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 Post subject: On a keyed flute....
PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 7:17 pm 
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I find I'm having difficulty locating a good resting spot for my lower 4th finger on my 6-key flute, given the location of the Eb/D# key.

Looking at videos of folks playing keyed flutes, it appears that some rest their Lower 3rd finger on the bottom tone-hole (D, if you will) for balance, only lifting it to play the E/e notes. They seem to do this rather than resting the bottom 4th finger. Do people really do this or are my eyes playing tricks on me?

Thanks and best wishes.

Steve

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 Post subject: Re: On a keyed flute....
PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:33 pm 
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My ring finger rests next to the tone hole. When I play D, it is covered, then I roll it off the tone hole but keep it on the flute for support. It depends on the run as to whether or not I need the support.


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 Post subject: Re: On a keyed flute....
PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 4:01 am 
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Steve Bliven wrote:
I find I'm having difficulty locating a good resting spot for my lower 4th finger on my 6-key flute, given the location of the Eb/D# key.

Looking at videos of folks playing keyed flutes, it appears that some rest their Lower 3rd finger on the bottom tone-hole for balance, only lifting it to play E


It's not just keyed flutes, but keyless flutes, and whistles.

It's the issue of an "anchor" finger.

I've seen many different ways. I don't think any is "right" or "wrong". Here are some I've seen

1) put the lower-hand little finger down on the body of the flute/whistle for certain notes, usually G, A, B, and C#, or sometimes just A, B, and C#. Or, thinking of it the other way, keeping that little finger down most of the time but lifting it for E, F#, and G, or only E and F#. When I played keyed flute I did this, resting my finger on the key-block. Many trad players rotate the footjoint around so the keys are out of the way, and rest the finger on the body of the flute just as they would a keyless flute or whistle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gTUcugg2yo

2) similar to #1 but keep the lower-hand little finger down fulltime, for all notes. When I try this, one note seems awkward, E, fingered xxx xxox. But it doesn't bother Matt Molloy any.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dS7NxJDp4zQ

Here's a variant, playing plain E melody notes with the lower-hand little finger down, but taking it off when doing pats on E.

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

3) put the lower-hand ring finger on its hole for certain notes, usually G, A, B, and C#, sometimes just A, B, and C#. I think it would be a mistake to view this fingering in isolation, because it strikes me as being only one part of an overall old-school system of partially-open fingering on the flute and whistle.

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

4) use no anchor finger at all.

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 Post subject: Re: On a keyed flute....
PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:35 am 
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I vent the Eflat key on all notes except D and Fnat. It has little effect on most notes, makes many sound better. On all of mine, the E is stronger, the F# more in-tune, and the third-octave D pitch sounds best when played OXX OOOk.

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 Post subject: Re: On a keyed flute....
PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 5:32 pm 
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I do pretty much what Chas does.


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 Post subject: Re: On a keyed flute....
PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 5:09 am 
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Yes stupid me I forgot to mention that one, which is the proper one for 19th century orchestral flutes: depressing the Eb key with the little finger for certain notes, which simultaneously acts as a little-finger anchor, and gives venting to notes.

It's the fingering Boehm flutists are accustomed to, the epitome of the "open" system of fingering that Boehm championed.

However I can only recall ever seeing one professional-level Irish flute player do this, it was a superb Highland piper with The Battlefield Band who had learnt Irish flute. I'm guessing that he learned the fingerings off a fingering chart.

Common with trad Irish fluteplayers I've seen is as soon as they pick up a flute they twist the footjoint around so the keys are on the bottom side, out of the way. In the old days, before people started making dedicated flutes for ITM, everybody played antique 8-key flutes and you'd see them with tape wrapped around the keys to render them immobile, or all the keys removed and tape wrapped around to cover the holes, or putty in the holes, or whatever. The notion that you would use the keys seemed foreign.

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 Post subject: Re: On a keyed flute....
PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:15 am 
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I'm with Chas and Jim, but that's basically because my baroque flute teacher tells me to vent the Eb key on most notes :)


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 Post subject: Re: On a keyed flute....
PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:10 am 
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I'm in the habit of rotating the footjoint outward so that the key is not accessible, and my pinky forms the right-hand "anchor". However, I'm also of the opinion that this is not the best habit. The reasoning I have for this is that the pinky and ring finger are intrinsically "linked" on similar muscle and nerve groups, and too much tension in the pinky can affect the dexterity of the ring finger. I have nothing but anecdotal evidence to back this up, but ever since I started opting toward the right-hand thumb as the "anchor" point, my right hand has been much freer and suffered less fatigue.

I still go back to the old habit when I'm performing, since it's familiar and old habits die hard... but I'm trying to break it.


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 Post subject: Re: On a keyed flute....
PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:31 am 
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I greatly appreciate the input thus far—and encourage any other thoughts.

