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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 11:57 am 
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Can anyone give me point by point lists of benefits for each? Research only reveals very technical posts that don't emphasise benefits!

Thank you.

K.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:07 pm 
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Based on my limited/imperfect understanding...

I'd say the main benefits of a conical-bore flute are:

1. If you're playing a simple-system flute, a conical-bore flute will be easier to play in terms of finger stretch and the ability to cover all the holes.
2. A conical-bore flute's tone arguably has more intrinsic character (i.e., the flute has its own voice, only a portion of which the player can control) than that of a cylindrical-bore flute. I see that as a benefit; others see it as a drawback. This is due to several factors -- perturbations in the bore, the need for the player to "lip up" or "lip down" certain notes to bring them into tune, etc.

And I'd say the main benefits of a cylindrical-bore flute are:

1. The toneholes may be placed closer to their "acoustically correct" positions, making the flute more in tune with itself. In the case of Boehm-system flutes, the toneholes can in fact be placed so that the flute is perfectly in tune; if you tried to do that with a simple-system cylindrical flute it would be hard for most people to play because the toneholes would be large and spread awkwardly far apart.
2. The cylindrical-bore flute's tone is more like a blank slate, giving the player a more complete degree of control over the sound; the flute itself doesn't impose as much of its own personality.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 3:40 pm 
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I'm grateful for your clarification. Never had this explained so clearly! Thank you.

Can you explain a little more about what you mean when you say, " ... the (conical) flute has its own voice, only a portion of which the player can control"?

Best wishes,

Keith.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:37 pm 
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bradhurley wrote:
1. The toneholes may be placed closer to their "acoustically correct" positions, making the flute more in tune with itself. In the case of Boehm-system flutes, the toneholes can in fact be placed so that the flute is perfectly in tune; if you tried to do that with a simple-system cylindrical flute it would be hard for most people to play because the toneholes would be large and spread awkwardly far apart.


Small quibble: That is a benefit of the Boehm (or at least non-simple-system) flute, not cylindrical bores in general. A simple-system cylindrical flute such as a Tipple or bamboo flute, requires the LH3 and RH3 holes to be very high and consequently small.

Also, I'm not sure I'd say that a Boehm flute offers more of a variety of sound than a conical flute with an elliptical embouchure, especially a Rudall-style. I would say that the conical, simple-system flute has an intrinsic sound that's "warmer", and a Boehm-style that's purer. Or, maybe, to use terms that are even more nebulous (but actually more specific acoustically), rounded-vs-squarer. I think some of this is the rectangular embouchure of the Boehm flute (I've never seen one with an elliptical embouchure, although they may exist).

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:16 pm 
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chas wrote:
Also, I'm not sure I'd say that a Boehm flute offers more of a variety of sound than a conical flute with an elliptical embouchure, especially a Rudall-style. I would say that the conical, simple-system flute has an intrinsic sound that's "warmer", and a Boehm-style that's purer. Or, maybe, to use terms that are even more nebulous (but actually more specific acoustically), rounded-vs-squarer. I think some of this is the rectangular embouchure of the Boehm flute (I've never seen one with an elliptical embouchure, although they may exist).


Thanks, I didn't really mean that you can get a greater variety of sounds from a Boehm flute, more that it's hard-to-impossible to escape the built-in character of a conical-bore flute. I look at it as more of a partnership or perhaps a tug-of-war than a master-servant relationship. With the Boehm flute, the flute player has a greater influence over tone and timbre, whereas with conical-bore flutes the voice of the flute itself has continual influence. At least that's the impression I've developed over the years, although I have only a little experience playing Boehm-system flutes; it's more from discussions with flute players who play both systems.

It's kind of like preamps used in recording music: some people prefer a perfectly clean, uncolored preamp so they can add whatever color and warmth they want themselves through EQ and effects, whereas others prefer preamps that have intrinsic coloring and warmth. Oddly enough I prefer uncolored preamps but prefer "colored" flutes...probably because that's what I'm used to. I like a flute that pushes back and maintains its voice.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:35 pm 
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Conical bore changes the way the sound waves travel versus a cylinder. Gives you a different tonal quality. Subtle, but present. Others can expand more on this. Think saxophone versus clarinet. The former is tapered and the latter conical. Flute is not as pronounced die to having an open air cylinder.

I believe also that the taper helps with intonation in the second octave.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:35 pm 
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There are a lot of variables that tend to complicate this comparison. First, conical bore flutes are rarely strictly conical (i.e., its not a straight taper). In reality, they tend to have various irregularities in the bore profile. These allow some control over placement and size of tone holes, which allows ergonomic concerns to be addressed on simple system flutes whose tone holes might otherwise be difficult for normal people to cover. The combination of bore perturbations, variations in tone hole size and position, gives various notes their own distinct sound and gives the flute's voice a kind of accent. This accent is sometimes referred to as character. In Irish music people tend to like it, but historically many people complained about it as a deficiency of flutes for classic music (hence the invention of the Boehm flute). But my main point is that it is also possible to make a simple system cylindrical flute with bore perturbations and trade-offs in tone hole size and position, but not many people actually do this in practice. In fact, I've only ever seen cylindrical bore flutes that use a regular cylinder in the body.

