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Miscellany

The Seljefløyte

Photo of Alison playing the seljefløyte

Photo of Alison Melville by Tara McMullen, courtesy of the Toronto Masque Theatre.

Since 2000 I have been playing a bit of Norwegian 'willow flute,' or seljefløyte as it's known in Norwegian. I have to say, I love this flute. This traditional instrument has no fingerholes and is played using the two harmonic series produced with the tube open or closed. I only have about nine traditional tunes in my repertoire so far - lack of practise time is my biggest obstacle - but I improvise with it and create my own tunes. The willow flute now been incorporated into the Polaris instrumentarium and I occasionally use it in concerts. I own four, in different keys - three by Ånon Egeland, and one by Magnar Storbekken.

I also have a sjøfloyte, or traditional recorder, by Bodil Diesen but my traditional repertoire on that is even smaller. So far. For some wacky Nordic ringtones (thanks to Tellef Kvifte!), go to www.taragot.com.

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“I have spied that secret place from time to time, usually as through a glass darkly, but now and again with blazing clarity. One time it glowed from a red carnation, incandescent in a florist’s window. Once it shimmered in drifting pollen, once in a sky needled with ice. I have seen it wound in a scarf of dust around a whirling pony. I have seen it glinting from a pebble on the slate bed of a creek. I have slipped into the secret place while watching hawks, while staring down the throat of a lily, while brushing my wife’s hair. Metaphors are inexact. The experience is not a glimpsing of realms beyond, nor of becoming someone new, but of acknowledging, briefly and utterly, who I am.”

—Scott Russell Sanders

Alison can be contacted at alison@alisonmelville.com.

Banner photos: Paul Orenstein