On a keyless flute, I anchor with the pinky of my right (lower) hand. However, I lift both the pinky and third finger in tandem as suggested by MKE_Chris as I've found that makes the movement of the third finger faster and more controlled (for me at least).

Where I have trouble on a keyed flute is where to rest the pinky. As has been suggested, removing the Eb/D# key by rotating the foot joint resolves the problem, but at many $ per key and the occasional need for that note, shouldn't there be a better way than removing it from use? I have found that I can rest the third finger on the appropriate hole, rest the pinky lightly on the key and allow the two fingers to move as one unless the lower key needs to be operated. I checked with Glenn Watson, maker of the flute, and he responded that his instrument design did not call for the E to be vented.

So, I'm still wondering what to use to anchor the lower end of the flute. As long at the upper fingers are on the flute (G, A, B), I can use my right thumb but once the upper fingers begin to come off, I lose all control.

Again, thanks to all for your thoughts.

Best wishes.

Steve

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~ Antoine Mahaut, 1759 in a tutor for playing the transverse flute ~


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 Post subject: Re: On a keyed flute....
PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 12:57 pm 
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The "correct" use of the Eb key as described by PCP, Jim and Chas above is certainly to be recommended and IMO in no way interferes with a finger-articulated Irish style of playing. However, whilst I have seen and know a good many players who "anchor" with R3 rather than R4 (whether or not on the Eb key, if any) - so yes, it "is a thing" - I would strongly suggest that if you are supporting the flute (any flute, including keyless) in the best fashion, you do not need an "anchor finger". As I'm perhaps over-fond of saying, it's all in the R thumb. Get that right and all else to do with secure flute support and free movement of fingers falls into place. cf my "Flute Hold" document and also this video, whilst actually about another flute support/finger use issue, is also relevant and includes demonstrations of secure support of the flute without an "anchor finger".

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Last edited by jemtheflute on Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: On a keyed flute....
PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:17 pm 
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jemtheflute wrote:
. . . I would strongly suggest that if you are supporting the flute (any flute, including keyless) in the best fashion, you do not need an "anchor finger". As I'm perhaps over-fond of saying, it's all in the R thumb.


I'm with you, Jem. As with Peter Otto, I've played quite a bit of baroque, and follow Quantz's recommendation on holding the flute -- lower lip, base of LH1, LH thumb. He was quite adamant that you should be able to play a C# without the right hand. I've recently gotten a new Olwell (will post pics when I get comfortable enough to post clips) that has a RH touch for the Bflat, since I use a baroque grip.

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 Post subject: Re: On a keyed flute....
PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 4:52 am 
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jemtheflute wrote:
I would strongly suggest that if you are supporting the flute (any flute, including keyless) in the best fashion, you do not need an "anchor finger". As I'm perhaps over-fond of saying, it's all in the R thumb. Get that right and all else to do with secure flute support and free movement of fingers falls into place.


+1

I'm with him.

If at your level of ability you're still fretting about anchors, something's wrong. At this stage, the sustenance of the flute should be totally automatic and unconcious.

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 Post subject: Re: On a keyed flute....
PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 6:41 am 
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s1m0n wrote:
If at your level of ability you're still fretting about anchors, something's wrong. At this stage, the sustenance of the flute should be totally automatic and unconcious.

Yep, I am having an issue, which is why I'm asking.

As noted, things are fine with an unkeyed instrument. However, when trying to move to a modern keyed flute, that darn Eb/D# key is in the way. As further noted, the maker suggests that the flute is not designed to be vented with the key and some tunes call for that note. So, I'm looking for ways that others approach this conundrum.

On the antique flutes I've played, venting the Eb/D# key works fine both as an anchor and to improve the sound and intonation, and so I've used that.

I haven't (yet) sorted out how to use the lower thumb as an anchor when the rest of the lower fingers are off the instrument.

The suggestions presented above are greatly appreciated and I've been trying them out one by one and—hopefully—at some point I'll find what works best for me.

Thanks and best wishes.

Steve

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"[Some flutists] place the flute between the upper lip and the nose, blowing the instrument from below. This position does not prevent good playing, but it does not look graceful."
~ Antoine Mahaut, 1759 in a tutor for playing the transverse flute ~


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 Post subject: Re: On a keyed flute....
PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:29 am 
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YMMV but...
1. I do not always have an anchor finger down, but sometimes I do.
2. When I play a keyed flute, I have the foot joint with the E Flat key turned just far enough away from me that I can rest the RH pinky on the flute next to the key, but still activate the key if I wish through a sideways movement of the finger.

Venting the E Flat would also be an option, but since I do not always have my finger down, the extra movement involved in opening and closing the key when I do choose to rest my finger disturbs me.

I can hold and play the flute with all holes open and no pinky on the flute. But it limits my stability to the extent that I can't move my body around as freely as when holding with a few more fingers down.

Chris

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