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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:29 am 
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I admit my point is about, as I see it, a general problem of elitism attached by people to certain makers and not the specific point of production as this thread was about. As you may be able to tell this particular point has stuck in my craw for some time now, years in fact. This may, or may not, have been the best time to express it.

I do not see the makers themselves make the claims of their elite nature. As to whether a person think Casey stuck his neck out is also an opinion that I do not share, he just expressed a thought of his. I personally believe that a person with that many years of experience would still have the knack of cutting and voicing their flutes whether fifty or five a year. Whether or not that cut works for me is another thing. That is my opinion. I am also not sure if he would be receiving the same response if it were another maker that only turns out a few flutes a year at this point.

I do understand why people are so emotional about who made their flute but not why they are so willing to go after anyone that does not have the same experience. We have all seen it for years on this board in which some makers are untouchable. Peter you have had an incredible experience with your Copeland flute for instance and how accommodating he was to your very specific situation and you have also been very polite to anyone that does not see him as a top and capable maker. That is a reasoned response on your part. Your experience in fact raised him quite a bit as a maker in my opinion. One of my thoughts is that for some people it is not the maker they are trying to protect but the resale value. I also personally think that flute ranking in an order is silly. There are a lot of great makers as a group. Some have been with us a short time, and some for decades. We should be able to express the thought about our experience without someone piping in with "but it is not a blank".


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:35 am 
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Casey Burns wrote:
Well said Kmag!

Set-up can make or break how an instrument feels. For flutes that is the practice of tuning and voicing, which is done by the careful shaping of the bore, tone holes and embouchure holes. I contend that the reason why my flutes and Pat's flute are so approachable vs. the Wilkes flute being not so approachable for so many is simply that Pat and I have gotten much more practice at this due to the vast number of instruments we have made, compared with the smaller quantity by Wilkes.

Everything about Music requires practice - no matter how good you are at it.

It is said that the 83 year old cellist Pablo Casals was asked if he still practiced. His response was "I do, and feel like I am making daily progress."

Casey


Please stop tying yourself to Patrick Olwell as if Patrick is somehow on your side of the argument...

There is no reason to assume makers who sell fewer flutes in a year somehow have less practice - they probably spend more time per flute perfecting the cut, tuning, and voicing of each individual flute. Surely practice is not just affected by the number of repeated sets, but also by quality and intensity of each individual set?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:47 am 
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kmag wrote:
As to whether a person think Casey stuck his neck out is also an opinion that I do not share, he just expressed a thought of his.

He said it himself (apart from using the word 'head' for 'neck'):

Casey Burns wrote:
I am making the point and sticking my head out

kmag wrote:
I personally believe that a person with that many years of experience would still have the knack of cutting and voicing their flutes whether fifty or five a year.

Me too. And that's what I find contentious about Casey's claims. Forget the names involved and just consider what was said in an abstract/hypothetical sense. You could equally well argue that the low-volume maker has more time to get things just right, but I'm not arguing either.

kmag wrote:
Whether or not that cut works for me is another thing. That is my opinion.

Which you have every right to, as Casey does to his. That's not been my issue at all here.

kmag wrote:
Peter you have had an incredible experience with your Copeland flute

Copley. But, yes, thanks for what follows:

kmag wrote:
for instance and how accommodating he was to your very specific situation and you have also been very polite to anyone that does not see him as a top and capable maker. That is a reasoned response on your part. Your experience in fact raised him quite a bit as a maker in my opinion.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:52 am 
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My apologies to the original poster as well. This thread has really gone sideways from its intention. It is not a first but I am sorry for being a part of it.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:04 pm 
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To me what is the problem that there are certain makers that if you say the flute doesn't work for them people come unglued. It stops all reasoned discourse and I feel personally that it is a form of censorship by attack and shaming.


If you think that is all Casey was claiming you need to go back and re-read the thread.

Quote:
What I have been hesitant to say in the past is that not every makers flutes work well for everyone.


Nobody is disagreeing with that.

Quote:
Saying a maker makes crappy flutes is wrong but saying it does not work for them, and that opinion should be kept under your hat, just because of who made it is not right. It is an opinion.


