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FAQ about:
Koncovka (overtone flute)

The Slovak word koniec means "a close" and the word koncovka means "termination" or "end."


What is actually a Koncovka ?

Koncovka is an "Overtone flute". It is a duct or fipple flute, also called "End flute”, because it doesn't have any side holes, and the technique of playing involves closing, and opening the end of the flute with a finger.

Are overtone flutes available only in Slovakia ?

Overtone flutes can be found in many countries throughout the globe, although in many cultures this flute is no longer produced and played. The only other known folk overtone flute is Norwegian seljefloyte or the willow flute.
On the other hand in Slovakia, koncovka is widely popular and crafted already for centuries. Thus, it is true to say that in Slovakia you can find the best quality overtone fipple flutes (Koncovkas) available.

On contrary, unique Fujara flute can be found nowhere else but in Slovakia.

How is the koncovka made ?

Koncovka is fashioned from a single piece of upland elder tree, bored out and plugged at one end where the fipple sound device is created. The bore is cylindrical. Intricate carving or coloring may be added to individualize the instrument.

How is the koncovka (overtone flute) played ?

Playing koncovka is very simple. Instead of using finger holes, you get the different tones when you vary the blowing pressure. What you do is that you alternately open and close the lower end while you play. The flute can give some 16 different tones when you blow it with different strengths, and even when you blow very slowly it´s possible to get some different tones. And you can get still further effects when you half-cover the same end, which lowers the "open" tones somewhat. After a little practicing you can play a very varied music.

What are the Koncovka's keys and lengths ?

Koncovka key is corresponding with its length: the longer the koncovka is, the deeper is its base note tuning:

Key - length in cm (inches)

  • G - 86 cm (34")
  • A - 72 cm (28")
  • H - 66 cm (26")
  • C - 63 cm (25")
  • D - 58 cm (23")
  • E - 54 cm (21")
  • F - 48 cm (19")
  • G - 44 cm (17")

I am not so tall, can I reach the length of the longest Koncovkas ( G or A key ) ?

Yes, with smaller hands it can be problem to play the longest koncovkas. Just stretch your hand and measure the length from your mouth to your fingertips. Distract from this length 5 cm (2") and you will get the length of the longest koncovka you can play comfortably. Now compare the result with the available koncovka keys.

What is the Koncovka's (overtone flute's) scale ?

The flute has two scales, that you can mix. You get one scale when you blow it with the lower end open, and another when you totally cover the lower end with your fingers. When you combine these two scales, you get around 16 different tones to use playing.

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.

Sample scale for the G key koncovka
( overtone flute's scale )

The following pairs of tones are played both at the same air pressure level,
( ) means closed hole, followed by the note at same level with open hole.:

low G Koncovka: (D)G (B)D (F)G (A)B (C#)D (E)F (F#)G (G#)A ... (higher tones are hard to play)

  • So at first pair (D)G the distance is 5 half steps,
  • second is 3 half steps,
  • next two are 2 half steps apart,
  • next four are 1 half step apart.

From F - up there is sort of diatonic scale, changing into chromatic from E - up.
Not bad for a flute with no side holes!

The length of an overtone flute is greater, than for a regular flute of the same pitch and bore, therefore the low G is not usable, but the higher overtones play much clearer and easier, than they would on the regular flute with all holes taped close.

Fujara is basically a very large overtone flute, with additional 3 side holes, has the same basic overtone scale (the tones without the parenthesis), and additional tones are gained by opening the 3 tactual holes.

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