In the Dallas Morning News interview, Garman Harbottle was for once upstaged...
First, one has to make it in a rightful way. But I knew that this flute was an end-blown, vertical, so this gave me a slight advantage over previous attempts. I took the flute jpeg and my drawings down to a somewhat surprised Simon Broadrib, purveyor of fine meats to my local area and sausage-maker extraordinaire. I came away with an estimate of the likely internal diameter of the wing-bone based on the cracked one in the Nature picture, together with half a dozen pork and champagne sausages. Curses. Crane-bones don't come in standard metric sizes.
The PVC version (sidebar, left) actually plays notes, despite the difficulty of getting a decent fipple on it and my lack of technique. I now know what tools would be necessary to make a better one. Since, in the UK at least, bones aren't available in the right sizes, I have two options in mind. Either making bells in P38 which sit on the end of the tube like a recorder mouthpiece and will take a proper fipple, or using resin impregnated softwood, formed cold on a shaped mandrel. If I get that far, I'll post the results.
Now, all I needed was the music. With the aid of Mozart and the M282:20 spreadsheet, this was a doddle. There are actually at least three sensible mappings of the dragon tune to the M:282:20 scale, so I chose the one which sounded (to me, at least) most like "The Little Cabbage", the folk tune on the MP3 on the Nature site. It looks like this (although you must bear in mind that the notes in the scale are sharper or flatter by up to 15Hz)
Quotes on prehistoric "music" in the wake of the Jiahu Flute paper also suggested drumming at two beats per second. I'm not ure where that came from, but I've seen it quoted in cognitive archæology papers so I assume that there's a basis for it somewhere - certainly no-one argues about it as much as they do about inbuilt preselection for diatonic scales. I assume that once again the commentators for Fox et al picked up the cognitive archæology material as filler, or werepointed to it by some of the people speaking to the AAAS. It's always dangerous to do things like scaling from the Portel map, but it's fun to speculate and this isn't a paper for a musicological conference, so why not? The resonance lists in the original "grottes ornées" paper sort of allow one to plot sets of circles for the various resonances and then scale the cave-wall distances.
When the folks at the ISVR have stopped wincing, I'm playing here, no more. But anyway, it does look as though drumming at the 2Hz range would produce some interesting results at the red spot, bouncing off the cloister. Drumming in a cave always produces weird results, but these may be seriously weird. Anyway, at that point I heard a Radio 4 piece on early man which included someone playing stalactites in another French cave - the cave-dwellers had marked the best ones with red spots. I decided to just take it as a given: I'd already used a percussion beat to emphasise the structure of Soratha for the people I showed it to, and I kind of liked it.
Adding the new stuff - beats at 2 per second and putting the rattle in, as well as adjusting to a flute voice for the midi, gives the result you can hear by clicking on the piccie of the flute. Not in the same class as the recording from the Nature site, but good enough. I think now all we need is to see whether or not it works, huh? Anyone got a handy cave? And, preferably, some ladies who want to be charmed?