I am trying to buy a very specific fife.
April 5, 2016 5:46 PM   Subscribe

I was listening to the song Monkey by Harry Belafonte. For a variety of reasons I need to get a fife like the one being played at the start of that song. Mainly for playing while I prance around my house. It is major keyed and very high pitched. Please help me find this fife. I'm ready to purchase this instrument and spend the rest of my life mastering it.

I think it's a "Pife Nordestino". I got this from the wikipedia page on fifes. I searched the records on the Belafonte album and the fifer was just a member of the steel drum band (no help there).

I've been looking at online fife shops and they sell "Brazilian" and "calypso" fifes but they are all too low. I want something in the stratosphere - like on the Monkey song. "Pife for sale" gets me nowhere.
I also found this video, which I think features the fife I need.
posted by Baby_Balrog to Shopping (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There's a South African instrument called a Kwela that sounds pretty close. YouTube Kwela playlist

Also, I know an older Jamaican who would probably call that a "reed flute", not a fife... just another couple terms to search with- maybe also "bamboo flute" although that leads to a lot of yoga class instrumental tracks.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:01 PM on April 5, 2016

I'm pretty sure it's a pennywhistle. It's much easier to play than the fife. It's typical to South African music and to some Caribbean music too.
posted by Jode at 7:30 PM on April 5, 2016

Pennywhistles in the keys of F and G are small and high.
posted by Jode at 7:36 PM on April 5, 2016

There's a South African instrument called a Kwela that sounds pretty close.
Yup - 'Monkey' reminded me of some of the Kwela music make by Lemmy Mabaso and Spokes Mashiyane - all back in the 1950s. The instrument that Mike Bosco is playing to get the Kwela sound in pseudostrabismus' link, is a Bb Hohner whistle -not made since the 1970s. The Shaw penny whistle demonstrated here might be a close contemporary alternative.
posted by rongorongo at 11:56 PM on April 5, 2016

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