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 Post subject: Siccama System Flutes
PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:25 am 
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Hello everyone, I have a couple questions about Siccama system flutes.

I would like to hear from anybody on the board who has had any experience with one of these flutes, and would love to hear their thoughts about them.

Also, are there any professional players that use these instruments?


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:20 am 
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I know of one player that uses one. You might ask him. However, he is no longer active on C&F, but can be found as member Ailin on thesession.org . You may need to become a registered member of that board to send him a direct message, or to post your info request in the Discussions section.

https://thesession.org/members/12138

Flute maker and flute restorer Jon Cornia (Cochran flutes) also has experience with the instruments. He is on C&F as Jon C.

memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=522

or on Facebook as Jon Cornia.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:02 pm 
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Terry McGee writes about these--always interesting to read. He made a model of this flute.
There is one for sale on the irish flute store--and some info about it, too.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:56 pm 
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I had one for a brief period, It was made by Boosey & Hawkes and restored by Jon C. I never bonded with the flute. Mainly didn’t like the keys. I have normal size hands for a man, and I don’t have trouble with the spacing in general, and on my Burns flute, Casey had made my flute with my hand dimensions in mind. So on the Siccama system flute the keys were a big nuisance to me. I felt they really limited some of the gracing I do with my fingers. The flute was also heavier than the Burns, and much heavier than my 8key Blackman.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:15 pm 
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I got a Siccama by John Hudson a few months ago (1021). I normally play a Rudall and Rose as my go to flute. It is not that heavy, has great tuning, and remarkable tone-one of the best embouchure cuts I have played.

Playing with the keys is different, and it felt clunky and disorienting to have my third fingers above the others. After a couple of months I don't notice any more and I don't have any trouble switching back to simple system or keyless. I am still playing my R+R when performing but I expect I will soon switch to make it my main flute.

You probably have to try one and see. If by any chance you are in the Pacific Northwest we could meet up. Feel free to contact me by email or message.

Hugh

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:53 pm 
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The thing I wonder about is slides on the key-covered holes, and other ornaments too. I do a lot of that. Is it doable?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:24 am 
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Slides aren't doable at least by me, so I miss the slide to G or g in particular, and I don't use slides up to E or e, so one has to decide if this is a deal breaker.

Standard cuts, rolls, short rolls etc are fine. Forgot to mention that the key noise takes a while to get used to as well as using the keys.

For me the tradeoff is big fat sound with great edge, great tuning, even notes (no more veiled E and A) and relaxed hand position which has benefits for playing overall, vs larger diameter, keys, key sounds, and loss of slides. So for me, the positives significantly outweigh the negatives, but others may rank these differently.

If anyone out there wants to sell a Hudson Siccama with a working foot joint, I would love to know about it. Mine has an amateur, permanent "repair" that can't be fixed, unless someone would be willing to custom make a C# key in the Hudson style.

Hugh

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:08 pm 
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It seems like the Siccama System can take some getting used to if you have only used flutes that work with uncovered tone holes. Also, glissandi from D to E and G to A sound rather challenging to pull off.

flutefry, thank you for sharing your experience with Siccama system flutes. I'm afraid I don't live in the U.S.A. but thank you for your kind offer. I'm interested that you are thinking of making it your main flute. I imagine that if you play in a style that doesn't use a lot of finger sliding, the keys shouldn't be too much of a problem. When you mention that the flute has a larger diameter, do you mean the bore, the outer walls or both?

I shall take a look at the flute in The Irish Flute Store, thanks for the heads up jim stone.

kkrell, I shall pay The Session a visit.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:12 pm 
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Matt Molloy appears to be using Siccama keys on this low Bb flute. You can see them clearly at 50 seconds in. I imagine these keys are helpful on a larger flute such as this where a bigger finger stretch may be involved.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np8NW16Dx3Y


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:19 pm 
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I have Metzler Siccama style flute. I got it because I find normal simple system flute too much of a stretch to be comfortable and am very aware of the veiled E and A on a 'small-handed' flute.

