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 Post subject: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:14 pm 
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I know we have discussed this before but I want to ask the folks now present.
I'm playing ITM, American fiddle tunes, but also a lot of tunes that I love. I'm playing
blues, rock n'roll (beatles), classical tunes, show tunes, whatever moves me. I'm playing six-keyed flutes a good deal.

I did play an eight-keyed flute with truly functional bottom keys, this about ten years or more years ago (I've now been playing sixteen years at least), and didn't much use them. But that was
quite awhile ago, and I've improved and expanded my musical interests.

So I want to ask those of you with eight-keyed flutes, are you using the bottom keys? I can go for an eight-key again, and will if I think it will significantly improve/expand my playing. Advice welcome. Thanks to all.


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 Post subject: Re: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:54 pm 
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I certainly use them a lot, and I only play ITM, it is a matter of taste in the tunes you want to play, and how you want to play them. I do not think getting those two extra keys will improve your playing, it really is a matter of tastes. I personally prefer to go low on the C and C# rather then playing it up, but again, my kids play fiddle and I still have to go up on quite a few notes, c'est la vie...


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 Post subject: Re: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:19 pm 
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I have an 8-key flute in C and I do use those keys, mainly when playing with fiddlers. For a few years I was playing frequently with a fiddler who played a lot of Paddy Fahy and Eddie Kelly tunes, and in some of our sets I was using all 8 keys on that flute. If you're not used to using the keys it can take a few years for your little finger to catch up in terms of dexterity and accuracy. It'll likely be hit or miss for quite a while.


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 Post subject: Re: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 6:39 pm 
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bradhurley wrote:
If you're not used to using the keys it can take a few years for your little finger to catch up in terms of dexterity and accuracy. It'll likely be hit or miss for quite a while.

I recently acquired my first keyed flute. I had always planned on a six-key upgrade from my keyless D flute, but an 8-key came along at the right time (a secondhand Tom Aebi, Rudall style).

I've come to terms with the upper 6 keys, but getting a good solid note on the lower C# and C is a struggle. It doesn't help that this flute has the historical pewter plugs, but I think most of it is just getting my embouchure drilled into shape for those keys. If I nail the embouchure perfectly for a low D, then I can hit the C# with the key. The Cnat doesn't sound at all. So that's progress, and it makes me think it's my embouchure more than the key mechanics or a leak somewhere (I've done the usual suck/blow tests). Either way, I think you're getting into a fussier "Irish" flute if you're aiming for a solid low C foot with keys.

@Jim Stone: If your repertoire -- in addition to Irish trad -- is Beatles tunes, Rock, Classical, show tunes etc., then why wouldn't you use a Boehm flute? Seems like a better path, instead of forcing a 19th Century keyed flute design into that repertoire?


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 Post subject: Re: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:29 pm 
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I use them all the time! My J. Gallagher has really solid low C and C# and I would not want to live without them at this point (had this flute for over 7 years). So many possibilities with these keys; playing other genres, new ornaments, not having to fold these notes, making other flute players jealous (this is perhaps the most fun one), etc.

I think it is a pity more people don't get to know the joy of a low C (and C#).

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 Post subject: Re: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:35 pm 
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Hi Conical Bore, I really like the sound of the conical wooden flute. I find the boehm,
at least the ones made of silver, too airy fairy, and I'm embarrassed to play them in pubs.
(I know, of course, that some people can make the boehm sound like my flute, but they
are a lot more talented than me.) There is a kind of a paradox--we are playing (copies of) orchestral flutes that were meant to play lots of different music, especially classical. The copies have been somewhat adapted for ITM, more emphasis on the bottom octave, but still the point is you
can play ANYTHING on them and they will sound really beautiful. ITM is the core of the repertoire,
where you go to get chops, but once you've got chops, you can play blues, you can play anything, and
most people will think it sounds better than would a silver flute. The latter were made to soar above
a large orchestra, our flutes to blend in to ensembles. The world needs a flute that blends in to ensembles. Thanks everybody, much appreciated your remarks, Jim


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 Post subject: Re: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:39 pm 
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Also, CB, my suspicion is that your low keys need adjusting. The low keys are notoriously hard to play well, but when they work, they work straight forwardly enough, in my experience with a Grinter.


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 Post subject: Re: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:05 pm 
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jim stone wrote:
Also, CB, my suspicion is that your low keys need adjusting. The low keys are notoriously hard to play well, but when they work, they work straight forwardly enough, in my experience with a Grinter.

