Nicholas Gunn
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Written by Don Slepian   
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Nicholas Gunn
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 Tell us about your work with alternative flutes and alternative techniques on the western flute.

 Nicholas: I studied primarily on the concert flute, so most of the time I use this flute in lead lines as it has the most range and versatility.  On “Beyond Grand Canyon” there are clay flutes, bamboo flutes, penny whistles, Native American flutes, pan pipes, and other unique bamboo flutes that are custom made without specific name or origin.  My embouchure, I have been told, is unique.  I actually play really hard and deliver a tremendous amount of volume, which is not so great when you  are stuck in a small room with me, however for recording and live performance, its great! One technique that I have learned to use on the concert flute is slurring (rolling, crying) between notes.  This is common on a Native American flute but not on a concert flute. Since a play on a French key system (open holes) I can release the air slowly between notes and effectively cry the note, pretty fast too – I have become quite good at this approach over the years! 

There is this big bamboo flute I play on from an unnamed maker that is exceptional sounding.  It is pitched in D minor and has a really exotic, warm fuzzy feeling type sound.  Most of the other unconventional flutes I play on are not chromatic, and are limited to its intended pitch or single scale, but are still considered western in origin.  When I use a flute such as this on a recording, I tend not to base the piece on the flute, but rather than use notes from the flute that work within the piece. This sometimes creates a choice of notes that make the flute sound non western or exotic, but if the flute were to play its full range of notes, it would fit perfectly into a certain scale and would be considered a western sounding instrument – it’s all based on perception and choices. I actually have few flutes, if any, that are considered non western with the exception of the tin whistle!

Where do you see your work headed in the future?

What directions interest you the most?

How might people who enjoy your work help support and preserve the nature that your work celebrates?

 Nicholas: I have been very fortunate and successful in writing music about nature and will continue this, but will be involved in more experimental type works that are not limited to World or New Age genres - it’s a very broad future. My goal is to simply inspire and motivate through music.  I have never considered myself a preservationist or anything like that, just a musician that makes folks feel good about life. 

I hope in turn it opens doors to the beauty all around us, not only in nature, but in life itself.  To think I am anything other than a positive message through music would be potentially self serving and without true cause.  My label, Gemini Sun Records, has a motto - “Music that illuminates your life…” it’s that simple for me!

Don Slepian
About the author:

Don Slepian is an internationally known electronic musician, recording artist, and concert performer. Described by Rolling Stone magazine as "one of the genre's major talents", Slepian's live electronic concerts have been sponsored by radio stations, scientific groups, computer societies and universities.


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