Kaval ~ Ancient Transylvanian Flute

Moldavian Kavals by Winne Clement
Moldavian Kavals by Winne Clement
Imagine yourself strolling through a beautiful forest, a canopy of trees and grasses, a myriad of flowers all around and just up ahead, a clearing where a river flows down into a deep pool.

As you approach the water you hear a flute playing. The music is coming from the hillside beyond. You decide to sit a while and listen to the sweet harmonics which echo throughout the landscape.

Then, as a wild Deer wanders into sight across the pond and casts its gaze upon you, a falling rock crashes into the water. The Deer is startled but doesn’t move. For the Deer has heard the music too. And the Deer knows this song.

This is the song of the wilderness.

The Moldavian Kaval is perhaps one of the most powerfully startling flutes in the world. At first its voice, sweet and sonorous, innocent and fragile… yet thence in spirit, becomes the thunder, the rain and the mighty rumbling of the mountains.

For this flute, believed to originate in Transylvania many hundreds of years ago, is a flute with many transcendental voices.

The Soul Of The Kaval

The Moldavian Kaval is an end blown fipple flute, featuring five finger holes, each layed out to compose a founding Transylvanian scale.

Unlike the Western Tin Whistle or Recorder, the Kaval’s fipple is reversed to the opposite side, facing the flautist. This underside placement of the fipple allows the flautist to apply a lower lip embouchure unto the fipple chamber.

Behold, for whence this lower lip embouchure is applied, the once sweet and innocent melodies become the mighty calling of the wilderness and the sacred poetry of dragons. A new voice is born… a voice like thunder.

Indeed the holy unique character of the Moldavian Kaval is its ability to change its voice in the most diversely profound ways.

The flute’s founding key is tied to effectively a minor scale with a sharpened 4th and flattened 7th. Yet this unusual, almost prehistoric characteristic is far from primitive.

Whence the lower lip is applied, an incredible control over the flute’s voice is granted directly to the player. This control allows the player to perform melodic phrases which would otherwise seem impossible on an end blown fipple flute.

Moldavian Kaval by Winne Clement
Moldavian Kaval
The five uniquely tuned holes and reversed fipple embouchure produce a mesmerizing harmonic scale.
The lower lip actually prevents the flute jumping an octave prematurely, allowing for far greater volume.

Variations in lip placement and breathing allow many profound textures of a second ‘thundery’ voice to this instrument.

Indeed the Kaval itself is born of the ‘overtone flute’ and as such is naturally gifted to harmonics. Whence the lower lip is applied, these harmonics become so incredibly rich in timbre that even several overtones can be played at once!

Furthermore the invoking of all these traits whilst adventuring with creative cross fingerings enables a whole universe of otherworldly harmonies.

Winne Clement is a master flutemaker from Belgium. He is a wonderful man who engages his gift of music through not only performance, but education, discussion and creative workshops, with all kinds of people, both young and old.

His craftmanship is exceptionally professional and his flutes are amongst the most beautiful creations I have ever known.

Max Brumberg from Slovakia, is likewise a master flutemaker, who has also an exceptionally profound gift of musical creativity. Furthermore he is a most talented and accomplished artist who’s repertoire of harmonic overtone compositions ignite a wondrous magic within.

His music, incorporating Didgeridoo, Fujara, Overtone and Kaval is available worldwide.

Winne Clement ~ Flutemaker : Kaval
Max Brumberg ~ Flutemaker : Kaval
Wikipedia ~ Kaval

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5 thoughts on “Kaval ~ Ancient Transylvanian Flute

    1. I guess the big one isn’t likely to make a blog post, partly because other than its size there’s not a great deal of novelty and also because I’ve never played one. However, here is a video of it being played on stage.


    1. Oh yes, they are infinite in number and sometimes also in size. There are flutes so huge that a person either end must hold it whilst the flautist plays. I might cover that one in due time. Thanks for popping by. Regards, Simon.


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