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Playing the pan pipes

Updated on September 19, 2014

All about getting started playing the pan pipes.

Ever wanted to know how to create the soothing sounds of the pan pipes? Ever since I first heard the deep earthy tones of this amazing yet simple instrument I have been fascinated with learning to play. In this lens (that's me on the left) I will share my experience and hopefully it will be an encouragement for you to get started playing some music of your own. Enjoy!

First a little pan pipe anatomy and history.

The pan pipes (or pan flute) was one of the earliest musical instruments and one of the simplest to play.

They are commonly made from reeds, bamboo or wood as well as plastic and even glass.

The general name pan pipes was derived from Greek mythology (the god Pan) although the instrument is found in many different countries and has other names such as the Sampona.

Perhaps the most common pan flute music comes from the South American Andes and the Celtic areas.

Below are the names of pan pipes from around the world:

Antara (Andes)

Paixiao (China)

Wot (Laos and Thailand)

Nai (Romania, Moldova). nai is also the Romanian word for the Middle Eastern reed flute ney.

So (Korea)


Zampoña (Andes)

Kuvytsi, Svyryli, Rebro, Nai (Ukraine)

All are played in a similar way - that is by blowing across each tube of the instrument using your lips to direct a stream of air across and slightly down to create the note. In some ways it is just like blowing across the top of a bottle like most of us did as a kid.

How to play the panpipes

Great Pan Pipe Stuff on Amazon

A collection of pan pipes including the South American zampona and Antara.

Most of these are crafted from bamboo to give that deep woody, earthy tone which many people love.

You can pick up a set of pipes from around $20 which makes getting started very affordable.

Professional Antara Pan Flaute Blass 22 Pipes Case Included
Professional Antara Pan Flaute Blass 22 Pipes Case Included

As you develop your skill or really want to go professional, you may want to invest in a really nice instrument such as this one which is beautifully finished and will last for years if you look after it.


Getting that great sound from your Pan flute.

The best tip I can give you is to use your mouth and lips to direct the air properly and don't use up all your air (so you don't end up light headed).

Practice and it will pay dividends.

Once you have confidence you may want to use a mic and a little delay effect to give a fuller more ambient sound.

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