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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 11:52 am 
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On a conical bore simple-system flute, what notes are you getting with keys?

I imagine you would only need four keys to get a chromatic flute with two octaves. Maybe that's wrong? But of course there are 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8 key flutes out there.

If I order a keyed flute, what notes am I typically getting? I see flutes sold as having various numbers of keys but usually no account of what notes the keys trigger. Is it standardized? Does one choose which notes?

Sorry, it probably seems like a really dumb question


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 12:08 pm 
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Not a dumb question at all.

The only confusing part is that there are normally two keys for F-natural, which is done because it's really hard to go between F and D using the short key without producing a crossing note in between. The long F key solves that problem.

Going up from the bottom on a 6-key D flute you would have first D#/Eb, then one or two keys for F natural, then G#, then Bb, then C natural (normally only used in the second octave by Irish players, but some people like to use it all the time instead of cross-fingering.

On an 8 key flute you'd have two more keys on the foot joint, one for C# and one for C.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:46 pm 
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Thank you, that makes sense

Sounds like if it ever comes to that I'd look for a six key flute


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 11:46 pm 
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To answer your question: After keyless, 6-keyed flutes are most common. 8 keys are quite common, especially in 19th Century flutes. One-keyed flutes are typical for baroque players, who are fully chromatic through the use of cross-fingerings.

4-keys: If you are used to a cross-fingered C-nat, you can be comfortably chromatic with 4-keys: Eb, F-nat, G# and Bb. Some flutes are made with that configuration. I've seen other key choices which I wouldn't find useful for myself.

I hear people preferring short-F, but I'm more likely to use long-F, which works fine in the keys of C and F. Up to this point, I've only "needed" short F when going from Ab to F-nat, which showed up for me in C-minor (Eb).

The C foot becomes useful for tunes in C-major/D-dorian and F-major/G-dorian. I really love the key of F (with the related, D-minor & G-dorian).

Of course, in ITM, D & G (and related modes) are by far the most common keys. Next is A (fiddlers and old-timey musicians seem to have a lot of A-tunes), and then F & C.

If you think in terms of likely key signatures, I guess you might consider getting a 2-keyed flute with F-nat and G#.

But, the more common situation is that you require an accidental. G# and Bb can be achieved with cross-fingerings. F-nat is not so easy, and Eb quite difficult.

So, if I HAD to choose a 2-key flute, it would be Long-F and Eb.

I COULD live with a 4-key flute.

You can see why people skip straight to 6-keys or 8-keys.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 6:09 am 
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Thank you that's very informative


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:19 am 
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PB+J wrote:
On a conical bore simple-system flute, what notes are you getting with keys?

A keyless (D) flute has 7 notes: D E F# G A B C#. It is "missing" the following: Eb F G# Bb C.

PB+J wrote:
I imagine you would only need four keys to get a chromatic flute with two octaves. Maybe that's wrong? But of course there are 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8 key flutes out there.

Five needed for fully chromatic (Eb F G# Bb C). However, for ITM normally add second F-nat key (they're called "long" and "short" F to prevent unwanted extra note for certain transitions (e.g. D F D). The convention is 6-key for ITM "fully keyed".

It is possible to get a "good enough" C through cross fingering or half-holing. Even on keyed flutes many traditional Irish players still play the cross-fingered C-nat (especially in fast sequences) in part because it is so deeply ingrained in the memory. For me, I get a fairly OK F-nat through half holing. But solid in-tune Eb, G# and Bb are very hard to do with proficiency and speed on a keyless. Half holing typically produces a very soft version of the note (even if it is in tune) which won't match the adjacent notes in tone or volume. Hence the keys to fill in the gaps and give you precisely tuned options for the missing notes.

PB+J wrote:
If I order a keyed flute, what notes am I typically getting? I see flutes sold as having various numbers of keys but usually no account of what notes the keys trigger. Is it standardized? Does one choose which notes?

Go keyless or else go 6-Key and cover all the bases. Keyless will allow you to play 99% of all ITM. If you "need" any keys - you probably need them all.

The extra 2 keys on 8-key are to provide middle C and C# (C4/C#4 below the low-D note). These keys differ from the other 5/6 in that they are open-standing (press to close). You probably don't need these keys ever and a C-foot is going to add an awful lot of extra cost to the instrument.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2019 11:51 pm 
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gbyrne wrote:
The extra 2 keys on 8-key are to provide middle C and C# (C4/C#4 below the low-D note). These keys differ from the other 5/6 in that they are open-standing (press to close). You probably don't need these keys ever and a C-foot is going to add an awful lot of extra cost to the instrument.


It is true that the C-foot adds a lot of extra cost to a new instrument. Vintage flutes frequently come with the C-foot.

I've found the C-foot enables a bunch of tunes I really love. In particular, tunes in the keys of F, D-Dorian, D-minor, G-Dorian:
- Lad O'Beirnes
- Porthole of the Kelp
- Paddy Fahey (#1)
- Neckbelly
- Seanamhac Tube Station

D-Dorian tunes almost always have the C-nat note as an important one.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:26 am 
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Thanks again for the info--I'm a long ways from "needing" any keys, so it's all curiosity at this point. But I do look at ebay ads and wonder...


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