The issue of keeping the various registers in tune with each other can be addressed on a cylindrical headed flute by using a tapered body bore, as our Irish flutes do. On a cylindrical bodied flute it can be addressed by using a tapered head bore (often referred to as a parabolic head) as Boehm flutes do. If you use a cylindrical head and body you will not be able to keep notes in tune across registers, especially as you go to higher notes. But I don't think its really fair to compare such flutes with conical bore flutes. A fairer comparison would be to compare a cylindrical body, tapered head, simple system, wooden flute with a conical bore Irish flute. However, there are not many of these around.

Another variable is bore size. For both conical bore cylindrical head flutes and cylindrical bore conical head flutes, a larger bore size will tend to give a bigger sound, and take more air. So when you do such a comparison you have to make sure you are comparing equivalent bore sizes.

Geoffrey Ellis and I have spent the last several years exploring some of these trade-offs with the idea of making an inexpensive, single piece, simple system Irish flute with a cylindrical bore, a tapered head and the kind of embouchure cut you would find on a typical Irish flute. Geoffrey has made dozens of prototypes, and I've tested many of them for him. The most persistent difference I have noticed across all of these prototypes is that the cylindrical body flutes tend to have a bigger sound, but require more air, have tone holes that are slightly more spread apart, and slightly larger, than on conical bore Irish flutes. I also tend to notice that there is less push-back in terms of air pressure in the cylindrical bore flutes than conical bore flutes. This gives them a somewhat different feel to play. Some of these differences might go away by introducing the appropriate perturbations in the bore, but we haven't tried this.

Despite these differences, I can attest that it is possible to make a really great sounding simple system flute with a cylindrical bore body and a tapered head. Geoffrey has done this and I believe he is on the verge of finally releasing these flutes, and will likely have pictures, sound recordings, and other info on his website in the near future. I will leave it to him to provide more details about this.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 5:07 am 
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paddler wrote:
Despite these differences, I can attest that it is possible to make a really great sounding simple system flute with a cylindrical bore body and a tapered head. Geoffrey has done this and I believe he is on the verge of finally releasing these flutes, and will likely have pictures, sound recordings, and other info on his website in the near future. I will leave it to him to provide more details about this.


A few flute makers have experimented with this over the years. I tried a prototype by one maker in the early 1990s. It had a parabolic headjoint and cylindrical bore, and a massive sound. What I remember most was that the toneholes were quite large and fairly far apart. I could play it, as I have fairly large hands and long fingers, but I remember finding it hard to completely cover some of the holes because they were so big. It sounded impressive, though!


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:45 am 
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Benefits to cylindrical flutes (usually Boehm-style):
Homogeneous timbre.
Louder.
Certain ease of manufacture (main tone holes can be the same size, pads, etc.).
Brightness of tone.
Mostly open-standing keys.
High register somewhat easier to play.

Benefits to conical flutes (inverse cone):
Warmness of tone.
Easier for fingers to reach toneholes.
Ability to cross-finger notes. There may be a corresponding change in timbre compared to adjacent notes.
More back-pressure/resistance.
Might be considered by some to be more comfortable in the hands due to an outside taper.


Another resource:
https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... ern_flutes
OR
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jo ... flutes.pdf

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 11:19 am 
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I'm impressed with the thoughtfulness and experience of the answers to this question and have come to the conclusion based on these answers that you choose the type of flute that suits you best in terms of playing comfort, volume, and appreciation of perceived tone. (Plus in my case, as long as the flute's Delrin or PVC).

I'm only puzzled that the size and placing of my cylinderical flute's tone holes practically match my conical flutes.

And the question arises, how will the benefits of my cylinderical flute compare with Master Ellis's exciting newcomer? Are we to expect a unique selling proposition in this conical Ellis flute?

Thank you again for your time, which is much appreciated.

Keith.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 2:51 pm 
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keithsandra wrote:
And the question arises, how will the benefits of my cylinderical flute compare with Master Ellis's exciting newcomer? Are we to expect a unique selling proposition in this conical Ellis flute?


In the past I've made a great many cylindrical bore flutes, and of course the problem was always as Paddler described: the tuning of the second octave would get progressively flat as you climbed the scale. There is no cure for it on this type of flute. The only exception I've discovered is the Indian bansuri. It has a cylindrical bore, but by making thin walls, large finger holes, a large diameter bore for the key, and placing the stopper very close to the embouchure, the second octave tuning is surprisingly accurate. But for these smaller bored flutes styled for playing ITM, the tuning is an issue.

