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Magical Flutist

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Pay the piper. Or else.

Once upon a time in the village of Hamelin
Had a dirty job so they hired an alien
Showed up with my pipe, now the rats are gone
Drowned in the river, that's extermination
GWAR, Ratcatcher

A character that is notable for having a flute or some other kind of wind instrument, playing tunes with it that give a feeling of mystery or magic, and for being quite mysterious themselves. Bonus points if this character is a representation of nature or has the power of mind control, summoning, or teleportation. The flute itself might be an Instrument of Murder, and the flutist might be a Musical Assassin, but not always.

A Snake Charmer is a subtrope. See also: Elemental Powers, Friend to All Living Things, Magic Music, Wandering Minstrel.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Naruto: Tayuya is this and Musical Assassin. She can manipulate demonic dolls using it, as well as casting illusions.
  • From Magi: Labyrinth of Magic, this is how Aladdin summons Uugo, and how Pisti can befriend animals.
  • My-HiME: The mysterious white-cloaked HiME who uses a flute to control Yatagarasu. Better known as the Face–Heel Turn-ed Shiho.
  • Radiant: Hameline, true to her namesake uses a special flute to command her Nemesis and use sorcery, also contains a hidden blade inside it.
  • Lena of Shamanic Princess uses a flute to summon and manipulate a vine-like substance.
  • In the Makaiju arc of The '90s Sailor Moon, Ail uses his flute and his Magic Music to summon and control the monsters of the week.
  • In one of the Dragon Ball Z non serial movies, Trunks befriends one of these. His name is Tapion, he plays a magical ocarina and has one half of a God of Evil sealed in his body.
  • Inuyasha: Minor demon villain Ongokuki kidnapped Rin and several other children by hypnotising them with flute music.

    Asian Animation 
  • Boonie Bears: In Season 2 episode 10, Tiki and later Logger Vick come across a flute that has a switch on it with two settings, a sun setting and a moon setting, and use it to their advantage, with the latter attempting to stop the bears with it. When played on the moon setting, the flute causes anyone in hearing range besides the person playing it to fall asleep; when played on the sun setting, it causes them to become feral and attack others.
  • Motu Patlu: In "Magical Flute", among the loot that John the Don's minions stole from a store is a magic flute that, when played, causes anybody within hearing range to do an Involuntary Dance. Naturally, John utilizes the flute in yet another of his villainous schemes.
  • In episode 10 of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, Wolffy learns of a magic flute that is said to have been used to drive a rat infestation out of a wolf village a long time ago. Playing the flute causes all within hearing range to blindly follow whoever is playing the instrument, so Wolffy tries to use it to lure the goats to his place. As he learns near the end of the episode, however, the flute only mind-controls rats, not goats.

    Comic Books 
  • The Smurfs and the Magic Flute and its 2008 prequel The Flute Smurfers. See also Western Animation.
  • In The Courageous Princess, Irgerat usurped his brother's throne via a magic flute, that turns out to be able to summon literally any magic effect the player wants. The protagonist, after using it to defeat him and the dragon pursuing her, ends up breaking it in half since it's too powerful an Infinity +1 Sword for anyone to possess.

    Fairy Tales 
  • "The Pied Piper of Hamelin": The titular character is hired by the citizens of the German town of Hamelin to get rid of their rat plague problem by using his flute to hypnotize every rat in town and lead them into a river. However, the ungrateful townsfolk go back on the deal after the fact, so the pied piper returns and uses his flute to hypnotize their children as well, leading them out of town and into a cave which he then seals shut. Depending on the tone of the version being told, he'll either return the children after the people apologize to him or leaves them to die to teach their parents a lesson.
  • "The Nix in the Mill-Pond": On the second full moon, the wife uses a golden flute to play the most beautiful song she knows in order to rescue her husband from the nixie's pond.
  • In the Scandinavian fairy tale Jesper who Herded the Hares (and variants), the protagonist is given a magical instrument (usually a flute or pipe, sometimes a harmonica) to herd the king's hares.

