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Where Have All the Fluiers Gone?

The common fluier is a Romanian end-blown flute with a recorder-like fipple for sound production. "Fluier" itself translates to "flute" and I have seen the term used to refer to anything from common fluier to Romanian caval to Western concert flute to nai. The one that I have (pictured) comes from what was historically the most common subset of Romanian fipple flutes, those with six holes; however, both the number of holes and the key of the instrument has varied from place to place.

Nai and its Niche

Nai is an instrument with a bit of an identity crisis. The multitudinous contradictions it embodies in its search for a musical niche are what make it both such a fascinating subject of study and a somewhat frustrating one. So what exactly is this panpipe? Is it Romanian or foreign? Traditional or classical? High art or folk practice? Trying to answer these questions requires that one wade through tangled histories of peoples, governments, and economies. It also reveals the constructedness of these categories and the grey areas such distinctions fail to acknowledge. I will start in this post by sharing some of what I know about the instrument.

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