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Christmas with the Baltimore Consort

Chris Norman, fife

Similar to a small cylindrical transverse flute, the fife has a narrower interior tube, or bore, which gives the instrument a shriller sound than the flute. Generally crafted from a single piece of wood, the fife has six finger-holes, is often supplied with one or more keys, and sometimes, ferrules of brass or other metal at both ends. The instrument was played for foot soldiers in the later Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and was eventually introduced throughout much of western Europe by the late 15th century. The "fifer" played his fife for marching and to give signals during battle, but it was also used to accompany dancing. The fife disappeared from the British army in the 17th century but was reintroduced in the mid-18th century, and eventually replaced in Britain by a short conical flute, either without keys or with one key.

Chris Norman plays wooden flutes, crumhorn, and bagpipe for the Consort. He also plays traditional flutes with the trio Helicon and baroque and classical flute in recital. He has also achieved ranking on the Billboard charts with his Dorian solo album, Man with a Wooden Flute. A second solo CD, entitled The Beauty of the North, features traditional music of Chris's native Nova Scotia and the other provinces of Eastern Canada. Critics have hailed him as "the best traditional flute player in the country."