“Rail Bridge MWB 2/81” is a collection of improvised pieces played by Tony Morris on Amerynd Flutes. Culturally, the music is not Native American.
Each piece was recorded on location under a railway bridge on the stunningly beautiful Esk Valley Railway in North Yorkshire. Tony is attracted to places with interesting acoustic properties. Here the Railway Bridge is set at the confluence of the River Esk and the Arncliffe Beck with steeply wooded slopes on two sides of the triangle.
The attraction of on location recording is that one gets all kinds of accompanying sounds, in this case, running water, bird song, wind in trees, traffic, birdsong and the occasional loud surprise as on Track 1.
Just as ‘French Horn’ is the name of a musical instrument, so is ‘Native American Flute’. The name does not imply that the instrument was made by an enrolled-member of a tribe federally recognised by the United States Government anymore than ‘French Horn’ implies it was made by a person with French citizenship. However, American lawyers, native or not, have got at this so that makers who are not so enrolled have to use the term Native American ‘Style’ Flute. This is clumsy and legalistic and so Tony Morris has invented the word ‘Amerynd’ Flute as a cover all term and uses it for the first time on the Guerrilla Pilgrims Album packaging. The ‘y’ is pronounced as in ‘rhyme’.
Track 9 is played on a High D flute 6 hole made by Geoff Norman of Uguna Flutes which he based on an old Lakota flute design. I call it my ‘Bumblebee’ flute. The story goes that another flute maker measured it carefully, put the measurements in to his computer programme and declared that his computer said that the flute could not work. Well, technically, bumblebees are not supposed to be able to fly. If you look at Geoff’s website www.ugunaflutes.co.uk you will see that he calls this type of flute a ‘Beltrami’. If you go to his website you will find a fascinating story as to why.
My flute is made from a piece of spruce from a tree grown in Italy which is a nice link for a ‘Beltrami’.
On Track 14 I use another ‘Beltrami’ 6 hole flute in C made from Sycamore.
On Tracks 1 and 11 I use another of Geoff’s flutes made to a more conventional design in Mid G 6 hole flute. It is made from Port Orford Cedar and is as light as a feather and very responsive. The block or fetish is in the shape of a badger (Uguna) and was my first flute from Geoff who has his workshop in Okehampton, Devon.
Track 6 is played on a High B 6 hole flute made of English Flame Cherry by David Cartwright of Second Voice Flutes of Milford, Surrey. It was my first flute from him. I had seen it advertised on his website www.secondvoiceflutes.co.uk as a ‘Gathering Flute’ and that it could be played outside in adverse weather conditions. I tested it during the making on the Cliff tops at Whitby in North Yorkshire and at Tranmire on the North Yorkshire Moors. It worked well in gale force conditions.It has two blocks or fetishes, a purple crested heron’s head for outside playing and a grey crested heron’s head for inside performance.
Tracks 8 is on another of David’s Flutes, a High A 5 hole flute made from Virginian Flame Maple in his ‘little owl’ series for children and beginners. I fell in love with it while demonstrating it for David at a Mind Body Spirit Fair in Whitby as one had only to breath into it for it to respond. The original block is a wing shape but as I was to use it in school demonstrations David made me a second block in the shape of a hare.
Track 3 is played on an E drone flute made by David from English Walnut with block in the shape of a wing and mouthpiece made of Ash. A drone flute is a double barrelled flute.
Tracks 7 and 13 are played on a Low B flute made by David in Lime Wood. As this wood is not used in America or the UK for making flutes it is a very rare flute. The block or fetish is in the shape of a seal’s head with the markings of an immature seal. On the lower part of the flute is painted a Green Man on which you can see a face whichever way up the flute is held. The theme of the flute is metamorphosis. Air breathed into the flute changes to music. The river runs to become sea. The tide flows up the river to become the river. The seal is symbolic of these changes. As an immature seal, will it change into an adult seal or a selkie (male or female)? The Green Man symbolises the metamorphosis of the Seasons and of life itself.
Track 4 is played on a High D flute made by Odel Borg of High Spirits Flutes of Arizona, USA out of Birch with a Merlin as the fetish. This flute and Odel’s other flutes are Plains Flutes in style namely the block is set on the curve of the flute whereas my other flutes are Woodland Flutes with the block slotted on a flat base cut into the flute.
Track 12 is played on another of Odel’s flutes a Mid G made of Cedar and stained black with a Raven block or fetish. This was my very first flute bought in the First Nations Trading Post at Banff, British Columbia, Canada and was recommended in a conversation with a Raven. But that is another story.
Track 10 is played on a Low D made by Odel Borg of Redwood Cedar. The block or fetish is a the head of a Condor.
His website is www.highspiritsflutes.com
Tracks 2 and 5 are played on an A drone flute made by Ed Rebec of Spirit of the Woods Flutes in Virginian Flame Maple. It was the first of my drone flutes and, though I have used it only once on this Album, it is my most used flute when playing impromptu in Folk Clubs as it fits easily into a bag and has a dramatic effect on audiences and other musicians when the drone is brought in.
Ed has a fascinating website on which you can listen to flutes played in different keys www.spiritofthewoodsflutes.com
Album Cover Photos: Originals by Tony Morris, inset from photo by Phil Miers
Design and artwork by Tony Morris.
|▼ CD-R 1|
|1||A Rail Surprise
|4||Bobby Dipper on Stone
|5||Brick and Beck
|7||Drowned of the Esk Rise and Fall
|10||Lost in the Fog
|12||Rail Arch Romance