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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:02 pm 
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I'm trying an eight-keyed Rudall Carte cocus flute, which I received from the Irish Flute Store. The flute is very beautiful and expressive, but the internal tuning is a wee bit off (though a fair amount of effort has been put into tweaking the tuning), at least compared to my more contemporary flutes. For some reason this makes the flute more expressive and interesting to my ear. But I am trying to blow it in tune. In some keys, for some tunes, it's fine. Others certain notes are a bit off. I believe I can get it right but I would welcome some advice from folks more experienced with these old instruments than I am. I'm practicing with a tuner and also lipping up and down.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 1:48 pm 
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Antique flutes can be played in tune with practice. They are slightly more difficult than a modern Irish flute because they were intended to be played chromatically, over a range of three octaves, and at a time when concert pitch was a moveable feast. As you mention, antique flutes do seem to be more expressive in comparison with some modern instruments, but this may be due to the additional concentration and engagement involved with playing the instrument. Regarding key signatures that best suit antique flutes, I believe that large holed English flutes are best suited to playing in flat key signatures, (a significant amount of Charles Nicholson's published repertoire is written in flat key signatures).

As an interesting aside, I seem to remember Rick Wilson writing that the best way of determining the most suitable playing pitch for a large holed English flute was find where the Eb major scale can be played with the best intonation....


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 2:39 pm 
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This can be mastered if you have a flute that is the correct scale length (in this case I think it most likely is) with the correct cork placement for your playing style. Jem has a posting on how to do this. For most people it is standard, but I found my playing style likes a cork placed a small bit further than most.

I have a great, large holed Rudall Carte that I would play occasionally, and found tuning issues discouraging. It has a wonderful tone with a rich complex sound, but I needed to work pretty hard to get it to play in tune. If it were my only flute I am sure I would have adjusted to it, so my moves would become more automatic and less conscious. But I found I just ended up playing it less, and seldom out since my muscle memory was tuned to my Wilkes, a modern RR tweaked copy.

I sent it to Jon Cornia and had him put some wax in certain holes to make it play more like my modern copy. It is now easier to switch back and forth. There are some purists who would likely find this sacrilege but it is completely reversible.

I found practicing with a tuner to be difficult. It was easier for me set the cork with a tuner then to practice with session recordings or playing in a session with an accordion or concertina or harp that is firmly in tune and gravitating towards them.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:52 pm 
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Thanks for this info. Much encouraged. Lovely flute.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:08 am 
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Instead of playing to a tuner, it's worth getting the Tuning CD (now available as a digital download if you don't want a physical CD), which is useful for learning which notes are off and helping you figure out how much to adjust your blowing angle (or vent other keys) to get the note into tune. It plays long tones (with harmonics) all the way up and down the scale, one track per note, and you can hear the beats easily when you're out of tune. It's a similar process to tuning drones on pipes. Also has a series of chords in addition to single notes.

Personally I don't strive for precise tuning...in the ballpark is good enough for me, but I've played (and recorded) with accordion players and harpists and tuning does matter more in those cases.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 10:00 am 
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Thanks again, Brad and everyone. All helpful. I appear to be getting the hang of it. The challenge I needed. The flute was restored by Pat O and I figure anything that's good enough for him is good enough. It really does seem to be in a different league of expressiveness from anything else I've played, and the keys all work well.

Does anybody know when Rudall Carte flutes began to be produced? Terry's site appears to be saying they first made flutes together circa 1872. The flute is high pitched but plays well at 440 with the tuning slide extended about an inch.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:28 am 
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I recently got my Monzani flute back after it had been on a long holiday.
Picked it up and thought wow that’s out of tune.
Now I’m back into playing it. It all falling into place.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:07 pm 
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I'd suggest playing along with a quasi-solo-flute (or fiddle) disc. I found the Kevin Burke Live disc very good for this, since it's mostly solo and he doesn't play at breakneck speed.

If you need extra motivation, Chris Norman once said to me, "Don't blame the flute for your inability to play it in tune."

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:14 pm 
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I'll check out the disk. There is an extraordinary wealth of music now on Youtube,
expanding exponentially, it seems. Kevin Burke is certainly represented, from house
concerts to lessons, a big influence on me. I play mostly with such videos, and now you
can routinely slow them down. Chris N's remark is very 19th century, if you ask me, but
perhaps there is a special expressiveness in a flute you learn to blow in tune.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:39 am 
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I can't agree with that Chris Norman statement either, at least as a general statement.

