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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:23 am 
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I play a wooden keyless D flute and am interested in acquiring a keyless flute in F, and would appreciate some guidance especially in regard to the distinction between piccolos, what are described as 'band flutes' and identifying the type of F flute I'm interested in. Buying advice from folks who play F flutes would be welcome too; are there sources of older flutes of this type available or am I better to contact a current flute maker? Common wood type for the smaller pipe?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:36 am 
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I have played a number of higher pitched flutes. Dave Copley makes a good F flute. Billy Miller makes a good Bb flute/fife, and I have an Olwell A and an Olwell G, both bamboo/cane. I like these flutes very well. They challenge embouchure in a way that strengthens it, a bit like overtone exercises but you are playing whole tunes. They enable me to play easily in keys like C, using standard fingering. I'm on the street a good deal and they are readily heard. Also these are beautiful instruments, lovely tone. Wiser heads will tell you the technical difference tween fifes and pics, however the latter are called 'piccolos' and they are in very high keys, e.g. D. I find them too high for my ears (hearing protection is a good idea with higher pitched flutes in general). The A flute gives me a D tonic, which I can play using standard G fingering--this alternative is welcome. And the G flute correspondingly a C tonic, helpful for accompanying singers. Well made bamboo flutes are very good. Sweetheart makes such flutes (for more) in rosewood, cherrywood, even blackwood, which are good too, but a good bamboo flute sounds super, is a lot cheaper. Being cylindrical you may have to lip up the top of the second octave, but that's no problem with a little practice.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:22 am 
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Piccolo usually starts on the D, one higher tone than a soprano C, (i.e. the third line of a G clef). They are best playing in the first two octaves.
Fifes are usually Bb instruments that are mainly used in the upper two octaves, but can also play in the soprano range.
A flute in F will have a lowest note of the first space on a G clef.

A keyless piccolo is normally the equivalent of a high D whistle.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:32 am 
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Thank you for the information. It is specifically a flute in F that I'm interested in as I have some regional tunes in that key that I want to play and I don't want to transpose them. They have a particular beauty in that key. I find that my ear is quite drawn to that sound. I do own a piccolo, or at least a flageolet that has an alternative piccolo head piece to play it transversely, but I only ever play that as a flageolet. Guidance on clues for how to identify an F flute from the piccolos and fifes would be a help if I'm buying used. Is there a typical range for the sound length of F flutes?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:12 pm 
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A piccolo will be very high, higher than an F flute. And a paradigmatic fife is a military instrument that looks like a cigar. I think it would be very difficult to find an F flute that is either. Dave Copley has a delrin F flute, without rings (which aren't needed on his delrin flutes) for 335 dollars. http://www.copleyflutes.com/catalog.html This is anyhow a picture of what an F flute looks like. I owned one of his blackwood F flutes, which was excellent (but I sold it cause I wasn't playing it enough). I have one of his delrin D flutes, without rings, which is just a fine flute. (The delrin flutes avoid CITES shipping restrictions on blackwood.) From which I infer that his delrin F is very good, FWIW.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:38 pm 
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Sizewise - I would imagine an F flute to be between a regular flute, of about 24" long, & a piccolo, approx 15" - so in the region of 20" long.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:02 pm 
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fatmac wrote:
Piccolo usually starts on the D, one higher tone than a soprano C, (i.e. the third line of a G clef). They are best playing in the first two octaves.
Fifes are usually Bb instruments that are mainly used in the upper two octaves, but can also play in the soprano range.


This isn't correct - piccolos start at Bb. There are both Bb piccolos and fifes - each are constructed differently. There are also makers making A and G flutes, which blur the line between piccolo and flute...

John Gallagher makes a fantastic F flute. F flutes seem to mostly be used for flute band purposes, so there would be old ones floating around (I have two, a one key and a six key). John's is based on a Pratten F flute, and I don't know what the purpose of the original was, but it's quite a bit nicer than either of the "band" flutes I have.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:27 pm 
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Everything I have seen in F has been a flute so far - mostly looking exactly like a smaller D flute.

Very good once you get into a few flats in the key signature. G minor for example works well (actually G Dorian, but ...). I got good use out of mine this weekend when playing with Schäferpfeifen - bagpipes in G major or G minor, by using a thumb hole. I used both D and F flutes depending on what the tune was in. My F Flute is a relatively cheap one by Sweetheart flutes. I recall about $300 10 years ago. A minor tunes, also possible on these pipes usually got played on my keyed D flute.

Play them exactly like a squeakier, livelier, more penetrating D flute. Obviously adapting embouchure as necessary to get the best sound out of whatever the flute is. Reasons to play it would be either: 1. You need to be in those keys to play with someone in particular, 2. you want to be heard better, e.g. outside, or 3. You like the agility of the higher flute.

At the weekend, I also had my first experience of actually needing to convert my new D flute into an Eflat flute. Playing in 3 flats as if in 2 sharps - brings you right into middle of the other half of the circle of fifths - very useful. I've obviously tried it out before, but this was the first time in anger. Worked well. Praise to Windward flutes for that. Gave myself a couple of times through the tune playing from the EFlat (actually C minor...) sheet music to work out what I was meant to be playing, but mostly just playing the note visually one step down from what I was reading. If doing this far enough in advance then I would write out the music in one or 2 sharps.

