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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 12:55 pm 
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I'm a classically trained flautist, and I've been playing Irish music on my Boehm flute for a while. I want to start learning Irish flute, and I'm trying to figure out which flute would be the best fit for me.

My budget is around $450 (I might be able to stretch $500). I've been playing classical flute for years, so I don't THINK embouchure should be much of an issue (?). I am very petite though, so perhaps something with smaller holes? And I'm not totally opposed to a Delrin flute. Overall, I'm looking for something not too expensive but that I will hopefully not outgrow in the near future.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 1:42 pm 
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The Dave Copley bottom of the line delrin flute is very good. I've played one
busking for years, and it's generally well thought of. Within your budget.
I like the one without rings, looks elegant and rings would be non-functional given
the material, and the delrin slide is quite good enough for
sessions and so on. The reach is good. This is a near professional Irish flute, I would say.
Also you can sell it if ever you want something better.
There are other good makers that people will recommend.
By the way, Dave will put in a C natural thumb hole (left hand)
for free.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 3:09 pm 
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There are some 'Irish style' players who play a Boehm flute - Joanie Madden of Cherish the ladies is a great player.

In the second half of this video she's playing one - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOrU5sVUyqs


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 4:14 pm 
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I have session mates with tiny hands who play a very large holed flute. In general, a small-holed flute is more nimble; a large-hole is louder. Small holed flutes tend to make cross-fingered accidentals easier or possible. Eb is the one accidental that is deadly-difficult, so if you can afford ONE key, the Eb is probably most important.

I notice there are several Casey Burns flutes at the irishflutestore.com , including two under $400.

A keyless flute will easily play in the keys of D and G.

If you want to play accidentals or in other keys (A, C or F, for example), the irishflutestore lists a couple five-key french flute at $500, and these are reputed to be sweet players. As low flutes, you can't really play with others in a session - It's hard to get the concertina player to retune. I'd also call your attention to the Christman at $500. From the description, it might need additional repairs, but American flutes from this era tend to be pretty good. Prices at this store do correspond to quality, so the more useful or quality offerings will be at $1,200 and up. You get a week trial before returning.

Antique flutes tend to have a smaller embouchure, which requires you to learn focus. Modern flutes tend to be easier to blow. Not that I like wearing a hair shirt, but I feel I have benefited by the extra effort.

I'm not sure what the purpose of a thumb-hole for C would be. Personally, after meeting several dozen flute players, I don't know any one who has a C thumb-hole.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 4:45 pm 
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Delrin, with offset holes, suitable for small hands - Damian Thompson makes one, costs about £180.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:17 pm 
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tstermitz wrote:
I'm not sure what the purpose of a thumb-hole for C would be.

1. Same as a C key, giving you another possible C fingering.
2. Venting C#, which otherwise typically tends to flatness.

Personally I love C thumb holes on flutes (because the geometry's right) and hate them on whistles (because it's not). While I still play forked C nats (OXOXXX and OXXOOO) more than thumb-holed ones, I almost always vent C# on flute (which also overblows accurately enough that way to render OXXXOO unnecessary) and see that as a natural thing for a Boehm player to do. I wouldn't advise getting too used to or dependent on a thumb hole on keyless if contemplating a standard keyed layout with LH Bb key, but that's not an issue for me because I can't play those anyway*, and it's perfect on my custom four-key with RH Bb and G#.

*Well, I could play the Bb key, but not the G#, and everything ultimately got configured round that!

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:34 pm 
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Second this, with the caveat that I use the C nat thumb hole
a great deal, along with cross fingering. I like the C natural key on a keyed flute, too. I have virtually no trouble moving back and forth tween the two.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 7:37 pm 
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I second the above recommendation of a Dave Copley flute. Great flute for a great price.

Tim


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 7:53 pm 
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You could get a Casey Burns Folk Flute with that budget, and despite the name it's a "real" Irish flute that's a great starter instrument. As a wooden flute, it might help get you in the spirit of the tradition which originated in wooden 19th Century conical bore flutes. That's one reason I prefer wooden flutes, but there are still some fine flutes in Delrin and other synthetic materials at that price point.