One of the first things I did when I got my current flute was to compare it to the one I had been playing, using the TT Tuner app on my phone (Android version of RTTA). While neither flute was in perfect 12TET because that's just the nature of the beast, the new flute was noticeably closer than the other one. There was nothing that changed in my playing skill to account for it. One flute was simply in better intonation than the other. The previous flute had some advantages; it was a bit louder and easier to get a nice solid low D note. But I like the new flute better because it's easier to play in tune.

At Chris Norman's level, I can see why someone might want to play a flute with intonation issues if the sound is fantastic. That's not me though, I like not having to fight the flute too much. I also play frequently at home with my fiddler Significant Other. She has a very good ear for intonation, and won't hesitate to let me know if I'm out of tune on mandolin or flute. I can get away with fumbling notes or forgetting how a tune starts, but not being out of tune!


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:00 am 
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jim stone wrote:
Chris N's remark is very 19th century, if you ask me, but
perhaps there is a special expressiveness in a flute you learn to blow in tune.


It depends in part on what you do to play that flute in tune -- if you have an 8-key flute you can vent keys to get notes in tune and/or you can lip up and down, adjust blowing pressure, etc.

If you have no keys or, say, only 4 keys, lipping up and down becomes the primary means of adjustment, and that changes the tone of those notes. So it does introduce "character," with every note having its own particular sound.

I have a 4-key flute in Bb that has all the usual simple-system tuning idiosyncrasies, but they are magnified by the big long bore; playing it in tune requires some pretty extreme head movements for some notes. I subsequently got a more modern design 6-key Bb flute that plays perfectly in tune on the Bb scale, but I am so habituated to compensating on my other flute that it's actually harder for me to play this newer one in tune.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:26 am 
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Heh heh, I have the flute to test the "it's your fault, not the flute's" theory. It's:

1403
CLEMENTI & Co
C.NICHOLSON'S IMPROVED

But it has small holes, which, to my mind, makes it a Nicholson's Unimproved.

It's in perfect condition, and plays really well. There are just a few little problems. If you tune A to 440 Hz, low D comes in at -70 cents (almost C#). The middle d comes in around -50 cents. Both F# are around -50 cents.

I don't reckon anyone could play this flute well. Probably explains why it's in such good shape. It's never been played.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:37 am 
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Quote:
Does anybody know when Rudall Carte flutes began to be produced? Terry's site appears to be saying they first made flutes together circa 1872. The flute is high pitched but plays well at 440 with the tuning slide extended about an inch.Jim Stone


From what I gather Professor Carte joined the firm, Rudall & Rose, in 1852 (Rudall, Rose Carte & Co.). Address 100 Bond Street until 1857 when they moved to 20, Charing Cross. John M. Rose had died in 1866. Rudall Carte & Co. came into being in 1871. They were already at the 20, Charing Cross address as Rudall, Rose Carte & Co. George Rudall died in 1871. In 1878 Rudall, Carte & Co. moved to 23, Berners Street and were there until 1955. Carte died in 1891.

I have Rudall, Carte & Co. 7103 as my main flute. Plays very in tune at A440 with the slide out at 14 mm. I only have to blow a little harder on the F# in the first octave to bring it up. My partner, a fiddler has near enough perfect pitch and says this is the flute she likes me to play.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:44 am 
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7103 was made in early 1892, about the time the Philharmonic were giving up on High Pitch. I imagine most other players caved in earlier than that.

Was British High Pitch a foretaste of Brexit?


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:57 pm 
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If you want to play a period flute as in tune as it can achieve (endless fun!), not only must you find the right embouchure/blowing style for it and be prepared to lip things in, but you need to use the period fingerings. It's not only no use but downright daft :poke: to complain the F# or open C# are flat if you don't vent an F key and the Eb key for F#s and the C key for C#. You should also vent the Eb key for low E, but whether or not you should for middle E has to be decided upon flute by flute. There's more to it than that - get an appropriate fingering chart (from the sticky thread or via my signature links) and do some experimenting. It's perfectly possible to play in a trad Irish style while doing a lot of key venting.

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Last edited by jemtheflute on Sat Aug 17, 2019 2:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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