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Panpipes

If you're interested in building a pan flute, or a set of pan pipes, this is the page for you!  It includes: 1) Virtual Panpipes you can play right now on your computer; 2) directions on how to build a 5-note set of panpipes; and 3) information on building and playing an 8-note set of panpipes. So take a couple of minutes, play the virtual panpipes, learn how to make your instrument, and discover all of the great songs your homemade panpipes can play.

Virtual Panpipes

 
Our Virtual Panpipes play the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th notes of the Major Scale. It's called the Pentatonic Scale (see below). To hear melodies based on the Pentatonic Scale, see the video on the right, My Five Favorite Fractions.

As you will hear, the longer the pipe, the lower the pitch the shorter the pipe, the higher the pitch.  

Start by clicking your mouse on each pipe (below). Then, choose a song and start playing. 
Playing tip: If you hold down your mouse, the notes will last longer. If you would like to make this instrument, just follow the directions below.

Choose a Song to Play

Building a 5-note set of Panpipes

Begin by getting approximately 2 feet of 1/2-inch/schedule-40 PVC sprinkler pipe.

  Inches Centimeters  
C 6 1/16 15.4 1
D 5 3/8 13.6 2
E 4 3/4 12.0 3
G 3 15/16 9.8 5
A 3 7/16 8.7 6

1) Cut the tubing into the five sections listed on the left.

2) Place a penny over one end of each pipe and cover each penny with a 2" X 2" square piece of duct tape.

3) Wrap about 18 inches of duct tape around the set as shown on the right. Blow across the top of each pipe it's just like blowing on a soda bottle.

If you would like to build an 8-note set that plays many more songs, see below.

 

Building an 8-note set of Panpipes

Phil and his daughter, Sarah, have created a special resource on building and playing panpipes that includes step-by-step instructions. Just like our water bottle xylophone, glockenspiel, fraction tubes, melodic tube drums, and didgeritubes, our panpipes are tuned to play an 8-note scale in the key of C.

Building instructions are at Panpipes.pdf.  In case you'd like to build a larger set, the instructions also include an addendum for Science Olympiad, detailing the measurements for a fully chromatic 27-note set.

For sheet music written in treble clef, and play-along music tracks, check out Phil's Music for Homemade Instruments page.

 

 

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