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About the pan flute:

We shall never know who first fastened together a number of pipes of different lenghts to from a primitive panflute, but it was so long ago, that the instrument became a part of European mythology as the pipes played by Pan, the god of nature.

In modern days, the panflute has been used extensively in Latin American and Balkan music. Especially in Romania the instrument has won recognition, later to gain renewed attention in the rest of Europe. It is used everywhere in Romanian folk music, from a joyful Hora to a sad bluesy Doina.

There are pan flute traditions on all continents, living traditions still today.


In China they found some very old pan flutes and they do a lot to preserve the instruments and the tradition. At the same time it is a very high level of activity to modernize the tradition and bring the pan flute into modern Chines music and educate a big number of players.

Pan flute in Norway:

Most people would probably denied that there are pan flute traditions in Norway. 

Mostly, they are right. 

But there are some historical peculiarities about the subject that will surprise most people. 


It is a fact, where archaeologists sticks the shovel in the ground around the world, they often encounter images, frescoes and sculptures of pan flute-playing people. Sometimes they also find remnants of intact musical instruments, in many cases, pan flutes in different designs.


When they dug "Copper Gate," the main street of the old the Viking settlement in the British Isles, Ljorvik, today's York, they found among many interesting findings, also a pan flute. A pan flute,

which most likely was played on by the Vikings. 

The pan flute was completely intact and was for a long time on the oldest pan flute that had been found

Along the coast of Norway for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, people has blown on the angelica pipe. 

Angelica is a rough reed-like plant with a hollow stem, such as bamboo. One has been using these plants to create primitive, pan flute-like instruments, or just blown into the reeds making sound. (Angelica plant was also used extensively in cooking in the Viking Age and was called the "ginseng.")

It differs from other pan flutes while it is made​from one single piece of wood. Most pan flutes are otherwise made of bamboo or reed pipes, bound or joined together to form a series of tubes in various lengths, giving varying pitch. 

(The longer the tube, the deeper the pitch.) 

In the one piece of wood the Viking pan flute was made out of, one had drilled cylindrical holes in different lengths, and in this way got tones of different pitches. 

The pan flute had five tones and was tuned in minor-like scale. (Natural tonal scale.)

Did the viking pan flute sound like this?

A few years ago I had a performance during the season opening of Theodor Kittelsen House, Lauvlia, which is now a museum. 

As I was introduced to the public, the guide told a compelling story about Kittelsen who used to lure his wife back home with his pan flute, when he thought she had spent too much time at the neighboring wife`s place.

I was very excited and asked if pan flute still existed? 

"Yes, we have it lying in one of the rooms. Wait a minute, I'll just find it for you. "said the guide.

I must say I was filled with great awe and enthusiasm as I stood there holding Kittelsens pan flute in my hands, the artist who through his paintings and drawings almost evoked and incarnated “the trolls,” the mythical figures of Norway.

The pan flute had dried up and was cracked and unplayable, but still full a real treasure.


It is natural to ask how Kittelsen came up with the idea of playing the pan flute. However, interested as he was in mythical figures, it is natural that he had become acquainted with Greek mythology and the forest god Pan and his pan flute. This he may have come across in his travels abroad, including Paris, where interest in ancient history and mythical figures was particularly high at the time. Who knows ............

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