    Films — Animated 
  • Mavka: The Forest Song: Lukash playing his flute isn't inherently magical, but it does have magical effects on Mavka.
  • Shrek Forever After: The Pied Piper is a bounty hunter, his flute adjustable to whatever creature he wanted to hypnotize (in this case, ogres).
  • "Sahara" note : Omar, the Big Bad of the movie, possesses a magic flute carved from the bones of an ancient snake deity. When he plays it, the music allows him to control snakes. He can use it to make them dance for his snake-charming performance, or keep them from escaping him (as demonstrated when Eva tries to leave). Later, Ajar steals the flute to keep it out of Omar's hands, and at some point, breaks it during a struggle.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Dark Crystal: Jen's split flute comes in handy for identifying the true shard and in a bonding scene with fellow Gelfling Kira.
  • Escape to Witch Mountain (1975): Tony plays a harmonica to increase his telekinetic powers.
  • Kill Bill: Bill plays a wooden flute which lends to his mysteriousness.
  • Live and Let Die: One of James Bond's opponents is a man who plays the role of the voodoo loa Baron Samedi. Bond once encounters him while he's playing a flute. After apparently being killed by venomous snakes, at the end he appears riding the front of a train, indicating that he may be the real Baron Samedi.
  • In the Wuxia film The Magic Crane, Pak Wan-fai is frequently seen playing her bamboo flute, which is used to summon and control the titular magic crane.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: Mr. Wonka uses a flute key to summon the Oompa-Loompas when he needs to issue a command to them.
  • 7 Faces of Dr. Lao: Pan uses his pipes on Angela as the audible equivalent of a Love Potion (though he ultimately points her towards her local would-be suitor rather than himself.)

  • Edgar Pangborn: His short story "Tiger Boy" might count. The eponymous youth plays a set of pan pipes, runs wild and naked, and has a fully-grown tiger as a companion. The pipes attract a mute teenage village boy to Tiger Boy's side (possible echoes of the Pied Piper). However, he's not actually magical - it's a feudal, post-holocaust world. (He's certainly not immortal either.)
  • The Saga of Darren Shan: The titular young vampire performs in a circus, controlling a giant spider with his flute.
  • The Elenium: A young girl, the Goddess Aphrael, who seemingly doesn't talk but does play the flute is named Flute by our heroes.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The faun Mr. Tumnus (the first Narnian we meet) plays a flute lullaby to Lucy on her first trip to Narnia.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Grover the Satyr often uses flutes (all versions of them, in fact) to cast nature-based spells. Among them include one that causes a Titan to assimilate into an enormous oak tree during the final battle with Kronos. That's what we'd call a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Xanth: Chester Centaur's magical talent is to manifest and play a magical flute.
  • The Rat Piper in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (the real one, not the stupid-looking kid) works very hard at maintaining this image. Maurice and Keith trade on his reputation.
  • Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi has one for a narrator. His original flute, 'lingering sentiment' is replaced for most of the story by a quickly chopped, bamboo branch with shoddy holes and splinters he made in an emergency, and it doesn't slow him down at all. Not only does he call up the dead with whistles, claps, and commanded entire armies with his flute; but at one point, while lying low, he successfully rescues a very complicated piece of magic, harmonizing with someone else's work on strings, while deliberately playing just enough wrong notes to leave the hearers with the impression he's unskilled and lucky. Notable that even his emulators, of which he has several, haven't come close to understanding how he did wha the did with music.
  • The Blind Idiot God Azathoth in the Cthulhu Mythos enjoys himself some flute music, which would undoubtably be at least extremely unpleasant to human listeners. The sound of his flutists is what keeps him from waking up and destroying the universe.
  • The Piper of Keys to the Kingdom, who is based on The Pied Piper of Hamelin, uses his pipes to control children and rats.
  • In Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things, playing the flute in the woods is what led to Tom's capture by The Fair Folk.
  • In Rachel Griffin, Rachel initially uses a flute to cast spells, as per the trope. However, it turns out that just whistling can do as well.
  • Pact has Johannes Lillegard, a sorcerer who wields a set of pipes which are said to have originated with the original Pied Piper. He uses them to control rats, dogs, and the copies of children whose suffering he sells to supernatural creatures for power.
  • Virginia Dare in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel apparently plays her flute for a living. She also uses it to cast spells.
  • At one point in the story of This Immortal, the group of protagonists encounters some satyrs in the forest, prompting Conrad to produce shepherd's pipes out of nowhere and causing a dancing frenzy among the satyrs with his music. At the end of the book, Myshtigo theorises that Conrad may be the god Pan in disguise when recalling that incident.
  • In the Felix Castor series of novels, the titular character favored medium of channeling his ability to bind ghosts is by playing tunes on a tin whistle that reflects the ghost's nature.
  • In the Bedlam's Bard series by Mercedes Lackey, the main character Eric Banyon is a Bard whose primary instrument is the flute.
  • In the Elemental Masters series, Air Master Nigel Barrett uses a flute for such spells as summoning the sylphs. He started out with a metal one, but when it didn't feel quite right, he had a glassblower make him a glass one instead.
  • In Robert Rankin's novels, mysterious guru's guru Hugo Rune has many titles, among which is the Reinventor of the Ocarina. It's revealed in The Book of Ultimate Truths that the reinvented ocarina allows travel to the Forbidden Zones.

