Pan pipes (also known as the panflute or the syrinx) is an ancient musical instrument based on the principle of the stopped pipe, consisting usually of ten or more pipes of gradually increasing length. The syrinx (Greek συριγξ) has long been popular as a folk instrument, and is considered the ancestor of both the pipe organ and the harmonica, or mouth organ.
The pipes composing it are stopped at one end, so that the sound waves have to travel twice the length of the pipe, giving out a note nearly an octave lower than that produced by an open pipe of equal length. The breath is blown horizontally across the open end against the sharp inner edge of the pipes, creating the regular series of pulses which generate the sound waves within the tubes. Each pipe gives out one note, but by overblowing, that is, increased pressure of breath and tension of lips, harmonics are produced.
The plural of syrinx is syringes, from which the modern word syringe is derived. (Pan pipes is both singular and plural.) Other names for the instrument include Panflute and the medieval name fistula panis.
The pan pipes were most recently popularised by the Romanian musician Gheorghe Zamfir, who toured extensively and recorded many albums of pan pipe music, and by several other artists who began recording at the same time. They are also very popular in Peruvian traditional groups.