Water from the Hungry Eye
I needed some tunes to play around with. Naturally, they had to have the kind of range that I was proposing, and they had to be capable of being played on instruments as simple as the bird-bone flutes found in various French caves. I lit upon "Soratha", a Nepali tune used as a rain invocation - not quite a cave, but at least the kind of music under consideration. I remembered it from one of the tourist folk-evenings at the "Hungry Eye" in Pokhara, and actually found it on my tape recording. I'm indebted to my sister for sending me this Nepali notation by Mr. Vijay Kumar Sunam:
Hastily firing up my copy of Dave Webber's excellent "Mozart", I typed it in and you can hear the basic tune as a midi file by clicking on the notation. What I had in mind was to split the music into two parts, high and low, five distinct notes in each part, played alternately, the same way as French Bombarde players play their tunes. Breaking the tune at each c-natural note-pair worked reasonably, but he last section was too long, so by moving another suitable pair onto the c-natural, I managed to generate phrases of reasonable length. The tune still sounds the same, as you can hear by clicking on the picture of the "horn" - I've set the file with a basic drum part for the rhythm and two different voices for the two "halves" of the music.
Of course, no plan survives contact with reality. I wanted to make a real instrument to experiment with resonances, since it's easy to sit with a computer and simulate things that can't be done in real life. 22mm PVC plumbing pipe is ideal for this (any DIY shop in the UK will sell it, and I assume that a similar product is available in the US and elsewhere). You can annoy a lot of neighbours with only a few pounds' worth. Cut off a piece about fourteen inches long, smooth the cut ends, and blow the end with an embouchure: you should find that it makes a sound much like those ceremonial conches that everyone all over the Pacific Rim uses. To find a resonant frequency for a room, start with one that's over-length and keep cutting small bits off until it resonates. You can now make holes in it to generate extra notes. Sadly, however, I could only manage about three notes. I know that the tune could be played on small flutes, such as the Neolithic ones made of bird-bones and found in various caves. But I can't play cross-blown flute and I couldn't get a fipple on an end-blown one made of PVC.This wouldn't, of course, have been a limitation for the original flute-makers, so the basic reasoning may not have been too fanciful, but for me, it posed a real problem. I quite liked the sound of fourteen inches of PVC pipe, so it was necessary to find some tunes which would work.