Casey said more than that they do not work for him. He made it pretty clear that he thinks Wilkes flutes are inferior with respect to tuning and voicing. That is what people are disagreeing with. And it is ridiculous to suggest he is being censored or shamed.

Quote:
I am sure some people will pile on now just for not paying homage to one of the few makers this board has held up as sacred.


Man, read the thread. No one is criticizing anyone for not paying homage to Wilkes. To suggest that is a red herring and totally unfair.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:54 pm 
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This discussion is fascinating, because I've always wondered about this "more or less harder to play" thing.

I guess a central question here is whether a "harder" flute forces the player to use a more focused embouchure, which might be good for tone generation in general. Not just adapting to a specific flute model. Or is it only causing more effort than necessary?

I've wondered if the Windward flute I play might be a little more towards the "narrower sweet spot" and a little harder to play category, based on a few comments I've read in various places. But I'm not sure about that, because I haven't played enough other flutes for comparison. This one sounds great when I manage to dial it in, but there isn't much room for error in finding the exact position and embouchure for that dialed-in tone.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:15 pm 
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Pleeze! I am not claiming that Pat and I are in this together. I am merely citing him as an example of a maker who has done a lot of tuning and voicing like myself and his flutes reflect that in their approachability. Same with mine.

As to Wilkes' flutes, I find that for me personally they wouldn't be worth the price tag not to mention the decade-long wait. As to finding the sweet spot, any tube with a closed end with a crude hole drilled for an embouchure with or without fingerholes will have a "sweet spot" where these do everything you want to do. But one will have to work hard at it and develop the lip muscles for that specific instrument. Meanwhile, every other flute or flute-like object will feel wrong.

Given the investment in time waiting for and money paying for, some will feel much privilege and entitlement because they bought into this when others couldn't. I see this type of thing as well in the Guilloché engraving community. I am one of the renegades, as well as another who has built all of his own equipment. Above us are two women who are considered renegades as well because, well, they are women. Apparently only very wealthy white men who can afford to spend $1.9million on an original Holtzappfel lathe are the only ones allowed and we are viewed as a threat to their current world view.

I have frequently witnessed this type of thing in the instrument making community. It seems the farther one gets away from England either geographically or culturally, the less the adherence to orthodoxy. We could care less about it here on the left coast.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 1:41 am 
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Aside from the polemics, I think this thread has highlighted an interesting decision that all flute makers must eventually make, either consciously or subconsciously. That is, who to target their embouchure cut to. I have actually wondered about this myself. Should I strive to make a flute that is easy for a beginner to play? Or should I aim for an embouchure cut that appeals to as wide a range of players as possible? Or should I try to make the best instrument I can for a (specific?) professional player? And if I'm going to do this, how do I do the fine tuning if I don't have that professional player around to test and give incremental feedback? And would such a flute work well for a wide range of professional players or just the person I worked with? Would beginners find the flute easy or hard to play? There are many unknown, and unknowable, elements to this puzzle.

My personal approach is to try to make flutes that play as well as possible "for me". In doing so, I compare my flutes with those made by other makers (the best flutes I can get my hands on, both modern and antique) and I try to make a flute that sounds as good, and responds as well, or better, "for me". Even taking this restricted approach requires many variables to be pinned down and takes a very long time. How will my flutes ultimately be received by others? I have no way of knowing. I hope that some people will like them, but I fully expect that some will not. Some will find them easy to play and some will not. I am fine with that, and I have the luxury of not having to compromise due to the financial constraints of having to make my living by selling flutes. Practice voicing and tuning will not change any of these issues, but it might help me achieve a higher degree of consistency across flutes. Automating my production would likely do even better in terms of consistency, but I'm not really motivated by that. Alternatively, I could just throw out the flutes I am not happy with and release only a few that have passed my quality control test. Depending on which strategy I take, an increase in the number of flutes I produce will not necessarily have a positive or a negative effect on their quality.

