Posts Tagged Stephen DeRuby

New Album from Bill Leyden – “In Another World”

Release Notes and More:  “In Another World”

I am happy to announce the release of “In Another World.”  This New Age  album is filled with lush, orchestral melodies, exotic, subtle rhythms and accents made on the Native-American-style flute.  I find the completed collection to be ideal for meditation and healing; I think you will too!

Flute Improvisations (Image: Hugh Milne)

In Taiwan, the 7th lunar month is referred to as ‘Ghost Month.’  My friends from that island-nation advise me:

“…You don’t want to travel during Ghost Month!  You should make offerings to your ancestors and don’t let the ghosts who are roaming the Earth this month learn your address!”

I’m not particularly superstitious, but in the coming years, I may take a little more notice of Ghost Month.

Recent albums by Bill Leyden

I was minding my own business recording improvisations on the Native American-style flute for this album. Then along came the 7th lunar month -July and August this year (2012).

I took a short road trip during which every appointment was suddenly rescheduled out of the month.  I started to think that the Ghost Month advice may have some merits.

When I returned home to Arizona, disappointed by the drop in personal productivity, I attempted to salve the feelings by getting out the Fender Stratocaster guitar and recording some musical passages.  The recordings would eventually find their way onto the “Faded Splendor” track.  I tried adding strings (violin, violas and cellos) — and the whole album shifted. The melodies became more lyrical and complex. One track followed another in quick succession until the album was a collection of compositions, rather than a series of Native American-style flute improvisations.

Passing Through the Portal

When I was done, I knew that I had crossed a threshold (into another musical world) through which I may not return.  Next year, I will be less inclined to ignore Ghost Month and more apt to pass it with a wink and a smile as I compose.

I hope you enjoy the tracks. They will be available for download first on Bandcamp, and later on iTunes and the usual download services, including

Listen to “In Another World” by clicking on the arrow below:

I used flutes from the following craftsman:

Stephen DeRuby

Geoffrey Ellis

J. P. Gomez

Album Credits:

Dedication:  Chris Will
Kitty & Creek Norris

All tracks © 2012 by Bill Leyden.  All rights reserved.

Images:  Damon Allen


Physical CDs:



CD Baby

Amazon mp3


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The Magic of Stephen DeRuby’s Flutes

The EZ Anasazi Flute by Stephen DeRuby in A

“Face the Fire,” ©2011 by Bill Leyden, featuring the EZ-Anasazi flute in A by Stephen DeRuby.

A Flute Journey Begins

“…. We are going on a journey into your deep subconscious … to help us get there, we are going to use a map. It’s your map! But, remember: ‘the map is not the territory!’ It is a representation that we will use as a guide. After all, a map of the moon is not the moon itself!”

Continuing for another 30 minutes, medical anthropologist, Dr. Alberto Villodo guided the meditation using the concept of different rooms in a mysterious world that could unlock the unknown parts of our lives. Toward the end of the guided meditation he said, “The last room is the ‘Room of Gifts.’ Look around. Notice if there is anything there for you. There may be a gift for you to help you integrate what you have learned on this journey into your every day life. Don’t try. Just wait. Whatever is there or not is O.K. ”

That, which for me at the time was an unusual way to spend 30 minutes seems like a lifetime ago. Maybe two lifetimes! I remember looking around in my mind’s eye and saw a lone flute on the ground. I picked it up and brought it back with me, not knowing that my life would be changed in ways I could not have foreseen.

A year later, Dr. Villoldo was introducing Don Francisco, an elder of the Q’ero Nation of Peru (the descendents of the Inca) to the audience. Translating from the ancient Quechua language, Dr. Villoldo told us that Don Francisco had flown on the ‘Iron Bird’ to be with the brothers and sisters to the north – to bring the rites of passage, including the 9th rite: the Creator Rites, which had heretofore never been give by a man to another. These were the rites only given by the mountains of the High Andes to the Q’ero of Peru.

