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 Post subject: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:41 pm 
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I’m loving my transition from whistle to flute so much that I’ve already started looking into progressing from delrin to wood, and getting at least 2 keys, possibly 4. I have a couple of questions.
Here’s a quote taken from Hammy Hamilton’s site: “The second F natural key ( the long F) allows the player to go directly from D to F natural, a move which occurs fairly often in traditional music, and which is impossible with only the short F.”
Is this accurate? I can’t personally think of a tune that does this. If I end up with just a short f and a g#key, will I actually be likely to encounter much of an issue not having a long f?
Second question, as best as I can tell the Bb key is played with the left thumb, correct? I feel like I’d have difficulty with that since my left thumb provides a lot of support in holding the flute in place. Does this mean I’m holding it wrong?


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:50 pm 
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The left thumb covers the Bb key but does minimal work in holding
the flute. One way to practice is to review your grip and then
play with the left thumb hanging. Doing this occasionally helps.
If you can't play with the left thumb dangling, your grip needs
attention.


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:13 am 
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Certainly sounds like I’m doing something wrong then. So does most of the support come from the right thumb?


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:11 am 
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Thomaston wrote:
Here’s a quote taken from Hammy Hamilton’s site: “The second F natural key ( the long F) allows the player to go directly from D to F natural, a move which occurs fairly often in traditional music, and which is impossible with only the short F.”

It's not impossible, but most people could probably do it more fluently with a long F. I can't use a long F, so have a short F set up to facilitate it.

Quote:
If I end up with just a short f and a g#key, will I actually be likely to encounter much of an issue not having a long f?

I don't think you need a long F, but wouldn't get a keyed flute without an Eb. And, if you're getting the Eb, you might as well have a standard four-key with Bb even though most flutes will produce a usable forked Bb.

Quote:
Second question, as best as I can tell the Bb key is played with the left thumb, correct? I feel like I’d have difficulty with that since my left thumb provides a lot of support in holding the flute in place. Does this mean I’m holding it wrong?

You should be able to hold it securely between the lower lip, base of left index finger and right thumb. Search for three-point hold or Rockstro grip/hold, but don't grip anything!

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 6:14 am 
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Using the base of my index finger makes sense now that I’m doing it, but will take some getting used to. I certainly would not have thought to hold it that way on my own. Using both thumbs as support feels more natural, but I guess I better start retraining myself!


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:24 am 
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Another widely used option.

Hold the flute at three points. Your lips, the fulcrum provided by the base of your left
index, and the rt pinky pressing to the rt of the low D hole. Thumbs are off the flute.
You should do this
until you are secure with the three pt grip--it's all you need to secure the flute.

THEN gently add the thumbs, which do minimal work in holding the flute, and of course
the fingers that close the holes, which do no work. If you go this route, start your practice
by practicing this hold and, if you ever find yourself uncomfortable or gripping too hard,
return to it and start again.

This is an alternative to using the rt thumb to hold the flute, which a number of us can't
do very well, though it certainly is used a lot. This way I've mentioned-- the pinky, fulcrum. lips hold the flute, and thumbs are added last and do minimal work. A number of teachers teach this method as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:53 am 
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I play with my thumb resting and steadying the flute, positioned in front of the Bb key (as in the videos below) - when needed it's just a case of rolling the thumb slightly onto the key. I was shown this in a Milltown flute workshop by Marcas Ó Murchú many moons ago.

I've never seen a trad flute player not use their (Bb) thumb as a support of some sort, certainly not flapping about in the wind. Just be careful not to grip the flute with it.

Nicholson advocating using (pressing) the LH thumb against the flute:-

"As this position of the instrument will be found somewhat difficult, it may in a great measure be relieved by pressing the thumb of the left hand on the second joint of the flute, just above the Bb key" - http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Nicholson_on_Tone.htm

Brid O'Gorman - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkaMPUj3Wsk

Tara Diamond - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT-T8ENAj8U

Steph Geremia - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goCd1mEWsWs (useful for holding and embouchure)


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:10 pm 
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Just to be clear we are describing the same grip as far as the left hand is concerned. The exercise with the thumbs off, which I described at the beginning, is merely an exercise meant to avoid gripping the flute with the thumb. One starts with it and returns to it when one gets tense. The end product is what you describe for the left thumb. Nobody is suggesting that one play in general with the left thumb dangling.

There are differences in the rt hand, however, some using the rt thumb to press against the flute, others
doing that with the rt pinky and using the rt thumb to do minimal work. Again, if you are using the pinky (as I do) you return to the thumbless position as an exercise to avoid a 'death grip' when it arises.