As for Chris Wilkes, there is overwhelming evidence that he can make instruments that sounds superb in the hands of the right players. In fact, some of the best flute music I have ever heard was produced using his instruments. The fact that some people have found his flutes to be difficult to play is neither evidence of inconsistency among his flutes, nor that he requires more practice in tuning and voicing flutes, or that such practice would change the outcome. I see no reason to doubt that he is producing flutes that behave exactly as he intends them to.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:33 am 
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I think you are spot on @Paddler, most makers make flute that they can play well, and what else could they do? Some makers seem to believe in quality over quantity and others, well maybe not as much. What makes a great instrument is a matter of personal taste, however there are some other factors that can be measured without personal tastes.

From a purely economical point of view, when you buy (any instrument) a flute, have you lost money or not as you receive your flute? I dare say that when you receive your Wilkes flute (or Olwell etc.), and you do not like it, well, you have made about 2000$ selling it, as with some other makers, the day your flute is in your hand, it has lost 1/4 of its value. I am not saying it is a good fact, but none the less, it is.

Reading the argument of Casey Burns on how it is all a tale of the emperor with no cloths, I do wonder why bother with it. One of you makes more flute than people can play at quite low prices (not saying a thing about value...) and the other makes flutes that he enjoys making at a rate that suits him. You two are not selling flutes to the same people, so why the bitterness??

As for the argument of tuning and voicing more flutes, making you a better maker...Well, it sounds a bit like McDonalds claiming to be a better cook than a chef because he makes more food.

Maybe, one should focus on the quality of an instrument, and, let me ask you Mister Burns, do you feel like you have ever made a great flute?

One that will be played long after you have stopped making instrument?

A flute that will be so desired that it's worth will far exceed it's original cost?

I guess the bitterness might come from the answer to that question.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:50 am 
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Heh heh, careful, Paddler, or you too will be accused of blowing your own trumpet. And deviating from the script.

But let me jump in and agree with you. I don't think a maker has much practical option other than to make flutes that satisfy themselves. For all the reasons you quote.

(Now don't I remember Seamus Ennis telling a story about a piper who caught a leprechaun, and was therefore entitled to a wish, and wished that he was the best piper? But the leprechaun came back and said do you want to play music that satisfies yourself, or music that satisfies others? Woah! These leprechauns are tough negotiators! I don't remember how the story closes. Hopefully there was some room for compromise....)

And the great thing is that, providing we have a reasonable number of makers, and that the laws of probability apply fairly, we should between us be able to satisfy most of the players out there. As Jim Stone put it so neatly earlier: "Surely we are blessed to have all these wonderful instruments, which so enrich our lives." And to speak on behalf of the makers, what a privilege it is for us to be part of the musical food chain. Whatever part of the food chain we choose to serve.

Now we'll know when we are going wrong, because vast numbers of our unused and unloved flutes will start mounting up in warehouses somewhere. Haven't noticed it happening so far, so let's keep doing what we're doing! And well!


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:54 am 
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Now, I'm reminded that I haven't mentioned that I stayed a couple of days with Chris Wilkes and Jenny back in 2002, during my Self-Indulgent Flute-makers Tour. At "The Old School", Leominster, Herefordshire. (Pronounced Lemster, by the locals, incidentally.)

I think Chris and I quickly worked out that we had little in common, but that's not a bad outcome on a fact-finding tour. You don't want to go halfway round the world just to meet yourself! Our flutes were very different, as were our methods for making them. Chris really reveled in restoring and using his old machines; I was more interested in results. Chris persevered with hand forging keys, while I had already gone to casting, as had the 19th century makers. Chris seemed quite unphased by his large backlog and his (apparently) low productivity - I saw no flutes-in-progress in the workshop, which seemed strangely quiet, almost disused - whereas I and others we've heard from recently find a large backlog oppressive. No problem with any of this, horses for courses. But interesting.