The ceremony is brief. It includes Quechuan blessings, invocations and well-wishes, and concludes with a ritual transfer of the rites from Don Francisco’s breath and medicine bundle.

As participants, we were warned (after a fashion) that things might change in our lives and that it was best to be prepared for anything. For me, this began a period of years of recording with the Native American-style flute that continues to this day. I like to tell myself that these recordings are part of my own life’s healing or part of an aural diary, as it were. But it seems much more than that. The flute has taken me on a path far-removed from the chemical engineering career that I survived onto a new path filled with people – a path of faces and feelings – a path of witnessing people’s lives at different points to-and-from their zenith. These days, instead of picking up the phone to see what the boundary conditions are at a unit in a refinery, I am more likely to speak to a healer, patient, musician or craftsman.

The Flute Makers
The first craftsman I met on this journey was Stephen DeRuby. I was looking for flute lessons and called a man named Golaná. He put me in touch with Stephen. “I use Stephen’s flutes almost exclusively,” he said. “My students use them because of the fact that they are of great quality and are perfectly tuned. Give him a call.”

Stephen DeRuby

My admiration for these artisans of wood is not complete without mentioning John Stillwell, J.P. Gomez and Geoffrey Ellis. But I will return to them at a later time in other posts.

Stephen and I met in Northern California in 2006. I probably came away from that meeting with several flutes. I saw him over a period of three days or so, and each time he would bring something special out of an unmarked box – a one-off flute in an experimental wood or some other one-of-a kind flute. It was hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to from that trip I would say that it was the EZ-Shakuhachi flute with a C diatonic scale. He called it “the Deep Blue ‘C’.” Anyway, it began my love affair with the special fipple that made a magical, breathy sound similar to rim-blown Japanese shakuhachis.

Over the next several years, established Native American-style flute players seemed to be searching for something to distinguish themselves in the marketplace. There was an explosion of rim-blown, exotic-scaled entries into the market. The established players are talented with well-developed embouchures (mouth muscles used for playing a wind instrument), and could easily master the rim-blown instruments. A new-comer like me, on the other hand would be at least a year away from even making a sound on these. But the tones that can be achieved are well worth the effort.

Stephen DeRuby changed all of that. His unique fipple design put the sounds of rim-blown flutes within my grasp, although I hesitated a couple of years before taking the plunge. It was actually my friend, adopted brother and fellow flautist, Wolfs Robe put me over-the-top. He showed up one day with one of Stephen’s EZ-Anasazi flutes. When he played it, I couldn’t believe the sound; I had to have one.

When it arrived in its fleece case, I knew that I was in for a treat. I postponed a trip to LA to take the time to see how it would record. I have attached a couple of tracks that will explain why I postponed the trip. My first recording was called “Face the Fire,” which is the track at the beginning of this piece.

As I got more familiar with the lovely instrument, I became more adventuresome by adding some close harmonies and trills. The result was more that I could have hoped for and can be heard below:

“Talking Stick,” © 2011 by Bill Leyden.  All rights reserved.

Now Stephen has introduced the Kiva flute. I can’t wait to take another plunge!

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On Friends and Flutes (The Story of “Leaving Sedona” on the “Coconino” Album)

Here is the song, “Leaving Sedona” on the “Coconino Album” to listen to as you read, with special thanks to Stephen Deruby for his generosity and for being a mentor. I am playing the Deep Mystic Flute on both ends of the song; Stephen is playing the Mystic Drone flute in the middle.

At the time of this writing (2011),  I attended my first Native American flute festival about six years ago in Northern California. I was asked often, “who’s flute do you play?” I would answer in near-truth, “I don’t, I just like flute players.” I think I was intimidated by so many natural musicians gathered in one place that did not necessarily play the guitar (an instrument on which I can make or fake any pop sound). So in my mind it was better to suggest that I did not play rather than subject a potential listener to the squeaks that I could muster.