Interestingly it feels like a completely different flute playing in EFlat than in D.

This is the same approach to be taken with an F flute. Either play tunes you know as you would play them on the D flute and they come out in F or acquire sheet music in the target key and play it by transposing to 2 sharps on the fly or transpose the sheet music in advance and write it out with 2 sharps and play it as you would on a D flute. Exactly what you would do with different keyed whistles. If in doubt, ask some of the whistle players - they have to do one of these all the time as soon as they pick up a different whistle, not in D.

(I think you can find the successor to my f flute here: http://musiquemorneaux.com/flutes/ It would be the F flute in blackwood and looks like the one in the picture, just in Blackwood. This seems to be the official successor to sweetheart flutes.)

For G upwards, I would probably use my low G , A and C whistles. I have a G flute, but it really is halfway between flute and piccolo from the bore dimensions and sound etc. I prefer the G whistle if I don't need to be penetrating. It is definitely a different beast from the F flute, which is much closer to the D flute than is the G. Maybe it would be classified as a fife? (Phil Bleazey, Blackwood, bought second hand years ago.)

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Flute: Musical Priest
Flute: Swinging on the Gate
Flute: Sally Gardens
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2018 6:12 pm 
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Many years ago, back in the 1980s, I had a Ralph Sweet flute in F that was a great player.

I didn't have any issue with embouchure. It seemed to play just like a D or Eb flute.

It was wonderful to play it along with my band-mates! They would capo the guitar and octave mandolin at the 3rd fret and we could play all of our normal repertoire.

It was especially nice on tunes like The Gold Ring with all the crans- I can still hear, in my memory, those crans rippling out of the bottom of that little flute!

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2018 12:43 am 
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At the weekend, I also had my first experience of actually needing to convert my new D flute into an Eflat flute. Playing in 3 flats as if in 2 sharps - brings you right into middle of the other half of the circle of fifths - very useful. I've obviously tried it out before, but this was the first time in anger.


I have this vision of being at a gig, and suddenly you have to play C-minor. Thus the anger. Maybe it's a German expression, but it is kind of poetic.

C-minor is wonderful. Is it not the "minoriest" of minor keys?

I'm working on a C-minor waltz that is so lovely, I had to learn Eb scale to play it. To my surprise (no anger), the 3-flat scale isn't that hard. I suffered a bit more anger trying to learn the 1-flat scale, because of the Bb key and breaking old habits to float the left thumb. After that, using the Eb key and the Ab (G#) key was pretty smooth.

I like the fact that fingering on my flute for the full two octave scale is pretty simple.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2018 3:17 am 
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To be honest, up to now I've always pulled out the Boehm flute for those awkward keys. Far easier than playing on the keyed D simple system flute - there is a reason why the Boehm flute established itself... Playing fluently in 3 flats with accidentals scattered around is a lovely technical exercise and one day I will be able to do it on the simple system. But right now I am concentrating on improving other aspects of my playing.

I would not countenance swapping the D and EFlat components of the Windward flute during a gig on stage. If quick switches were necessary then I would either:
1. Bring a second flute in D and use the combi in EFLat.
2. Bring the Boehm flute for the EFlat.
3. Have the Change happen during a set that I sit out.
4. Have roadies to retune my instruments in the wings and hand them to me as needed. Also good for keeping the groupies off.

Option 4 is my preferred, but I need to get some groupies first...

_________________
19th October, 2012:
Flute: Rookery
Flute: Musical Priest
Flute: Swinging on the Gate
Flute: Sally Gardens
4th June 2012:
Flute: Rolling in the Ryegrass, Green Gates
2 April, 2012:
Smallpipes: The Meeting of the Waters. Corn Riggs
Smallpipes: Mrs Hamilton of Pithcaithland


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2018 3:48 am 
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This isn't correct - piccolos start at Bb. There are both Bb piccolos and fifes - each are constructed differently

The concert piccolo loses the C key & so starts on D, most keyless piccolo are in the key of D - there are piccolo fifes that are Bb instruments. :thumbsup:

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:00 pm 
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I assume by higher pitch you mean a flute in a higher key that D on a different octave range, not a flute pitched higher than 440. Here is an example of a keyed flute in F you might like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYREXxIbKI0 . The maker is listed in the description.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:03 am 
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chrismontez wrote:
I assume by higher pitch you mean a flute in a higher key that D on a different octave range, not a flute pitched higher than 440. Here is an example of a keyed flute in F you might like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYREXxIbKI0 . The maker is listed in the description.




Yes, higher pitched than D as in the key of F. That is a fine duet (I admire Erwan Menguy's playing) and I like his flute sound in that video though I'm less keen myself on a keyed flute. My D flute is a Lehart. I may have to save a few more pennies and ask Gilles to make me another, this time in F.

I already knew that is an option, but I was thinking to maybe try and acquire a first F flute for a little less cost and have some help in identifying and finding one. Looks like I'm rapidly talking myself round to my original thought with a little help in that direction from your post... :)


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