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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:00 am 
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A friend sent me this picture of his Grandfather’s flute. Any ideas about what it might be?

His grandfather, Irish American, would have been born roughly around 1910, in NYC. My friend has no idea of the origins of the flute. He thinks it's possible his grandfather might have made it himself. I haven’t seen the flute in person yet, and I can’t tell from the picture if it’s a conical bore or a straight bore. My friend says there's no maker's mark that he has seen, and that the light colored bands at either end are metal, and that it takes a lot of air and is hard to keep in tune. He’s an excellent musician with near perfect pitch. Any ideas?

He’s probably going to bring it with him on his next visit, so I can try it out and have a closer look

Note: there was some lens distortion in the image he sent me so I made some slight efforts to correct for it.

Image


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:09 am 
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That is a fife.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:11 am 
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kintailpipes wrote:
That is a fife.



Ok, please explain! I have little idea of the difference


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:34 am 
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A fife is a shorter flute that plays in a higher pitch. They are often in Bb or D or some other pitch closer in range to the piccolo than the flute. You will find out when you see it in person or get measurements. If it is homemade the pitch could be rather random.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 1:25 pm 
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Also the military fife (which this is) is shaped like a cigar. Probably in Bb (unless your grandfather made it himself). I believe that was standard tuning for military fifes. They also were very strong and loud in the second and third octaves, so as to be heard above the cannon fire and the shrieks of the dying.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 3:00 pm 
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kintailpipes wrote:
That is a fife.


I've often wondered about the collective noun.

One wife, two wives. One fife, two fives?

In which case, is a handful of the instruments "a bunch of fives"?

Ducking for cover.....


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 3:08 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 4:17 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
it takes a lot of air and is hard to keep in tune. He’s an excellent musician with near perfect pitch.

jim stone wrote:
They also were very strong and loud in the second and third octaves.
And really meant to be played only in those octaves, so tuning in the first octave would be sacrificed for tuning in the second and third. In other words, don't bother trying to play it in tune in the first octave.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 5:37 pm 
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Just to reiterate, it's not my fife and not my grandfather. I'm literally, actually asking for a friend!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:44 pm 
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How do you know he's not your grandfather. Fife making grandfathers were notorious for getting around. Just saying.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:56 pm 
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jim stone wrote:
How do you know he's not your grandfather. Fife making grandfathers were notorious for getting around. Just saying.



Yeah but he had an Irish surname. If he was Italian, then maybe...


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:05 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
jim stone wrote:
How do you know he's not your grandfather. Fife making grandfathers were notorious for getting around. Just saying.



Yeah but he had an Irish surname. If he was Italian, then maybe...

LOL. :D
Just to add, when we speak of 'Military Fifes" I would hasten to add, we mean American Colonial Military. The French Military had Fife and Drum corps that employed conic bore miniature one key flutes, very sweet toned, and with good intonation in three octaves. From what I can tell, the British used the whole lot at various times; straight bore broom handles, straight bore 'cigar' shapes, and conic bore fifes.

Bob

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