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 Post subject: Siccama flutes
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 1:08 am 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
What are people's views on Siccama flutes? Are they good for ITM? I had thought they may be excellent. There's one for sale in a well known online store that has been sitting there for ages, and very reasonably priced. Do people not want them? I thought they were highly desirable. I ask because I am thinking of buying it, but I'd like to know more about what I would be getting into. Maybe they are not near A440?


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama flutes
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:01 am 
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Location: Malua Bay, on the NSW Nature Coast
Great flutes, in general, Andro, and I haven't struck any that don't work at A440. They are the predecessor to the Prattens Perfected, after all. The plusses are much easier stretches, much better intonation than the other flutes around at the time. But, you lose two open holes, and we just don't seem ready to embrace that in Irish music!

Siccama assembled some pretty impressive testimonials at the time....

http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Sicc-1851.htm


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama flutes
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 7:10 am 
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I recently bought a nice old actually silver flute on Craigslist (the local equivalent of internet classified ads) for cheap. I've been restoring it, and in the process paying more attention to the Boehm system. It's really interesting to compare to to the keyless flute, and to the simple system keyed flute. I'm working on a jazz tune, "Yardbird Suite." The fingerings are much easier to deal with on the Boehm; there are three choices for Bb, and also it's objectively a much better instrument--more dynamic range, very loud, more in tune. It's very hard to play Yardbird Suite on my eight key anonymous wooden flute. It makes me think of how much musical styles depend on the instrument. I mean you can play the tune on a simple system keyed flute, but you wouldn't really want to. On the Boehm flute it makes sense.

On the other hand it just doesn't feel the same, and there's a certain kind of excitement and directness with the "wooden" flute that's missing with the Boehm.

The Siccama seems pretty brilliant and like it would split the difference. I'd love to try one sometime.

Instrument design is such a fascinating subject


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama flutes
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 11:03 am 
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Location: Vancouver, BC
I have a Hudson Siccama. It's light to hold, powerful and responsive to play, and has great tuning. It does take a while to get used to the 2 extra keys. The stretch is less, and the keys mean that your third fingers don't contact the flute at the same level as your other fingers. You can't slide up to the A or F#. The keys are light and responsive though, and it doesn't take long to get used to it. If you play multiple flutes, you will find that switching between them requires some attention while your hands remember the different stretches.

Like the Boehm design which is used by many makers, the Siccama design was adopted by many makers. So "Siccama" by itself doesn't tell you about the quality of the flute, how good the embouchure cut is, how well the keys work, or how closely the bore profile resembles the original. The one currently for sale is not by Hudson, who went on to make the Pratten flutes. I would make sure you could exchange it after a trial.

When I bought mine from the UK, I was very surprised to see what a low price was requested. It did have a crude couple of key replacements (C#, short F) that I had to have remade. The problem is that Siccama's don't come on the market that often, so there is not much chance for the market to decide what they should cost. This flute has been on the market a long time, and the price has been lowered once, so the demand for this flute at this price doesn't seem to be there.

Short answer is that I find my Siccama fine for Irish music. It is my favourite flute of all time (and I was in search of magic flutes, and tried many). I keep my Morvan as a spare.

Hugh

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 Post subject: Re: Siccama flutes
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 11:11 am 
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Location: Vancouver, BC
I see there are now 2 Siccama flutes on the site. I was referring to the one that has been marked down, not the Cottier, which looks very beautiful indeed.

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 Post subject: Re: Siccama flutes
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 1:42 pm 
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Andro wrote:
What are people's views on Siccama flutes? Are they good for ITM? I had thought they may be excellent. There's one for sale in a well known online store that has been sitting there for ages, and very reasonably priced. Do people not want them? I thought they were highly desirable. I ask because I am thinking of buying it, but I'd like to know more about what I would be getting into. Maybe they are not near A440?



Don't know about ITM - I don't play any but love the Siccama key system and the superior intonation over standard conical flutes.

