Geoffrey Ellis' Blog

I'm a musician, artist, and full-time, professional flute maker. I am also the Administrator of the Flute Portal. My blog will be dedicated to information and announcements that are related to the Flute Portal community and this website.


The Flute Portal has a new owner!

2013 October 11
by Geoffrey Ellis

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this site, I’m finally passing the torch. The Flute Portal has a new owner and it is moving forward into a new phase of growth. I will be “retiring” as the owner/administrator of where to buy viagra online this site.

Jeff Ball and I conceived this site back in the spring of 2006, and with the help of webmaster extraordinaire Jared White we managed to bring a cool idea into solid order cialis online canada reality. Many of you have been here since the beginning and have seen the site grow and change, eventually becoming what it is today. I’m really pleased at what this site has evolved into and I’m very excited to see where it is going to go under new management.

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out a woman in viagra commercial new owner for the site, my ideal was to find someone who was well known in the flute community and who had deep roots within it. I wanted someone who was going to stick around and really take the site in hand and see to it that it continues to grow as a resource. I also wanted to find someone who had a good business head and a vision for what

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the site might become. Luckily, I found just such a person.

I’m cialis aleve interaction pleased to announce that flute maker Brent Haines is the new owner of the Flute Portal and I feel confident that under his ownership the site will experience a new surge of growth and interest. Brent has big plans for the site and we’ve talked a great deal about the future of the Flute Portal and I’m very excited for all of the members. I believe he will be a successful steward and generic cialis will bring a fresh dose of creativity to this community.

The Flute Portal was literally designed to grow. The infrastructure for expansion was built into it, and for a long time I have felt

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that I’ve been neglecting it. My own flute business and personal life has been pulling me in new and different online viagra directions and I’ve known that I don’t have the time or energy to keep the site moving forward. The nature of the internet is such that a website that does not continue to grow and change will eventually become obsolete, and I don’t want that to happen.

Luckily, our “Root Admin” has also agreed to stay on. Jared White canada pharmacy built the Flute Portal and he will continue to lurk behind the scenes to make sure that the technical side of this transition goes smoothly. Thank you Jared!

For myself, I will remain on board in some moderator-like capacity for a period of time in order to ease the transition. I’m also hoping that some of our moderators will agree to stay on within the forums. At times like this a bit of continuity is very nice J

I want to say thank you to all of the members of this cialis over the counter site for seven years of enriching experiences! I’ve made a lot of friends and gotten to know an amazing number of amazing people. It has been a ride!

I’m sure I’ll still drop in from time to time to visit and chat, comfortable in the knowledge that the

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Flute Portal is in good hands and ready to grow.

Many blessings,

Geoffrey

The 2010 “Peoples Choice” songwriting/performing competition!

2010 August 6
by Geoffrey Ellis

We are pleased to announce the launching of the 2010 Flute Portal “Peoples Choice” Songwriting/Performing Competition!

I will explain what “Peoples Choice” means at the end of the guidelines below.

FOR THOSE MEMBERS WHO WOULD LIKE TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS YEARS COMPETITION, PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE POST CAREFULLY.

-You must be a registered member of the Flute Portal forums in order to participate in this contest.

-There will be two categories: Solo flute and Multi-track.

-All entries must be original compositions and must be performed by the entrant.

-Solo flute: Any type of flute, any tuning, reverb and delay permitted, 5 minute time limit. No other background sounds of any kind.

-Multi-instrumental: Any type of flute as the primary melodic instrument. No limit on track count, effects or background instrumentation (including vocalizations, percussion, pads, nature sounds, etc.) Basically the only limit is your creativity–5 minute time limit. The only rule is that the flute must remain the primary melodic instrument throughout the piece.

This year we have much larger time limits because there will be no judges listening to them and we will be able to host them in the Flute Portals new music section for easy listening.

-All submissions must be in MP3 format, preferably with a bit rate of no more than 128KB. This will allow plenty of fidelity and will keep the files from being too huge.

-All submissions may be e-mailed to admin@fluteportal.com.

No submissions or samples of submissions are to be posted anywhere on the internet. They should not be on your MySpace or Facebook page or anywhere on the forums. They cannot be on a CD that you have previously released. They can be songs that you have written in the past, so long as they are not publicly displayed anywhere. Pieces that appeared in last years contest may not be resubmitted.

Each site member is allowed one submission per category (solo and ensemble).

-The deadline for submissions is Nov. 30th, 2010.  UPDATE: NEW DEADLINE IS DECEMBER 7TH, 2010.

-The prize package will be announced before the end of November.