  • Classical Mythology: The Greek god Pan could induce fear and panic with his pipes.
  • Native American US Southwest: Kokopelli is this, mixed with the fertility role, thus giving a new meaning to his flute.
  • Hindu Mythology: Krishna was one in his childhood.


  • The Magnus Archives:
    • The war poet Wifred Owen has an encounter on the battlefield with a strange being he calls the Piper.
    • The title of the episode "Boatswain's Call" refers to the old-fashioned whistle the mate carries. The narrator soon learns that it's no ordinary call.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Fraggle Rock: Cantus has a magical forked pipe. When he is first seen playing it in "The Minstrels", flowers start to open.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! spellcaster monster Mystic Piper lets you draw a card and if it's a level 1 monster card an extra one, once.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Satyrs have pipes that they can use to create magical effects.
  • The iconic Pathfinder bard, Lem, wields a silver flute as his primary instrument and casts powerful magic with it.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, Kakuya's presence is identifiable by the flute that she plays, which can be heard from a large distance by those that she's cursed. In contrast to the horrific hauntings that she inflicts on her victims, her flute's song is serene.

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes: A few shorts have parodied The Pied Piper:
    • Porky Pig played the Piper in a couple of cartoons. In one he has to contend with a cat angry with him for ridding Hamelin of rats.
    • Sylvester tried to make a flute to capture Speedy Gonzalez and friends. Also, Sylvester Jr. found that he could attract different animals by adding holes to the flute.
  • The Smurfs and the Magic Flute: Peewit stumbles upon the magic flute of the Smurfs that makes whoever listens to it dance to its tune. It ends up in the possession of a thief named Matthew McCreep, who uses it to make people pass out from the dancing so he can rob them.
  • In Thunder Cats 2011, Wileykit can send people into a trance by playing a sort of ring-shaped ocarina.
  • The Pixie, Dixie and Mr. Jinks short "Pied Piper Pipe" has Mr. Jinks, inspired by the Pied Piper story, create a flute to torture the meeces with. They get back at him by placing a dog whistle in the flute so Jinks can get beaten up a nearby bulldog.
  • The 1930 Screen Songs short "In the Good Old Summer Time" has a gag where a hippo's flue brings inanimate objects to life and follow him. Even a stereotypical Jewish pig's clothes fly off of him to follow the sound.
  • The Adventures of Puss in Boots has the Piper Maliflua, who can control animals with her flute like the Pied Piper, but only one kind of animal at a time; she uses a different flute for each animal.
  • Kaeloo: In Episode 132, Mr. Cat somehow gets hold of a magic flute and tries to use it to lead a bunch of sheep into a trap.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, Volpina uses her flute to conjure hyperrealistic illusions. The real holder of the Fox Miraculous, Rena Rouge (aka Alya) also has this power.
  • Samurai Jack has the bounty hunter Scaramouche, who (as part of his Magic Music powers) can play a magical flute that allows him to create and control a giant golem out of surrounding stone rubble through telekinesis.
  • Roberon in Robotman And Friends derives his magic powers from a flute he plays (despite the fact that he self-admittedly hates music and is weakened by it). It has been commented on many times that the tune he plays sounds an awful lot like the Spider-Man theme.
  • The "Rodent Rebellion" special that comprised the entirety of the fifth and final season of The Garfield Show ended with Nermal herding the rodents that have overrun the town and luring them to the police by playing his flute. Nermal even brings up how this is similar to the story of the Pied Piper.

    Real Life 
  • The Japanese shakuhachi is strongly associated with the Fuke sect of Zen Buddhism, who used the instrument as part of their meditative process. When the Meiji government cracked down on the previous bakufu and all associated religions, they specifically attacked the practice of playing the shakuhachi.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Magical Flautist


The Piper

A few notes from the flute and those under the spell are compelled to leave their homes and walk into the forest, never to return...

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