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"When I awoke, all that was left of my life there… was the flute I'd taught myself to play."
– Jean-Luc Picard reminisces about his life experience as a Ressikan, 2369 ("Lessons")

The Ressikan flute was a small flute made of a tin-like material, native to the community of Ressik on the dead planet of Kataan.

Kamin's flute[]

Ressikan Flute

Picard's Ressikan flute

In 2368, Captain Jean-Luc Picard acquired a Ressikan flute through an experience he had related to a probe launched from the dead planet. The probe projected a particle beam to Picard's brain, and played out a scenario by which Picard actually experienced over fifty years in the span of only twenty-five actual minutes. As he lived the life of a man called Kamin, he also learned how to play the flute, a skill that he retained after the probe finished its program. The probe was brought in and examined, inside of which the flute was found and given to Picard. (TNG: "The Inner Light")

Picard considered the flute to be one of his most prized possessions. It represented, to him, an entire lifetime he lived in only 25 minutes, a life completely different from that aboard the USS Enterprise-D, with a wife, children and even a grandson. Through at least 2379, Picard kept the flute on his desk in his ready room aboard the USS Enterprise-E. (TNG: "Lessons"; Star Trek Nemesis)

In 2401, the flute was among Picard's possessions at Château Picard. Picard held it when telling Laris of his readiness for a new adventure explaining "These things from my past, they are so dear to me. They're mementos of dear friends, old and new. But they're memories." (PIC: "The Next Generation")

Picard Mozart trio, Program 1 was a musical composition Picard wrote for the Ressikan flute. (TNG: "A Fistful of Datas")



Background information[]

Ressikan flute prop

The flute prop with case at auction

The music of the Ressikan flute was not played by Patrick Stewart, but by musician Brice Martin. Stewart did receive lessons so that his fingering would be accurate. [1] The design of the Ressikan flute prop was based on various different makes of tin whistle. According to musician Brice Martin, the flute is a non-functional prop, and makes no sound when played. [2] In an interview, Patrick Stewart laughed, "It doesn't play; it's not a real flute." Patrick Stewart's son, however, said it "played well" for him.

The tune played by Picard in "The Inner Light" was an excerpt from "Scottish Fantasy", originally composed by Max Bruch and re-composed by Jay Chattaway. According to musician Brice Martin, the sound of the flute was provided by an Oak tin whistle in the key of D. [3]

In 2019, the music of a Ressikan flute could be heard at the end of the teaser trailer for Star Trek: Picard.

The prop itself became a hit at Star Trek auctions, being sold for the first time on 6 October 2006 as Lot #537 at Christie's 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection auction. The buyer paid $48,000 for the lot (including the buyer's premium on a bid of US$40,000), it thereby becoming the fourth most undervalued lot of the auction as the catalog estimate for the lot had been US$800 – $1,200. [4] Prior to being sold, the flute was toured by Christie's along with the other objects from the franchise and generated massive interest. While seeing it on tour, people often requested for it to be taken out simply for them to touch it – becoming a reason for Christie's to quadruple its initial US$300 estimate to the still undervalued new one. Several former The Next Generation cast and crew predicted that it would fetch one of the highest prices of any item. (TNG Season 5 Blu-ray, "The Inner Light" commentary) It subsequently turned up again at Prop Store's 29 June-2 July 2021 "Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction - Los Angeles" as Lot #242 estimated at US$50,000 – $70,000, eventually selling on 29 June for US$237,500 (without buyer's premium), almost six times the amount the prop had achieved in its initial offering. [5] A second production prop, provided by (Star Trek) prop and studio model builder Greg Jein, was auctioned as Lot #61 in the 7 October 2023 "The Greg Jein Collection" auction by Studio Auctions, still selling for US$27,600 (with 20% buyer's premium). [6]

Retailing for US$274.99, collectible company Factory Entertainment released in 2021 a high-end 1:1 scale replica of the flute, limited to 2,000 copies. Like the actual prop, it did not play, but Jay Chattaway's "Inner Light" melody was electronically incorporated in the holding box (itself a replica of the one used on-screen), and could be activated at will. The replica came with a certificate signed by the episode's writer Morgan Gendel. [7] [8] As if to underscore the status the flute had achieved in the fanbase, it sold out within a year.

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