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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:38 pm 
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Hi gang,

I have some idea, but was wondering if those with more ensemble experience than I could summarize uses for the “other than D” keys of flutes. Mainly Eb, C, and low Bb.

Like, for Eb, does everyone just tune up a half step?

I believe C is for playing with certain uilleann pipes, but correct me if I’m wrong.

And Bb is lovely for slow airs, but is everyone else transposing?

And what on earth is the F flute used for, other than being fun to play?

Thanks,
RVH


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:43 am 
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For the same reason other instruments come in different keys, makes it easier to play in other keys. :)

If you regularly play in the key of D, for instance, & you need to play in the key of C, you just pick up a key of C instrument & play it as you would on your key of D instrument, but it will actually be in the key of C, with your same fingering.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:50 am 
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There's song accompaniment too, any jobbing musician will find themselves accompanying singers that use a variety of keys but rarely keys that work well on a D flute. Musicians that only play in sessions probably won't need such a variety of flutes but surely most people end up in bands. There's the "Band Flute" set that can use Bb, F, Eb and low Bb to play the harmony parts too. I wouldn't feel right without one of each (maybe foregoing the Bb fife) in concert pitch of course...

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:23 am 
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I would say it's not just about the ease of fingering, it's also about playing in keys that bring out the best qualities of your flute.

Sure, on a D flute with 6 or 8 keys you can play tunes in any key. But imagine a tune that lands frequently on the bottom note (D on a D flute) and you want that strong bottom D to ring out, and now imagine you're playing in a C session where everyone's playing that tune in C. Sure you can play it on your D flute, but it's not going to sound anywhere near as strong as it would if you used a C flute with the same fingering as you used on the D flute.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:48 am 
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I believe you are right about the Eb flute. In Eb sessions, everyone tunes up a half step, to make the sound livelier. Whistle players obviously use an Eb whistle. I don’t know about accordion players and other fixed pitch instruments... :-?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:12 am 
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If one sticks solely to Irish Music, playing in these other keys will be a rarity except at the occasional session, music camp, Irish Piper's gatherings where sessions in lower pitches happen, etc.

Even so, playing these different pitches assists in the development and flexibility of one's embouchure. Sometimes its simply relaxing (and fun) to play on a low flute - then experience the difference playing back in D and feeling like one is driving a Hot Rod.

And then, one can strive to become great at it - Matt Molloy, Grey Larsen and John Skelton all play low flutes (actually they all play low flutes that I made them). Here is an example of John playing his: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtbKZ830yEE

Other world musics find these other keys useful. Today I hope to finish a 3-keyed flute with rings and slides in Eb. My client is in a jazz combo featuring instruments that play easily in the flat keys such as brasswinds and saxes. He also plays Celtic music.

Much Galician Music is notated in D but played on pipes in C. Flutes in C are occasionally used but more commonly a smaller flute in G (with a corresponding one in F for Bb pipes) called a Requinta is played an octave above the pipes. I am about to go to Lark Camp with a 2 day Gaita/Requinta seminar just after and will be playing these types of flutes for several hours each day. The best example of these F flutes being played can be seen in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrTCd03XH1o. This is my favorite Galician group!

Casey

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:40 am 
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I think one reason for the low flutes is to add variety in live performances or recordings, so the tune sets aren't so similar in pitch and timbre.

Low flutes can be used for airs, but also as a way to play slowed-down versions of tunes normally played as reels. For example, Kevin Crawford's version of "Bag of Spuds" on his "In Good Company" album. Sylvain Barou plays a lovely slow-ish version of "Cat that Ate the Candle" on a Bb flute on his latest album "Last Days Off Fall." I think he also uses it on the "Wounded Hussar" air on the same album. One or two tracks in an unexpected low pitch makes for a nice change when listening to the full albums, so it's not just endless D flutery.

I've been listening to those particular tunes on those albums lately. It's giving me a strong urge to pick up a Bb flute one of these days. It would be useless in a session because nobody wants to play in Bb or G dorian, but fun to fool around with at home.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 11:29 am 
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Conical bore wrote:
Low flutes can be used for airs, but also as a way to play slowed-down versions of tunes normally played as reels.


... They can also be used for playing tunes at a normal speed. That's what I do...


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:18 pm 
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In recent weeks I have seen a lot of flutes in all sorts of keys being played. I don't really see what's the fuss about, you just play them, if the context is appropriate.

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Eamonn O'Riordan, playing an F flute, Conor Connolly, accordion

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:33 pm 
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Or if you like them, you make the context for them.

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/jessesmithseangavinjohnb


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 3:19 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
In recent weeks I have seen a lot of flutes in all sorts of keys being played. I don't really see what's the fuss about, you just play them, if the context is appropriate.

Image

Eamonn O'Riordan, playing an F flute, Conor Connolly, accordion



No fuss, just wondering which contexts these different keys tend to work well for...


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:05 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2018 11:02 am 
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Probably reiterating bits of what others have said: the main interest in other-tonality flutes is their different timbres/tone colours, for their own sake and for variety, playing normal tunes on them with the same fingering as on D flute. Next is their use to accompany songs and other things (tunes, instruments) in tonalities or with ranges which are awkward on D flute.

Note that for playing along with "Eb" and "Bb" saxophones you need F and C flutes/whistles (Eb and Bb transpositions) to play at pitch from the same notation.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2018 11:31 am 
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Quote:
Or if you like them, you make the context for them.

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/jessesmithseangavinjohnb


Spot on.

And coincidentally, as you mention them, a few hours ago in Galway:

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Microphones poking in people's faces are the bane of my life. Seán Gavin did play the F flute for one selection.

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Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Sun Jul 22, 2018 3:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2018 5:53 pm 
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This is the next frontier for me, after the pending move from keyless to keyed D flute. I have too many favorite tracks and live shows where I've heard what a low flute can do.


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