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 Post subject: In search of reedy tone
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 4:59 pm 
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Over the years my tone has become better. I remember when I first started playing Irish flute I would get nervous and literally lose any tone and be reduced to making a hissing sound. So I took a couple lessons from a veteran player and it got better. He basically taught me to really reduce the opening in the lips to a very thin rectangle, to keep the flute pressed firmly into the place where bottom lip meets the skin, and to focus the air.

But I do remember another guy who insisted in "turning down the corners of the lips" . That never really helped. I'm still seeking that strong reedy tone, and I never get all the way there, maybe like 80%.

Are there any other approaches to try? I mean besides just experimenting.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:28 pm 
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When conversations about reedy flute tone come up, this article is often linked: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Getting_the ... k_tone.htm.

For me personally, a couple tips from the article seem to help: turning the embouchure hole more towards you and thinking about blowing down into the flute for the lower octave.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:30 pm 
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The Terry McGee article linked above was the first place I found any info on this (thanks Terry!). I'm only an "advancing" player and I'm a bit reluctant to give advice, but I'll do it anyway. :wink:

Here's what I think helps in getting that tone, after careful study of the info on that link:

Don't be shy about "driving" the flute with a powerful air pressure. You don't want to overdrive the bottom D because it shifts into the second octave fairly easily (at least on my flute). Getting the hard bottom D is mainly a question of how you blow into the embouchure, just barely edging into those extra harmonics, not how hard you blow. For the rest of the first octave notes, I think it helps to aggressively "fill" the flute with a strong air pressure without jumping to the second octave. That generates more harmonics than a more sedate approach to air pressure, where you get a sweeter tone.

This idea of blowing strong enough to generate extra harmonics mainly applies to the first octave. It's easy for us learners to overdrive the second octave, and I think there's a limit to how "reedy" a tone you can get up there anyway. I tend to push hard on the first octave and back off on the second.

Standard disclaimers about how this may be different on different flutes, etc.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:26 pm 
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Sometimes it's us, sometimes it's our flute. Get a player that has the tone you admire to give your flute a test drive. Some flutes are better at that "reedy" tone than others. If they can get the sound your are looking for out of your instrument that tells you to focus on your technique. If they can't you may need to consider a different flute if you are looking for a different sound.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:56 pm 
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Quote:
I remember when I first started playing Irish flute I would get nervous and literally lose any tone and be reduced to making a hissing sound.


I resemble that remark. I call it "whistling while eating crackers".

I notice that daily long-tone exercises make the biggest difference for me in tone. Suddenly (a month or six months later) something changes and the tone-quality is at a whole other level. I don't recall who (Jenifer Cluff, perhaps), suggested modification of the embouchure while playing long tones: widen until the tone is too breathy, narrow until too weak, adjust the flow upward or downward, push more air until the note breaks.

When I get tired of long-tones, I play scales. When I get tired of scales, I play chord runs starting from each note in the scale. Then O'Carolan tunes because they are slow and pretty. Then tunes that emphasize the low register (Porthole of the Kelp, Maids of Michelstown, Lad O'Beirnes).


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:08 am 
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I agree with everything that has been said regarding different blowing techniques, long tones etc. For me, my journey involved several different flutes. I eventually found one that I liked the tone of, including my ability to produce something 'reedy' and a good low D. What's interesting is that at the time I had 2 or 3 flutes in the house, and I found only this one to be satisfying. I sold the other flutes and stuck with my Windward. Now, a few years on (still with my Windward), still finding new and more complex tones - my embouchure is developing! But, when I go to workshops and try other flutes (including types that I sold), my tone, including reediness, is much better on them. So, I would say...find a flute that you like - it may take a bit of searching. Play it, develop your 'blow'. It will improve your embouchure generally, and your ability to play other flutes. Enjoy the journey and don't give up!

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2018 3:45 pm 
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Wow, this was super helpful, I mean the article and the replies. I’m going to resist the urge to try out any new flutes, since this is like my fifth flute. I’ll assume it is something I can achieve with my current flute. Thank you.

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