Holly branch flute



Tree Spirit flutes

These flutes are
very unusual in that they are made from intact tree branches, and so far, I know of no other flutes like them being made in the UK in that they are not split and routed in the normal way. There is something very special about holding and at the same time playing a tree branch!

The flutes are worked entirely in one piece, using deep-bore drilling or burning to form the air chambers, and 'outside-in' cutting using a set of hand-made tools to fashion and fine-tune the voice box and nest areas. The blocks are fully carved (from the same branch) and painted representations of the native birds (blackcaps, blue tits, woodpeckers, robins) which might be found frequenting the English woods from which the branches were taken.



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Holly Branch flute in B with Robin block

Holly branch flute in high B with Robin block

The flutes are crafted mainly from holly or birch. The former is used because it is a particularly hard wood which can be bored and then carefully dried from inside and out with minimal risk of it splitting (unlike squared sections of holly which split horrendously quickly); also, the bark is very durable and holds well to the exposed sapwood at the mouth end. Likewise, the birch is easy to bore and dry, and has a the bark that is immensely resistant to decay or shedding (in ancient times it was used as a parchment for writing on simply because it never rotted). Flutes from other woods and with 'closed nests' are under development.

  Holly branch flute in high B with carved Robin block. The voice on this is particularly sweet and clear.

Click to enlarge the images
Tree Spirit flute in holly with carved Backcap block


Birch branch flute in F#m with carved and painted Blackcap block
Detail on Tree Spirit holly flute
Left: Nest, flue, SAC exit hole and sound hole; Right: blackcap block carved and ready for painting.

These flutes are treated internally with a particular combination of preservative oils in such a way as to minimise decay, and so far, flutes that were made five years ago have maintained their original condition and still give the clear strong sounds they were born with. However, the fact that these are natural woods means their integrity cannot be guaranteed longer than five years. The flutes need care in that excessive heat or cold could promote cracking or splitting of the wood so they must be kept at an even temperature at all times. Should any cracking occur, return the flute and I will see if the problem can be rectified.

Flutes in E, F and F# can be made, but these are more difficult to work because of the length of the bore and can therefore take a while to make!




PLEASE NOTE: I actually have got to the stage where I cannot make these flutes any more as my hands cannot hold the deep drilling equipment.


 The Owlhouse • Milford • Surrey • UK • dc@secondvoiceflutes.co.uk

© Second Voice Flutes 2005 on