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Weak E's and A's
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Author:  Andro [ Fri May 03, 2019 6:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Weak E's and A's

I have noticed on several of my simple system flutes that the E's and the A's tend to be weaker and less clear than the other notes. I understand that the quality of the notes varies across the scale on this type of flute, and that they are not Boehm flutes with high uniformity of tone on each note. I wanted to ask if this is common, and do we live with it as part of the 'sound', or should I make an effort to somehow lift these notes, which seems very difficult to me.

I have also noticed that on the sunny days when my embouchure is working just right that the E's and A's are not too bad, but when it's not going right, those notes in particular seem to suffer. I don't think I have described this very well, but do other people notice this?

Author:  benhall.1 [ Sat May 04, 2019 12:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Weak E's and A's

If you look at the tones holes that make the A and E - respectively the third tone hole down and the bottom one of the six - you will see that they are smaller than the others. This is so that the hole can be further up the tube to enable ordinary, human hands to reach them. However, because they're smaller, the notes produced by them are weaker and with poorer, less defined, tone. They're also quite often not quite in tune without a bit of lip work.

Someone will be along shortly with a more technical explanation ...

Author:  jim stone [ Sat May 04, 2019 11:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Weak E's and A's

Just keep playing. As your embouchure get stronger these
problems (which are widely noted) diminish. You certainly can
practice doing long tones on these notes. But it should work out
anyway. It may take a while. Patience is a great virtue in this
business.

Author:  plunk111 [ Sat May 04, 2019 12:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weak E's and A's

You don’t mention if your flutes are keyed or keyless... If they are keyed, you can strengthen them a little by “venting” - I.e. hitting the D#/Eb key at the same time. This is standard practice for Bohemia’s flutes. If you’re keyless, see the response above. Good luck!

Pat

Author:  plunk111 [ Sat May 04, 2019 12:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weak E's and A's

“Boehm” - darn auto-correct!!!

Author:  Steve Bliven [ Sat May 04, 2019 12:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weak E's and A's

Liked it better with Auto-correct—"Bohemian Flutes", a whole new Forum.

Best wishes.

Steve

Author:  tstermitz [ Sat May 04, 2019 11:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weak E's and A's

On my 19th Century Firth, Pond & Co flute, the low E is significantly richer and a bit louder, if I vent the Eb key. This is intrinsic to the design, i.e, it's intentional. This flute doesn't really have a "flat-foot" problem; it has a smallish embouchure hole and medium tone holes.

I haven't noticed a problem with my A note.

I agree that it takes more than a year or two to develop a good, strong tone in the low notes. Working on long-tone exercises for 15 minutes every day has made a huge improvement in my tone quality and consistency.

Author:  oleorezinator [ Sun May 05, 2019 6:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weak E's and A's

E is a miserable sounding note
on woodwinds across the board.
It adds character.

Author:  benhall.1 [ Mon May 06, 2019 3:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Weak E's and A's

oleorezinator wrote:
E is a miserable sounding note
on woodwinds across the board.
It adds character.

Very nearly a haiku. All you need is to substitute for the first line, "E is a sad note".

:)

Author:  jim stone [ Mon May 06, 2019 9:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weak E's and A's

A long time ago we had whistle-related haiku contests
on the board. The winner won a whistle. I won a whistle,
in fact. We should do that again, extending to flutes, etc.

Author:  oleorezinator [ Mon May 06, 2019 11:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weak E's and A's

benhall.1 wrote:
oleorezinator wrote:
E is a miserable sounding note
on woodwinds across the board.
It adds character.

Very nearly a haiku. All you need is to substitute for the first line, "E is a sad note".

:)
Image
Very true.....and remember.....
"D-Minor is the saddest of all keys."
Nigel Tufnel

Author:  Terry McGee [ Tue May 07, 2019 12:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Weak E's and A's

It's worth noting that not only are the A and E holes (holes L3 and R3) smaller than all their colleagues, it is further from each of them to the next vent (hole R1 and the first open hole in the foot).

It was observations like this that caused Boehm to spit the dummy and go to his fully-keyed model where every hole is vented by an open key 1 semitone further down the flute. And all the keyholes of identical size, though Clinton subsequently saw (and/or perhaps heard?) the weakness in that plan and fixed it in his "graduated-hole" model. Clinton's solution was probably overkill, and we've settled on a compromise tiering of hole-sizes since.

Author:  crackedfluteplayer [ Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Weak E's and A's

I think a lot of us buy antique 8 keyed flutes because we want to use the bottom 2 keys. If these are positioned so that they can be reached easily, the E flat key is hard to keep down with the pinky. It seems easier on a Boehm flute.
I have been tempted on occasion to file an undercut in the R3 hole to tune it better but have been physically restrained by my wife. I may get up in the middle of the night to do it. I know that we are only custodians of these beautiful instruments and should avoid modifying them but on the other hand I hope to enjoy them myself for a couple more decades, I would certainly be happier with a flat D and an in tune E rather than the other way around.

Author:  tstermitz [ Mon Jul 08, 2019 10:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weak E's and A's

I can testify that holding the right pinky down requires some practice and strengthening. Once you achieve that, it isn't that hard. I admit that had to rearrange my hold to play C&C# which meant that I had to press the Eb key out rather than down. I also had to rearrange my hold again when I started learning the Bb key. These things are all bothersome at first, but then you get more and more used to it.

My advice to a new flute player would be to learn with the proper hold for a keyed flute even if you are playing a keyless. My other advice would be to buy a keyless with a key for that one, impossible note (Eb). Of course, then you want an F-nat, and you are on the road to perdition.

I guess that different flutes have more or less of a problem with the E note. The E note on my Firth, Pond & Co, is really quite good; I find that holding down the Eb key helps a little with strength or quality on the E note, but is not necessary to improve the tuning.

Author:  ChrisCracknell [ Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Weak E's and A's

With practice, the E and A can get much stronger. However all that practice makes the other notes stronger as well. You will never crack a hard E as strong as your own hard D, or an A as strong as your own G. As observed above, evenness of notes is a virtue of the Boehm flute, quirkiness is that of the simple system flute. I am very happy with my As and Es though they are the weakest notes for me on my flute. But they are strong enough to be heard and it is a sign of a good flute tune, that this difference in weight of notes suits what is happening musically. And it is why the same tune played in the same key (i.e. different fingering) e.g. on a C or a D Flute sounds very different.

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