That was how I came to spend so many years trying to perfect a simple, cylindrical flute that would not have these issues. In the end, you can't defy physics and so I started experimenting with the parabolic taper in the head. The reason for even trying was that I wanted a one-piece flute that would be easier to produce and make affordable, but I also wanted it to have the performance characteristics that would appeal to a wide spectrum of different players. I was already developing a line of headjoints for Boehm flutes so it made sense to use the tools and techniques on these flutes.

Of course nothing will make these flutes behave like a conical bore flute, but they do have really nice characteristics that are unique to them (described above by Paddler, my long-suffering collaborator on Irish flutes of various kinds).

There were many occasions where I almost gave up, but I was motivated (I would say relentlessly driven) by a gift that was given to me. Years ago, a friend gave me one of Pat Olwell's bamboo D flutes. As everyone knows, his bamboo flutes are exceptionally good to begin with. However, by mere blind luck I was given one that was exceptional even among his normally exceptional flutes. I'm still in awe of this flute. Pat clearly selected the most perfect piece of bamboo that had just the right amount of natural taper in the head, and a body whose bore dimensions were just what they needed to be. Of course the bore defied measurement because it was not a true cylinder. More of a flaring oval bore of sorts. Anyway, it was so good, and the intonation was so amazingly accurate, that I spent about six years trying to figure out it's secrets. I've made well over a hundred flutes in pursuit of this "Holy Grail" of one-piece flutes. In the end, I figured it out, and that was quite recently--just a couple of months ago.

The experience of playing these types of flutes is certainly different from playing a conical bore flute, but a good player will make them sound amazing. To demonstrate, here are a couple of samples of Blayne Chastain (owner of the Irish Flute Store) playing some low airs on my D and Eflat flutes.

https://soundcloud.com/earth-tone-flutes/d-amhran-na-leabhar
https://soundcloud.com/earth-tone-flutes/blayne-chastain-plays-eb-inis-oirr-key-of-eflat

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:44 pm 
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Wow! The sound is commanding. The simple system conical flute sound stands alone, I can see that now. I can also see folk wanting both types to play according to the mood demanded by the tune or how they're feeling ...

If I buy one of these flutes I'll never have an excuse for playing the way I do now. But how much are they anyway?

Do they come in anything but wood?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 4:33 pm 
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Quote:
Do they come in anything but wood?


Geoffrey makes flutes from delrin and ebonite, but he is also a pioneer in the use of vacuum resin infusion techniques for making flutes from wood that are basically impervious and maintenance free. So, basically, you don't need to forego the beauty and feel of a wooden flute in order to get the stability and low maintenance of a delrin one. You can learn more about his vacuum resin infusion process here:

http://ellisflutes.com/blog/vacuum-resin-infusion-part-1
http://ellisflutes.com/blog/vacuum-resin-infusion-part-2


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 4:58 pm 
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keithsandra wrote:
Wow! The sound is commanding. The simple system conical flute sound stands alone, I can see that now. I can also see folk wanting both types to play according to the mood demanded by the tune or how they're feeling ...

If I buy one of these flutes I'll never have an excuse for playing the way I do now. But how much are they anyway?

Do they come in anything but wood?


As you gathered from Paddler's reply, I do use other materials. At this point I make them from various woods (including some resin-stabilized maples and curly maples), delrin and ebonite. These flutes are new so they are not yet on my website (in fact my entire website is being remodeled and will go online this month with a new look). I sell them for $300 unless I make them from some of the colored ebonites which are quite costly. That will add about $50 to the price. Black ebonite does not cost extra.

I'm a huge fan of ebonite and it's becoming a major feature of my flute making. I'm starting to make the Ellis Irish Flute (a Pratten-style, tunable, conical bore flute) from ebonite as well, giving players another option. And I make any of my flutes from Delrin upon request.

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Last edited by Geoffrey Ellis on Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:08 am 
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keithsandra wrote:
I'm only puzzled that the size and placing of my cylinderical flute's tone holes practically match my conical flutes.

Heh heh, there's a really good reason for that. They are about as far apart as a normal mortal will want to reach. Remember all "simple-system" flutes are a compromise on tone-hole spacing. If they weren't, the holes would be a lot more similar in size.

(McGee-flutes Genetic Division is working on breeding a new sub-species of humanoid optimised for simple-system flute playing. You'll spot them easily once released. Their knuckles drag in the dust.....)

I've done some playing with the Cylinder bore, e.g: Image

You can see how the hole sizes vary just as our usual conical flutes vary. And, for the same reasons. Because they are so much smaller than the Boehm flute's holes, we still get a lot darker tone than the keyed Boehm's.

Geoffrey & Paddler, looking forward to hearing more about your work. So much more to be done with flutes!


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