HOW THE CONTEST WILL BE JUDGED: THE PEOPLES CHOICE

This year, we will be having an “open vote” on the forums themselves. All of the entries will be posted anonymously in a special category of the Music section (I will create a special category called “The Peoples Choice Contest” where members can use the flash media player to listen to the numbered entries). Members will cast their “vote” in the forums themselves. There will be a thread started where each member can make a post naming their choice for both the solo and multi-track category.

There will be rules and guidelines for the voting process and any discussion of the pieces is suspended until the voting process is complete.

Members can judge by whatever criteria they choose. Basically, pick your favorite songs.

If any one has any questions or needs clarification, discussion of the contest can be found HERE.

UPDATE:  Here are some pics of the prizes.  Two Black Limba low C NAFs with Black Walnut Bear Claws.

Flute Portal makeover in 2009

2009 May 11
by Geoffrey Ellis

Well, we’re changing the name and we’ve rearranged the Discussion Forums, so you may be asking, “What’s next?”

The next phase of the Flute Portals “upgrade” will focus on the main site.  The front page mirrors our blog site, of course.  Some of you may never have actually clicked the Blog link in the navigation bar at the top of the page, because each new blog appears automatically on the front page of the Flute Portal.   Now the other sections of the site are due for some renovation to increase ease of use and navigation.   The original Flute Portal site was a “shell” of sorts and all of the features were more or less a “beta” version of what we ultimately wanted to have available.  We have slowly been tweaking these features into place, making them what they were originally intended to be.  We added the discussion forum and then the blogs, and we’ve removed some of the features that were the forerunners of these (the Articles section, for one).

On the top of the list of renovations  is the Music Downloads section.  This is a pet project of mine, and while the current feature is a good concept it is not as accessible or easy to use as it should ultimately be.  I’ve got big plans for this section that are going to make it way more interesting and accessible, as well as making it more of a magnet for flute enthusiasts from many different backgrounds.   However, until a “feasibility study” is done (i.e. I talk to the webmaster about what is involved) I can only throw out a vague teaser without any concrete facts…at least not yet :-)

The upshot of this feature upgrade is that it will allow the Flute Portal to draw on a greater user-base of World Flute music enthusiasts, which in turn will expand the site content, thereby making it a more interesting place to visit.

There is definitely a Big Picture behind all of these developments, but I don’t want to lay all the cards on the table at once because I’m not sure whether this grand vision will manifest on my ideal timeline.   But I’ll keep everyone posted as we bring it along.

Some changes to the forums…

2009 May 5
by Geoffrey Ellis

For those members who frequent the discussion forums on this site, you will probably notice a bit of rearranging going on.  In my last blog I spoke about how the site is changing its name from The Native American Flute Portal back to its orignal moniker  The Flute Portal.   The reason for the change was explained at that time, but the tweaking of the site that I spoke of  is just beginning.

In order to accomodate  more diverse content, with an equal emphasis being placed upon World Flutes, I’ve begun recategorizing some of the sections of the forum.  Don’t panic! Nothing essential will be altered–all of the original discussion threads will still be intact.  It might look a bit different at first glance, but if you take a minute to scroll through the list of forums you will find all of the familar landmarks, plus a few new ones!  It may just be a bit odd at times for the next few days.  Already some of you may have noticed certain sections have disappeared, only to reappear within the hour in a different place.  Just trying to keep you all on your toes :-)

It is my belief (as I remarked in the previous blog) that this expansion will ultimately bring a sort of “hybrid vigor” to the site, enlivening it with lots of interesting cross-over content.    There are some cool new features in the works for the coming year, and we are seeking out some special folks to join the roster of our blog authors, so stay tuned!

The Native American Flute Portal changes its name.

2009 April 29
by Geoffrey Ellis

Jeff Ball and I were talking today, discussing the Flute Portal among other things, and we were reflecting on how we used to talk about it as a concept,  how that concept took form and actually became something concrete.  The idea of what this site was supposed to be evolved a great deal before it was launched in the Fall of 2006, and that concept has kept changing.

An interesting aspect of this evolution was the name of the site.  We ended up calling it The Native American Flute Portal, but this was not the original name–it was originally called The Flute Portal.  That is why the domain name is www.fluteportal.com–it is a broader, more inclusive name.  On a personal level, I wanted to attract people from all walks of life and from various background who shared a common interest: the flute.  Not just the North American block flute, but all kinds of flutes from all around the world.

The decision to change the name to the Native American Flute Portal had more to do with gravity.  We were both deeply involved in the world of the NAF and it seemed sensible at the time to use that as a point of departure because for a fledgling website to grow wings, it needed to be fed.  The food for this site was the participation of the members, so it seemed logical to interest the people who we knew best: NAF enthusiasts.