One of the first people that I met was master-craftsman and musician, Stephen Deruby — a man who I still call friend and delight in conversing with from time-to-time. I imposed upon Stephen several years ago and asked him to listen to a song that I was working on in which I was using one of his flutes – a “Deep Blue C Mystic,” flute. Before he gave me his sage advice, he admonished me that “friends do not send friends 192Kb/sec mp3’s in the email to review – try something a little smaller.” But then he gave his advice, but so much more: he sent the file back with a track that he added in which he played his “Mystic Drone Flute.” in accompaniment. It was (and is) gorgeous.

Stephen graciously agreed to let me publish the track with his accompaniment in the song – and of course I purchased the flute. The song became “Leaving Sedona” on the “Coconino” Album.

“Coconino” Album Art

Many people claim that area surrounding Sedona, AZ has certain energetic qualities. Everyone is different – I don’t feel anything particularly strange when I enter Sedona, but I always feel like I am passing through some transparent barrier when I am leaving — a barrier that separates Sedona from the rest of the planet. At times I feel a sense of relief that I am returning to what is familiar to me, and sometimes I feel at-once a longing to return to Sedona again. This probably sounds like mumbo-jumbo, but nonetheless I can’t deny that visiting Sedona is a singular experience.

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Bill Leyden Joins Kitty and Creek on Iridium Radio, KZYX&Z

I was thrilled to be an in-studio guest with Kitty & Creek on Iridium Radio.  It was an honor to be with them and share the show with gifted pianist, Helen Jane Long.

Thanks, Kitty and Creek!

Creek Norris Readies KZYX Satellite Studio in Willits, CA for Iridium Radio Broadcast

Listen to this Iridium Radio broadcast:
Part 1:

Part 2:



Here is an excerpt from the show notes:

Broadcaster: KZYX/KZYZ
Show: Iridium
Date: 4/10/2011
Host: Kitty & the Creek
Theme: Two Special Guests!
Notes: Iridium Radio Playlist for Sunday April 10, 2011, as heard on KZYX&Z
Mendocino County Public Broadcasting and streaming live on the web at
http://www.KZYX.orgShow Hosts: Kitty & Creek
Show Theme: Two Special Guests!
Special Guests: Helen Jane Long and Bill Leyden
Show Website: http://www.iridiumradio.comTo introduce Helen Jane Long’s live interview we played the following:
Helen Jane Long – Porcelain – Porcelain [Warner Classics & Jazz]
Helen Jane Long – Broken – Porcelain [Warner Classics & Jazz]
Helen Jane Long – Through the Dark – Porcelain [Warner Classics & Jazz]During the interview we played:
Helen Jane Long – Embers – Embers [BLE Music Group]
Helen Jane Long – One Day – Embers [BLE Music Group]Bill Leyden was live in the studio with us. We started his segment with
Steven De Ruby, as he is now playing one of Steven’s flutes, among many
Steven De Ruby – Revelation – Sacred Spaces [Domo]We continued with selections from Bill Leyden’s albums:
Bill Leyden – Face the Fire – Face The Fire: work in progress [Sage Journey]
Bill Leyden – Accept Me Home – Seeking Balance [Sage Journey]
Bill Leyden – Power Spot – Return to Joshua Tree [Sage Journey]
Bill Leyden – Entering Sedona – Return to Coconino [Sage Journey]
Bill Leyden – Sevgilim, Bana Dom – Return to Coconino [Sage Journey]
Bill Leyden – Celestial Medicine – Celestial Medicine [Sage Journey]The show continued until close, with the following:
Michael Brant DeMaria – Gaia – Gaia

Kitty and Creek were kind enough to invite me to stay at their lovely home in the forest. Before I left to return to Arizona, I had to make an image of them in their world. I decided to try a “Beloved” invitation to allow them to sink into their own experience. The result was the following image, which I find very touching. When I look at it, I am reminded how lucky I am to know these two very special people.

Kitty and Creek Norris

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