Once I started playing in sessions regularly I found that a four-key open holed flute worked fine for normal sessions keys plus the occasional accidental so the Siccama is mainly in its box at the moment. However, if I get back to playing in a wider range of keys - or even in A more regularly - it will be back in action because of the more 'even' scale.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:01 am 
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John Hudson, who made the original Siccama, also made the Pratten's Perfected. I am not an expert, but I understand that the interior bore design of the Siccama and Pratten are closely related. Both of these have larger bores than Rudall and Rose.

However my comment was addressed to the outside diameter-relatively small differences change the way a flute feels , so I was pointing out that my Siccama feels like a "fat flute" to me, compared to my R+R. My intent was to suggest that those who are looking for reduced finger stretch may find that they aren't willing to trade that for a larger diameter flute, which has its own tradeoffs.

Hugh

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:43 am 
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Thanks for your post david_h, it seems like the even scale is a notable feature of these instruments.

I played a Siccama style flute around a month back, it had old pads and an un-repaired crack in the head joint, so it probably wasn't playing to its full potential. I was greatly surprised by the chunkiness of the instrument. It felt larger in the hand than any D flute I have ever played, including antique Pratten type flutes.

flutefry, I had heard ( probably from Terry McGee's Siccama flute pages) that the Siccama flutes stamped with his name are in fact the work of John Hudson. These flutes feature John Hudson's pin mounted keys, with the detachable key cups. I notice one flute on Terry's site that is stamped "Siccama", but features block mounted keys, not in the Hudson style. I wonder if this particular flute was made by John Hudson, or another maker ?


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 4:00 pm 
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Mine has the typical Hudson pads and keys. No clue about the block-mounted version, although I can imagine someone ordering it specially. Interesting that you noticed the external diameter. Perhaps worth pointing out that many makers used the Siccama system, so quality and details can very considerably.

Hugh

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 5:59 pm 
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I have owned and played several original Siccama flutes (Hudson-made), and still own Siccama #29, the oldest extant.

I was happy to have helped Terry McGee with his Hudson research -- having had a number of the Pratten flutes as well.

The block-mounted one mentioned, I think, was actually one owned by Andrew Kirby, and was a Hudson flute whose holes were redone and mounts placed on odd locations, etc.

Most early Siccama flutes were block mounts for the the standard keys, and posts for the two keys that made the Siccama so distinct. The effort was to place the two holes (A and E) in what was believed to be their accoustically correct position. The bore was enlarged as well.

In the end, it's a very powerful flute with very distinct sound. McGee rightfully suspected -- as did many of us who played Siccama and Hudson-made Pratten flutes -- that the Pratten derives its power from a number of things lifted from the Siccama.

John Hudson, of course, was his own maker who worked for Abel Siccama (a linguist by trade) and later took on the work as foreman at Boosey & Son for the R.S. Pratten's Perfected flute. It was an association that made sense since Pratten was playing a Siccama flute and very likely knew John Hudson quite well. Boosey also owned the quarters where Pratten and his guitar-playing wife gave lessons -- their ads being quite prominent in a musical publication of the day (Musical World) that was owned by Boosey.

Nevertheless.....the Pratten flutes (in their 8key stages.....before they became spiders of many keys) suffered from several accoustic issues (not the least of which is the horribly flat C-sharp). But they did not have the powerful low E that the Siccama flutes have. Truly something.

Other than the basic ornaments of the glide (as it was called at the time, mostly b/c of Charles Nicholson's techniques) being unable to do for an A or an E.....the flutes work very nicely in the Irish traditional tunes. Heck....if only two keys are at issue, then the old Patty Carty tunes on a Radcliffe and those of Joanie Madden on the multi-keyed Boehm should be awful....but they aren't, of course.

Like all things, Siccama flutes need to be experienced to appreciate.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 6:09 pm 
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Uni Flute wrote:
Matt Molloy appears to be using Siccama keys on this low Bb flute. You can see them clearly at 50 seconds in. I imagine these keys are helpful on a larger flute such as this where a bigger finger stretch may be involved.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np8NW16Dx3Y


That flute, btw, is a Hawkes, as I recall.
A great idea to playing a low Bb comfortably


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