To our delight, the site became a focal point for many people in the NAF community, and this was accentuated by the addition of the discussion forums.  Now the site was dynamic and alive!  Over the last 16 months it has grown significantly, and the diversity of the membership has grown with it.

As the Administrator of the site, there has been a challenging aspect to accommodating this growth, namely: How best to serve the needs of the community and continue to be true to the vision of what we wanted the site to become?  This has proven to be trickier than I thought it would be and the site has experienced some growing pains along the way.

One of the most significant changes that has come about recently is that in pursuit of my Admin duties I have found myself walking a philosophical tightrope on a few occasions regarding issues related to the native peoples of this country.  I suppose it is inevitable that if you have a website called The Native American Flute Portal, then you are creating the space for interpretation of that name.  Where does one place the emphasis?  Is it The Native American Flute Portal?  or The Native American Flute Portal?

From the beginning, this site was meant to be about flutes.  Flute music, flute playing, flute making.  As has been mentioned in numerous threads in the forums, one cannot really talk about an instrument without some talk about it’s history or even it’s etymology, but where does one draw the line?  Lately I’ve been having  more Admin work that is related to keeping the site “topical” (i.e. focused on the original subject of the site: the flute).  Perhaps this is inevitable given the name of this site and given the natural tastes and inclinations of many of the members as a result of their common interest in native music, culture, history, etc..

The other inevitable aspect of this interest is that the many facets of this history are opened for examination, and as any student of history knows this can be a journey into dark places.  The history of this country is pretty bloody–most thinking people recognize that– and a lot of that blood is native blood.  So when the NAF is being discussed, for many people it is impossible to separate it from this history for the purpose of the discussion.     While this is totally understandable, it also creates a serious dilemma for me as the Administrator.  Experience has taught me that the public forums that are nice places to be (and I’ve looked around at other forums on the internet–I belong to several others) stay away from politics and religion.     Much of the history of this country as it relates to the native peoples is a history of politics.  It is not a pretty history and some of the politics were of the worst type practiced by humans.   This political history is a deeply sensitive subject for many people, both native and non-native, and just like any strongly held conviction, it can be the breeding ground for strife.

Nothing gets people rattled like talking politics and religion with someone whose beliefs do not harmonize with their own.  This reaction can be the catalyst for resentment, negativity and (in extreme cases) insults or disrespect.  It is not a given that this is where it always leads, but the potential is there and that is the rationale behind forbidding subject matter that can be interpreted as political or religious.

Therein lies the dilemma.  For a number of the members of this site, talking about the NAF without talking about the darker aspects of its history doesn’t make sense.  They cannot comfortably imagine a thing taken out of it’s context like that.  I understand them and I don’t blame them.  But at the same time, the creation and maintenance of a special interest forum (such as a site dedicated to flutes) does not allow for that sort of content–content that can be a trailhead to a further discussion of politics, current policy or past grievances.  For the site to maintain a comfortable temperature for all participants it is necessary to moderate the atmosphere a bit.  For some this will mean that the site is insipid or boring–not providing enough scope or interest.  I have yet to figure out a way to both allow total freedom of discussion and to avoid alienating too many members by allowing the conditions that can lead to volatile discussions.

This dilemma is what lead me full circle to a contemplation of the origin of this website and what it’s original intent was.  By naming it the Native American Flute Portal, we inadvertently weakened the foundation of our original intent by narrowing the site.  Not only did we narrow it’s content, we did so with a title that carries a lot of different meaning to different people.  Calling a site “Native American” anything creates a premise– cuts a groove for that concept to run in.  It can be a pathway to something we all love and simultaneously be a sunken road with no side turnings.  Not because it is about the Native American flute, but because the name seems to indicate that this is all it is about.

That is why we are changing the name back to the original–we are going to rename the site The Flute Portal. Does this mean that it is no longer about the NAF?  Of course not!  Most of the people on this site favor the NAF as their primary interest–it is why they are here in the first place.  But from watching the forums for more than a year, it became very clear to me that many of the members (possibly most of them) have cross-over interest in other flutes and woodwinds as well as drums, etc..  Making more room for that and encouraging members to branch out into these other areas seems more in tune with our original mission.  Further, the more inclusive the site is, the more likely it is to bring that same cross-over interest from members of other “flute communities” (Shakuhachi players, Silver Flute players, Irish Flute, Fujara, Quena, Ney, Xiao, Dizi, Bansuri, etc., etc,.).  These other instruments have their enthusiasts, many of whom would be enchanted by the Native American flute and who may never have seen or heard of one.  They may come to The Flute Portal because of their particular interest and find that they have stumbled across a treasure trove of other musical opportunities.