They're reasonably priced probably because the extra keys for the 3rd fingers are out of fashion for ITM and excellent value for the acoustically correct position for these sound holes with easy coverage for small hand players.

Siccama fingering style also merged with Pratten Perfected bores - this is what I use. It's stunning and plays a=440Hz with 7mm tenon extension. If you're adept across musical genres, it's a great way to try a vintage cocuswood keyed flute to get a flavour. I have a few Siccamas - they all play extremely well as long as the maker is Boosey & Hawkes :)


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama flutes
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 11:38 pm 
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Just a note to say that John Hudson worked for Siccama before he worked with Pratten, so Hudson's bore design originated with the Siccama. Later, Hudson took the Siccama bore design and used it for the Pratten's Perfected. Later, Hudson then went to work for Boosey Hawkes, which may explain why Tonehole finds Boosey and Hawkes Siccama flutes to be excellent. The original Hudson Siccamas are also excellent.

Hugh

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 Post subject: Re: Siccama flutes
PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:11 pm 
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That's my flute you're talking about. I bought it from David Migoya before I got my Rudall and Rose repaired and a new headjoint. Since I was playing the R&R I decided that it was better not to hold on the the Siccama that I wasn't playing. There was a lot I liked about it. It had a great sound. Loud with a good hard low D. If I remember correctly it was easy to blow and get a good sound.

There's a clear maker's stamp on it. I see there isn't a picture of it in the listing. I'm not remembering what it said besides the serial number. I think it had another name besides Siccama. The keys do make some noise.

I know that all the flutes have a 2 week trial on that store.

Cindy


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama flutes
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:49 am 
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Regarding The Yardbird Suite. That would be composed by the Yardbird, Charlie 'Bird' Parker.
Quote : It makes me think of how much musical styles depend on the instrument. I mean you can play the tune on a simple system keyed flute, but you wouldn't really want to. On the Boehm flute it makes sense. End Quote.
'Makes sense', because it was composed on a Boehm System Saxophone by Mr. Parker.
Bird is Free!

Bob

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 Post subject: Re: Siccama flutes
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 3:48 am 
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I would say that a Siccama system flute, especially one made by John Hudson, can make an excellent flute for Irish music. At first, the two additional keys may seem daunting, and you have to learn to reposition both ring fingers to use them. Importantly, the fingering system itself is exactly the same as an ordinary 8 key in the first two octaves, so once you learn to operate the additional keys comfortably, you should eventually be able to play it with ease. In terms of build quality, I believe these earlier Siccamas are probably at the pinnacle of contemporary London flute-making. During their production period, they were used by famous London players, including Joseph Richardson, and Robert Sydney Pratten (before he decided to help develop his own models) . A testament to the playing quality of these instruments.


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama flutes
PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2019 4:52 pm 
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Cindy's right, that flute did come from me.
It's a blaster, as most Siccama flutes are.
I still own #26 (oldest extant).
They're fun to play and their intonation is terrific. Siccamas (pronounced SIK-a-ma....not si-KA-ma) get a short rap b/c of the two extra keys (which are only there b/c they are acoustically located in their proper place, unreachable with normal hands). The only changes I made were to use foam pads on the keys b/c they are open keys, as such would not form a good permanent seat as with leather, as closed keys do.
They're great for people with small hands who can't comfortably make the reach on RH3 and LH3.

You're all accurate in that John Hudson was the maker for Siccama (who tried and failed to get Rudall&Rose interested in his flute design), who eventually went solo (his mark was "Hudson from Siccama") and then became the principal maker for Boosey & Sons (Hawkes came years later) in making the Pratten's Perfected flute (which he had done on his own). This makes sense since his connection with Pratten occurred with Siccama. Sad note is that John died a deaf man, though pretty well off.

Funny coincidence, I'd forgotten about this flute, and ran into it during a visit up to Blayne's store recently. Saw the flute and after a bit of a look, noticed a few familiar things about it and realized it was the one I had sold to Cindy years ago. Still plays great.


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