made by the willow or sallow flute by changing the amount of air they blow into the instrument. To be more exact, the musician alters the pressure of the air blown into the instrument. The sound is also changed by the musician covering or uncovering the end of the willow flute. Covering the end of the flute actually creates certain overtones while leaving the end of the flute open allows for a different set of overtones to be created.
The willow or sallow flute is certainly unique in many different ways. First, its design is quite a difference from how other more typical flutes are created in that it does not have any finger holes drilled into the tube. It is also unique in the sound that it can create. While it may seem odd in how it is played in order to created different sounds, it is not an overly difficult instrument to learn. It can be quite challenging at first, but once someone gets used to it the instrument can be quite easy to play. It is not an overly expensive instrument and can be easier to acquire than other, more complicated instruments.
It may not be the best for a beginner, but it can be an instrument that a more experienced musician might enjoy. It can be more difficult for someone who is new to playing music because it is not like playing a recorder or some other basic flute. A person playing this particular instrument has to have good control of their breathing in order to create the sounds that they want. Once this is mastered, the instrument can be quite rewarding in the music that it can allow one to create.