Regarding the C thumb hole, I think the main argument against it, is that it could limit your choices later on as upgrades since most "Irish" flutes don't include it. And you might limit the resale value if you do have it added to a flute that doesn't have one. Personally, I haven't found a problem flapping two fingers up and down to get a OXXOOO C natural at fast reel tempos, and rarely use the Cnat key on my keyed flute.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 10:43 pm 
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Several points that almost never are brought up when C thumb holes are discussed can be summarized in the archaic term sensitive notes. These are particularly pertinent to the wooden conic flutes favored by ´Irish Fluters´ and tin whistle players. Rockstro had quite a lot to say about them, in particular with respect to alternate fingerings. He was active pretty much during a period before tempered scales became prevalent.
A C key gives greater facility for rapid articulation, without removing the various opportunities for ´shaded´ fingerings. A C thumb hole gives the illusion that C natural has a fixed value, and should have. Personally, I find this idea repulsive in Irish music. A close listening to the old masters of the pipes and fiddles, the premier models for this music, reveals the multitudinous shades of F, F#, C natural, C#, and C ´super-sharp´ that lend the wonderful complex tonalities that give it strength and power. The modal nature, often with indeterminate keys, of this music is enhanced and driven by this shading. Whistlers, often more than fluters, are able to slide up and down into notes to great effect, and can´follow´ the pipers and fiddlers in this regard.
[Rant Mode] Irish music isn´t and shouldn´t be homogenized soft serve vanilla ice cream [End Rant Mode]. :D

Bob

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:20 am 
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an seanduine wrote:
A C key gives greater facility for rapid articulation, without removing the various opportunities for ´shaded´ fingerings. A C thumb hole gives the illusion that C natural has a fixed value, and should have.

Why does a C key give more acceptable facility for rapid articulation than a thumb hole, or a thumb hole remove further opportunities or create some illusion of pitch that a key doesn't?

They both do the same job, and it's what you do with them rather than which you have that determines the answers.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:02 am 
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Speaking as a novice flute player but a decent musician there are times when I just love the "slightly out of tune" quality of the keyless flute and find the keyed flute vanilla-sounding or "off." Then there are times when the slightly out of tune quality of the cross fingered C natural sounds terrible.

It seems to me that it's a matter of learning how to play the particular instrument--how to make the out-of-tune note slightly less out of tune, or how to phrase the tune so the out of tune quality isn't a deficit, but a feature.

The one keyed flute I own has lot of problems, but it seems to me a good keyed flute gives you useful options


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:47 am 
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Ah yes, the C Super Sharp, or as I've heard it called, the "Piper's C" or "C Supernatural." I first learned about that when playing mandolin on certain tunes in a local session with players of fiddles, whistle, and smallpipes.

I sometimes mix partial or full chords within the melody line on mandolin, and whenever I threw in a C major chord in a D mixolydian tune, it sounded sour in that particular session. I eventually figured out that the fiddlers were instinctively following the slightly sharped pitch of the Cnat that was being played by the whistle and pipes. My 12 Tone Equal Temperament mandolin was just far enough off to clash with it.

On flute I don't have that problem. :) I'm usually hitting that diatonic C Supernatural (or something very close to it) with cross fingering where the note is a wee bit high. That may be one reason I seldom use the C key, because while the note is less veiled than cross fingered Cnat, it's right on that 12 TET pitch when the the tuning slide is set right, and my embouchure is in good shape that day. Sounds okay when I'm playing alone, but it blends so much better when playing with pipes, or with a fiddler who instinctively goes a little sharp on the C natural in Irish and Scottish trad.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 1:25 pm 
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Conical bore wrote:
... whenever I threw in a C major chord in a D mixolydian tune, it sounded sour in that particular session.

In basic Trad backup, distinctly major or minor chords are actually unnecessary for the most part and, as you found out, can even be undesirable. Sometimes this has to do with tuning, but sometimes it has to do with tune structure; in all cases it's just as likely to be overkill. The most foolproof thing a Trad accompanist can do is to use indeterminate (also called "open" or "power") chords, and go from there in finding what variants work, and what don't. In most cases the melody's phrases will already clearly indicate a major or minor nature even without accompaniment, so pinning down the obvious with an analogous third isn't so much support as it is an over-emphasis that sounds, frankly, crude and galumphing. It's rather like waking someone with a trombone when a gentle voice would have done.

I say this as a Trad backup player myself: In all things basic, backers, let the tune rule. Remember that it doesn't need you, and that there is a big difference between support and dictation.

Sorry for the sidetrack. Carry on.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:01 pm 
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Ah, now I understand about the C-hole, and that it is a particular design decision for keyless flutes.

The underlying point in this discussion is that flutes vary in their tuning idiosyncrasies, and the middle C#/C issue is a compromise required by the finger spacing requirements and flute intonation problems across other notes and registers.

I've recently come to deal with the C# being a bit flat and the C-nat being a bit sharp. Tuning was acceptable on my small-holed antique, but not on my new, large-holed rudall. I have always used OXO XXX for my C-natural, and OOO XXX for C#, partly because those fingerings permit rolls on the C or C# note, but also, the OOO XXX has better tonal clarity.

I never bothered with the C-nat key for C-natural, but have recently been using it to help vent the C#. It has a slight but insufficient effect on the tuning, but it does open the note up slightly. To pull C and C# into tune, I actually need to use my lips to shift the tuning slightly.

To the OP's point, she has received advice that keyless flutes in the $400 - $500 range are available in Delrin or wood. These flutes can be sold for a minor loss if she wishes to change to keyless later.


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