You may be right about that, and thanks for the feedback. I need to contact someone in my area to take a look at this flute, and see if the C foot keys are in good shape or it's just my pitiful embouchure.


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 Post subject: Re: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:34 pm 
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To mix metaphors, it's a slippery road to perdition.

Once upon a time, I was quite happy with my keyless flute, aside from difficulty with certain accidentals, like Eb. I wouldn't get a flute without at least that one key.

I lucked into a nice antique 8-key, which solved my accidentals problem.
That allowed me to play tunes in A that the fiddlers around here like - works easier with the G# key.
Then I found a couple of must-learn tunes in F (or G-Dorian), and also in C (or D-Dorian). Both F and C tend to use the C-foot quite a bit.

Now, I'm finding that I really love the key of F. I'm not sure why; somehow it's extraordinarily cheerful. And, G-Dorian is so very sweet.

Sharon Shannon's "Neckbelly #2" is not very easy on the flute, but is such a happy tune.
Lad O'Beirnes in G-Dorian is killing me softly.
Porthole of the Kelp, benefits nicely with the low C.


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 Post subject: Re: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:41 pm 
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Regarding the difficulty of playing a strong, low C.

My flute is more along the lines of a medium-sized Rudall, rather than Pratten. The embouchure is medium-small, I guess.

At first the tone quality of my C was very weak. With practice it got a lot better. It is definitely a matter of embouchure, not flute mechanics. I also find that I do better with my low notes after practicing my high notes, i.e. high C, D and E. They take a lot of focus, and working on that strengthens my low notes.


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 Post subject: Re: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:25 am 
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I use all 8 keys, and enjoy them very much. I only play Irish traditional music.

It is however a slippery slope - I'd like a low B key, too.

Regarding pewter plugs - do they rotate at all? If so, they could have turned slightly, and not be completely sealing. They may also not be as snug a fit as they should be. Have you tried a suck test? (Literally, take the foot joint, cover one end, while holding the keys down, and suck on the other... if there's air coming in that's the issue) You can also try a little bit of oil on them to help with the seal. I use sewing machine oil, which is also good for the electric razor, and of course sewing machines.


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 Post subject: Re: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:33 pm 
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I sold my antique 8-key to raise money for my six-key Olwell. I'm counting the days, the number of which is still indefinite, till Aaron is willing to sell me a keyed C foot. Many of my favorite tunes go down to low-C (Morgan Magan and Beauty in Tears come to mind), and I wouldn't mind playing some tunes that are traditionally in C in their natural key.

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 Post subject: Re: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:32 pm 
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NicoMoreno wrote:
Regarding pewter plugs - do they rotate at all? If so, they could have turned slightly, and not be completely sealing. They may also not be as snug a fit as they should be. Have you tried a suck test? (Literally, take the foot joint, cover one end, while holding the keys down, and suck on the other... if there's air coming in that's the issue) You can also try a little bit of oil on them to help with the seal. I use sewing machine oil, which is also good for the electric razor, and of course sewing machines.

I just tried the suck test again, and the C foot seals well. The pewter plugs don't rotate, so I'll try a little oil next. But after some time spent today getting a reasonable C# and just a fleeting, bare hint of a low Cnat, I think the "suckage" here is in my embouchure. I probably just need to spend more time on that.


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 Post subject: Re: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:11 am 
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CB - it's worth making sure there's no leak anywhere else, too - you can check each section separately, but you might also want to verify that there are no leaks at the joints. Any leak, anywhere in the flute, will usually first show up in the low notes.

That said, definitely keep working on the embouchure :)


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 Post subject: Re: Eight-keys?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:50 am 
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My predilection for having and using the keys is well enough known around here, I think.

Conical Bore, have you tried playing in front of a mirror and observing your fingers whilst playing those low notes? Try it. It's pretty common to over-reach for the low C# and C touches, causing other fingers to move off their holes involuntarily. Also consider the rotation of the footjoint and make sure you have optimised it for your hand and posture.

Also, going back to basics and especially if you do observe any unhelpful finger shifting, analyse your hand posture and flute support and adjust if necessary.

It's very common to leak the R3 finger on the E hole when reaching for the foot keys. Also make sure the Eb key is closing fully and reliably consistently - the slightest leak by finger or key will stifle those low notes.

This video I made for the purchaser of a flute I sold a while back is pertinent and may help: https://youtu.be/JuOmrAVzhDg

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