Contact Alison


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


“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

Banner photos: Paul Orenstein