I don’t imagine that by renaming the site we will suddenly manifest a population of World Flute enthusiasts (beyond those that are already here, of course) nor do I imagine that the bulk of the content of the site will suddenly stop being NAF related.  I don’t expect that sort of thing to change, nor would I want it to.

Rather, what I would hope to achieve is a spaciousness–an openness that would allow it to be something more.  At the same time changing the name brings the emphasis back onto the word “flute”.  That was the core of our original intent.  Speaking for myself, I love Native American music, I honor the diverse culture that birthed this particular flute and I hope and expect all of the people here who love this instrument will continue to carry the torch.  No one needs to change their special relationship to this instrument.  But I do want to clarify what this site can be and cannot be.  I’ve long since learned that there is absolutely no way to please everyone, or meet their individual needs in the context of a site like this.  I’ve spent a lot of time trying to balance it all and I’ve come to realize that some limits must exist.  From a practical standpoint, the more open a site is in terms of content, the more Moderator and Admin participation is required, and we just don’t have resources for it.  Thankfully, this site is populated by sensitive and considerate people, so that the amount of Moderator involvement is already below average.

As far as how this change will impact the structure of the site, well…it won’t be much.  I’ll be adding some new forums and consolidating some others.  Regardless of  the changes that appear I want to reassure everyone that they will be changes of structure and not of substance.  The site will not suddenly become different or foreign–many of the alterations might not even be readily apparent if they are not pointed out.  I won’t be doing anything that will compromise the existing content or make it more difficult to navigate.  It may take a bit to actually change the site header, but it will happen before too much time has passed.

So hopefully most of the membership will understand the reasoning behind this change.  It will ideally be a milestone in the continued development of this website and encourage positive growth.  The addition of the blogs was another step in opening up the site to more varied content.  Being joined by World Flautists like Gary Stroutsos (and we hope to add to this roster) is a positive step in that direction.

So hang on to all of those t-shirts–they will soon be collectible!

The 2009 Flute Portal Songwriting/Performance Competition

2009 April 25
by Geoffrey Ellis

We would like to announce the launching of the 2009 Flute Portal Songwriting/Performing Competition!

FOR THOSE MEMBERS WHO WOULD LIKE TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS YEARS COMPETITION, PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE BLOG ENTRY CAREFULLY.

-You must be a registered member of the Flute Portal in order to participate in this contest.

-There will be two categories: Solo flute and Ensemble.

-All entries must be original compositions and must be performed by the entrant.

-Solo flute: Any type of NAF, any tuning, reverb and delay permitted, 2 minute time limit. No dry tracks required, though you may submit them dry if you like. No other background sounds of any kind.

-Multi-instrumental: Any type of NAF as primary melodic instrument.   No limit on track count, effects or background instrumentation. Ensembles welcome, as well as individuals who are multi-tracking. 2 1/2 minute time limit.

The time limits are needed because we are likely to get a lot of submissions, and the judges might end up listening to 20 or 30 different songs. We want them to be sane at the end of it!

-All submissions must be in MP3 format, preferably with a bit rate of no more than 128KB.   This will allow plenty of fidelity and will keep the files from being too huge.

-All submissions may be e-mailed to admin@fluteportal.com

No submissions or samples of submissions are to be posted anywhere on the internet.  They should not be on your MySpace page or anywhere on the forums.  They cannot be on a CD that you have previously released.    They can be songs that you have written in the past, so long as they are not publicly displayed anywhere.  Pieces that appeared in last years contest may not be resubmitted.

The songs will be evaluated by a panel of judges (to be announced) made up of professional musicians and performers.  The judges will be evaluating the songs by the following criteria:

-Originality
-Composition (melodic and rhythmic structure)
-Execution

The Ensemble pieces will also be judged on the arrangement of the piece and, to a lesser degree, the mixing of the piece (levels, effects and how the piece is blended as a whole).

Each site member is allowed one submission per category (solo and ensemble).  A member may not appear in more than one ensemble piece (as a member of different groups).

-The deadline for submissions is July 31st, 2009.

-The prize package will be announced before the end of May.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments!

The NAFP Blogs are here!

2009 March 18
by Geoffrey Ellis

Finally! After much fanfare (and a few ups and downs) we have arrived. The NAFP Blogs are online and will soon be bringing you a stream of useful and interesting “flute stuff”!

There may still be the odd hiccup as we get these running smoothly, but hopefully they will be adding another dynamic dimension to the NAFP site.

So please dig in! Those of you who have an RSS newsreader, feel free to hook up so that you’ll hear about blog updates as they occur.