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What is Koncovka?

The koncovka is a traditional flute played throughout the Carpathian Mountain region of Slovakia. Like the fujara, shepherd pipe, and double shepherd pipe, it is a duct or fipple flute fashioned from a single piece of wood, bored out and plugged at one end. It is end blown, has no finger holes and is two to three feet in length. Its ease of tone production, simple construction, and durability make it a favorite instrument of shepherds.

Instead of using finger holes, you get the different tones when you vary the blowing pressure while opening and closing the bottom end of the flute. The tones are from the so called natural harmonic scale.

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The Slovak word koniec means "a close" and the word koncovka means "termination" or "end." The player opens and closes the far end of the tube while playing in the upper harmonics to create melodies. The long, narrow dimensions of the air column make the harmonics easily accessible, using changes in the air speed. The player has access to the notes of the open tube harmonic series, as well as the closed tube harmonic series and various shadings of pitch created by partially covering the end.

Opening and closing, or half closing the end of the flute while playing in the upper harmonics makes it possible to create complete diatonic or chromatic scales. Sections of the Lydian scale are commonly used in koncovka melodies.

As a shepherd's flute, the koncovka is capable of intimacy of expression typical of the meditations of a lone shepherd. Players will intersperse instrumental and sung verses in the Slovak tradition. The koncovka also is played in Slovak dance music ensembles. It is very agile and capable of complex ornamentation for Slovak dance tunes.

Slovak Name: Koncovka, read [kontsovka], means termination or ending.
Common Misspellings: konkovka, konsovka, kontsovka, kontschovka, kontschofka.

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