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Volume differences between notes
http://forums.chiffandfipple.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=107852
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Author:  PB+J [ Fri Dec 28, 2018 7:40 am ]
Post subject:  Volume differences between notes

I have a Walt Sweet "Shannon" flute which I'm just learning to play, coming from whistle, on which I've gotten modestly capable. I like the flute very much; it gets a lovely dark tone even in this beginner's hands, but it does one thing which bothers me: the E and the F# are noticeably quieter than the low D or the G. The low D is a big honking strong note. The E and the F# are not.

It often throws me--I feel like I have good tone and good flow going and then I'm sort of rattled--blowing harder to try and get those two notes to sound the same, or to have the same timbre, then losing both the feel and the timing.

I really know almost nothing about flutes. Is this problem of varying note volume/timbre common? My only comparison is to a very cheap wooden flute bought on eBay a few years ago, which is worse sounding all around and has weaker notes at every position. I'm guessing that it's some tuning issue, and that if the six hole is too big your E is out of tune, but if it's too small you don't get enough volume.

To be sure this is likely something that would get better or easier with practice. I just want a sense of how to approach it.

Also yes the answer could just be "your'e doing it wrong"

Author:  chas [ Fri Dec 28, 2018 8:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Volume differences between notes

Some flutes, especially those made to be ergonomic or for small hands, have weak E notes (and occasionally a weak A on lower flutes). But I've never played a flute with a weak F#.

The reason for this is that the RH3 hole needs to be placed further up on the flute in order for the reach to be comfortable. This means it needs to be smaller in order to sound in tune. But then there's only this small amount of venting, which can give the note the veiled sound. But the RH2 hole is usually one of the biggest, so there should be no veiling of the F# note.

I don't have any experience with the Shannon; those who own them may have flute-specific knowledge.

Author:  Steve Bliven [ Fri Dec 28, 2018 9:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Volume differences between notes

Yup, the Shannon has a small R3 hole which would result in the quiet(er) E, but the R2 hole is pretty sizable so the F# shouldn't be all that soft. That may be more a matter of getting used to the instrument.

Best wishes.

Steve

Author:  rogervj [ Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Volume differences between notes

I’ve had a Shannon for 3 years now. It was my first flute also. I just thought that was the way it was supposed to be. I adjusted to the point that I didn’t notice the volume differences. I just got a Casey Burns and immediately noticed the evenness of tone. I won’t stop playing the Shannon because of this. Each flute has it’s strengths and weaknesses. Just keep on going.

Author:  PB+J [ Mon Dec 31, 2018 6:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Volume differences between notes

rogervj wrote:
I’ve had a Shannon for 3 years now. It was my first flute also. I just thought that was the way it was supposed to be. I adjusted to the point that I didn’t notice the volume differences. I just got a Casey Burns and immediately noticed the evenness of tone. I won’t stop playing the Shannon because of this. Each flute has it’s strengths and weaknesses. Just keep on going.



Thank you kindly, good to know. I’ve been getting better at playing through it, and I’m still a rank beginner.

Author:  PB+J [ Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Volume differences between notes

the volume/timbre difference continues to bug me. If there is ambient noise I don't notice it so much, but practicing at home it just drives me crazy. If I'm playing, say, the "lilting banshee" the volume difference of the E is hard to ignore. I've read that a major the point of the Siccama flute was avoiding volume differences between notes. I have. several low whistles where this isn't a problem.

It's not like I can go try a bunch of Irish flutes at the local music shop!

Author:  jiminos [ Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Volume differences between notes

PB+J wrote:
I have a Walt Sweet "Shannon" flute which I'm just learning to play, coming from whistle, on which I've gotten modestly capable. I like the flute very much; it gets a lovely dark tone even in this beginner's hands, but it does one thing which bothers me: the E and the F# are noticeably quieter than the low D or the G. The low D is a big honking strong note. The E and the F# are not.


I have a Shannon. I don't have this issue. Or... if I do, I am not noticing it. (which is entirely believable.)

Author:  Akiba [ Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Volume differences between notes

The difference in volume and timbre of the notes on an Irish flute is a result of the flute not being based on science but based on compromise. Keys can vent notes to make them more true and open (no help on a keyless flute, and not used by Irish players most of the time who do have keys). That said, it's these differences in volume and timbre of the notes that gives the Irish flute its distinctive character. It mimics the Irish pipes in that way. Embrace the differences; listen to the great players and hear how they use these differences. It gives each key we play in, e.g. D major, E minor, G major, A minor, etc., have its own distinctive sound. It gives the piper's triplet its pop. So seek to optimize the sound of each note, not make them uniform.

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