What really gobsmacked me then, and stays with me still, was Jenny's basket-making. She grows and harvests willow, and weaves it into baskets of great elegance and beauty. Gorgeous.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:45 am 
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"As for Chris Wilkes, there is overwhelming evidence that he can make instruments that sounds superb in the hands of the right players. In fact, some of the best flute music I have ever heard was produced using his instruments. The fact that some people have found his flutes to be difficult to play is neither evidence of inconsistency among his flutes, nor that he requires more practice in tuning and voicing flutes, or that such practice would change the outcome. I see no reason to doubt that he is producing flutes that behave exactly as he intends them to." Paddler.

I agree. In an old C&F thread "Willkes??" from 2003. Andrew Kirby, amongst other things a Rudall & Rose enthusiast, wrote:
"Chris Wilkes is a rather private person ,who has not looked for any publicity. He does not worry about charging what inferior makers feel justified in asking. His only concern is to get the next flute just as good as it can be. He has no interest in what people think of his work - if they do not like it or more likely cannot use what it has to offer the more experienced blower he doesn't mind. He is working for posterity. He is presently mulling over bores- mellow v bright. You are looking at a tiny difference in the reaming."

Chris's flutes will suit some and not suit others.

To sum up - if you can't be bothered to get your embouchure sorted out, for whatever reason, then you may not be comfortable with a Wilkes flute, or say a 19th century Rudall & Rose. On the other hand if you work on developing your embouchure then it stands to reason that you will probably get a good sound out of any flute.

Terry McGee has indeed completely lost the plot, regarding this thread concerning Wilkes flutes, whereas Paddler has some very good and relevant points


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:13 am 
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Ha ha, good one, Steampacket.

"To sum up - if you can't be bothered to get your embouchure sorted out, for whatever reason, then you may not be comfortable with a Wilkes flute, or say a 19th century Rudall & Rose. On the other hand if you work on developing your embouchure then it stands to reason that you will probably get a good sound out of any flute. "

You conveniently forget that some people do not have the capacity to "sort out" their embouchure to the extent that they can play a difficult flute. Some cannot "sort out" their embouchure to play any flute at all. It is our privilege as makers to try to give them flutes they can manage. To try to help them "over the hump" of learning. Maybe to go no further. Maybe to go on to great things. We don't know. Only time will tell.

And you, and others maintaining this theme, have not yet proven that there is anything to be gained by "sorting out your embouchure" to the extent you can play a difficult flute. There presumably must be some advantage, you might argue, or people wouldn't try. But that's presumption, not science.

C'mon, we can do better than this! You've had an experience - a flute you found unapproachable is now yielding results you are enjoying. That's great news! You've been moved to raise this in a public forum. Some of the responses you have received (Casey's and mine clearly included) were not what you expected. Ignore us! But don't throw babies out with bathwater. Refocus the discussion. Draw together what you have so far found valuable and restate it. Challenge us to try to explain in maker terms what you are experiencing in player terms.

You quoted the late Andrew Kirby (he and I were long term communicators). Andrew was not a scientific person and was easily misled by hype. Hype gets us nowhere. Let's get down to some science here. Otherwise we are all wasting our time.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:15 am 
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Terry, you and Casey are like two jealous old men nattering on. Who cares if Chris Wilkes and yourself have "little in common" or that your flutes " were very different". Chris' working methods, contra your own backlog anxiety in 2002 have nothing to do with getting the best out of a Wilkes flute.

I don't think this thread which concerns the playing of Wilkes flutes is enhanced by your personal opinion of Chris Wilkes' working habits, or what you think of his productivity back in 2002. Perhaps you can desist as you apparently have nothing relevant to say


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:28 am 
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Wow! Lots of emotion this week. Personal feelings and quasi-technical explanations for what, I think, is common sense: not everybody’s mouth is exactly the same.

I have a Casey Burns large hole. Love it!

I have played Dave Migoya’s Olwell collection- loved all of them.

I have played Brett Lipshutz’s Wilkes- it was brilliant.

I play an antique Peloubet 8- key. Love it!

I have played a Gallagher Bb. Truly phenomenal instrument.

As the saying goes...”Which is the best sounding instrument in the world?”

Answer: “The one you practice for two hours a day!”

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Student: "Teacher, what's the best sounding flute in the world?"
Teacher: "The one you practice for two hours a day."


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