Instrument-a-week (7): Water Flute

Posted by on Apr 20, 2014 in Instrument-a-week, Music, News

Water Flute

Difficulty: 4 of 5

Attention: Assistance of an adult is required when cutting hard plastic tubes and preparing a hardwood plug!


  • 5 PVC sewer tubes, 40mm diameter and 30 cm in length (different number of tubes can be used; it is important to set them in a closed geometrical shape with elbows – 4, 5, 8, 12 or 24 sided shape can be built),
  • 5  elbows for PVC pipes, 72˚ and 40 mm  diameter (we can use different number of elbows, but the sum of angles should be 360˚),
  • crown drill , 41 mm  diameter,
  • a piece of any hardwood board (birch, …..), appr. 20-25 mm thick,
  • fine Dremel tool or a drill for square holes (optional)
  • a sharp utility knife,
  • a small narrow file,
  • sandpaper.



  1. Cut a square opening  10 x 10 mm in the middle of one of the tubes. The plastic is hard to cut, so pay attention! The easiest way to cut the opening is by a a Dremel Tool or by a drill for square holes.
  2. File the one side of the opening, which is perpendicular to the tube’s axis, to 20˚ angle to the surface of the tube.  Pay attention that the edge is smooth and sharp. Instrumen-a-week (7): Water flute Photo: Peter Kus
  3. Use the crown drill to cut a round wooden plug from the board. Flatten and sand off appr. 3 mm of its round surface. Instrumen-a-week (7): Water flute Photo: Peter Kus
  4. With the flattened side upwards, push the plug into the tube, all the way to the square opening. Align the plug with the square edge opening which is opposite to the angled one. If you look through the pipe, you can see a small gap between the tube`s wall  and the plug. You have constructed the ”mouthpiece” of the water flute! Instrumen-a-week (7): Water flute Photo: Peter Kus
  5. Assemble other tubes with elbows to into a multi-sided geometrical shape. Pour approximately one liter of water in the tubes just before closing the last elbow.Instrumen-a-week (7): Water flute Photo: Peter Kus

Water flute is played by tilting the tube-shape back and forth. Tilting moves the water inside, which pushes  the trapped air  column back and forth across the “mouthpiece”. The flute whistles; the pitch is changed according to the speed of titling or the speed of the air flow across the mouthpiece. The pitch of the tone depends also on the length and diameter of the pipes. The water flute is an aerophone, which works like ordinary whistle.

 © 2014 Peter Kus



(1) Membranophone
(2) Fruit-box Kalimba
(3) Moped
(4) Cardboard Tubophone
(5) Bird Whistle
(6) Froggy