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:40 pm 
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To the original question about keys; I followed your same path. I could live with only Eb and F (see below), but I would recommend skipping straight to six keys. I guess for salability reasons if nothing else. Personally, I never use the C-nat key, nor the short F (a friend of mine never uses the long F, so it depends on the person).

Useful Accidentals:
For most of ITM music, you don't need to be fully chromatic, but a lot of tunes use accidentals. As noted, with forked fingering you can play a good C-nat, a passable Bb, and perhaps G#. Eb is nigh-on impossible, and F-nat is difficult.

So my bare minimum would be Eb and F (F-long for me).

You can hit all accidentals with 4 keys: G#, F, Eb, Bb, at which point you are fully chromatic.

Key Signatures:
The key of A and the key of C become much easier with G# and F keys. A lot of fiddlers like the key of A. I sometimes run into tunes I want to learn the key of C.

I never needed the Bb key until one day I met a tune in F that I just had to learn. That forced me to start fixing my left-hand death grip.

C-foot
A C-foot not considered necessary for ITM, and it's a lot more expensive. My flute came with it, and it is definitely satisfying to have the low C note available when you want it.


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:45 am 
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As far as keys go I would recommend a six key as well but I consider the Eb/D# essential if I had to pick.

Which keys are used depends not only on the player but the tunes played at your local session. I recently moved to Coos Bay from Seattle and different tunes are standard here. I used to use the keys very little but I find there are a few tunes played here at every session that have a D# in them and I am grateful to have the key for it. Quite often it is in the B part and for that I just leave it down to vent the other fingerings getting me used to using it for that as well. Once I got used to using the keys more I find I use the C natural key a lot as well. I use the cross fingered C natural as well depending on the run, sometimes both in the same tune. I use it for B rolls and on some runs. I use the short F natural occasionally and the long one even less but I am sure a tune will come up that finds me using it more someday. The short F key on my flute has a roller on it and I find it very convenient, especially since I have gotten used to it being there. I personally never use the Bb or the G#, yet. It is probably best not to choose a flute only for the tunes you know but for the use on future tunes and no one can predict your future needs.

Can you hit these notes well without keys? Yes except for the D# which on my flute is not a good clear note. Once you get used to the keys you will not want to go back since the notes are easier to hit and they are more clear and easier to hit quickly and in tune. As you can see from the responses different players find themselves using different keys so it is personal. If you are going to go down the road to spend the money on keys I believe it would be good in the long run to get one with six keys. I would either get a flute with a Eb/D# key, six keys or eight keys. I was going to say a six key flute and leave it at that but if I had an eight key flute I would probably find myself using them and I would have to eat crow on that statement.

Keys have not only made my life easier but have enabled me to play tunes that I would normally sit out for when they are played up to speed. I don't mind sitting out for tunes but I do not want the decision made for me by my flute.


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:59 pm 
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Go straight to 6 or 8 keys, get fingering charts, learn to use them. Make a point of learning tunes which require them. You can buy a very decent antique 8-key flute in playing condition for not much more than a top grade keyless by a highly rated modern maker. Definitely sort your hold/support out.

https://youtu.be/lssGAtVBS_8

https://youtu.be/GruFY6ULlpc

These may also be useful:
https://youtu.be/JuOmrAVzhDg
https://youtu.be/tRDcYgJIOiM

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:19 pm 
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It is funny how the most common keys can vary from one session to another. I’d have to say that f and g# are the most common locally, with Eb least common.
Anyway, thanks for the comments. I’ll get my grip sorted so that the Bb key won’t be trouble if I go that route.


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:17 am 
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The Bb key is easy once you have a solid grip and the left thumb is free.


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:00 pm 
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My first keyed flute was a 5 key and I longed for a long F key and found myself moving from a 5 to a 6 then an 8. I seldom use the low keys, but if I had gotten them sooner I might have worked them into my playing. I'd say get as many keys as you can afford on a decent flute. You can be happy with no keys or some keys or all the keys. I've known excellent players who stop at a keyless flute and are quite happy.


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding keys
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:45 am 
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Having come from trying to play my boehm flute, I'm enjoying the simplicity of the six holers, & I can play some of my tunes on my simple piccolo already.
(My low D is another story, but I think it is more to do with the hole spacing of the bottom three holes, so I've ordered a delrin flute with offset holes.)
I used to play recorders, so a little bit of half holing doesn't seem to be a problem for me, but we are all different.
The problem I see with adding keys is that you will need to learn a different fingering pattern.
If you stick with keyless, you can jump back & forth between your flute & whistles without thinking.

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