Pan pipes and their close relatives are among the oldest types of musical instruments known in the world. Their structure is simple: a series of tubes, open on one end, closed on another, generally strung together with some sort of bent reed or twine. To play them, the musician simply blows smoothly across the open end of the tube, achieving the same sonic effect as you'd get if you blew across the top of an open soda bottle. The larger the pipe, the deeper the tone. They are traditionally made of reeds or other naturally-occurring hollow tubes (bamboo, for example), though they can also be carved from wood, and in the modern world synthetic versions are, of course, available.
Pan pipes have been found in many cultures. They take their common name, of course, from the goat-footed Greek god Pan. They are also found in indigenous South American tribal music, particularly in the Andes Mountains, as well as in Asia and Central Europe. Pan pipes are still an important instrument in the traditional genres of music in all of these regions, and they've made their mark on contemporary world fusion and new age music, as well.
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