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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2020 7:49 pm 
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I was given TONS of patient advice in the Whistle forum and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of a starter whistle in high D.
I started on Boehm flute but didn't stick with it after college - I'm in my mid 40s. Down the road I'd like to give a simple system flute a try. However, my budget (partly influenced by the fact that I'm at the "I'm just kind of curious" stage) precludes me from obtaining a decent flute at this point, so whistle it is (for now).

Since I'm into the idea of a flute, I will be saving for one and hope in a year or so that I can make an investment in a beginner's Irish flute.

I always wanted an alto when I was playing a Boehm - but they were out of reach financially. Is there an Irish (or simple system, keyed probably?) flute comparable to that pitch range? What attracts me to the simple system/irish flute sound is the mellow hint that it's flesh on open holes making the articulation - so I don't think I can picture how those notes would be possible without using the Boehm system - but I was curious and thought I'd ask.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2020 9:04 pm 
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Until someone more knowledgeable shows up, here's my $0.02 as someone who is still very much a learner on "Irish" flute (with some background in the music on mandolin).

First, don't delay in getting a flute. It will take a year, maybe more, to get your embouchure in shape for playing clean notes in both octaves. At that point it becomes a lifelong process of refinement. You can get a decent "Irish" flute in Delrin for not much money, and if you want a wooden flute there is the Casey Burns Folk Flute at around $450. Start on flute as soon as you can, because it's a hill to climb.

Regarding the "alto" flute, it's mainly a question of what you want to do, and where you want to go with the music. For playing with other musicians in the genres of Irish, Scottish, and related trad, we stick to the D and G keys and their relative minors. You can cover 99% of the Irish pub session repertoire with a keyless D flute, and may only need keys for a few tunes that depart from there. I finally got a keyed flute because there were enough tunes I wanted to play that really did need keys, and that I only play at home. I just depends on the tunes you have a strong desire to play.

For lower pitch, I have a strong desire to get a wooden "Irish' Bb flute one of these days (Bb as the fundamental tone, below the D). I have some recordings of tunes by Matt Molloy and Sylvain Barou where they take an Irish melody like a reel, and slow it down to play very expressively as a solo number with a low pitch on a Bb flute. That seems to be the go-to "low flute" for this kind of thing, at least in Irish trad, because the finger stretch is still somewhat manageable. Below Bb, you're getting into really difficult fingering ergonomics (although Casey Burns is experimenting with some neat ideas to deal with that).

A Bb flute is not something I'd ever be able to play in a session, but it would be fun to fool around with. My D flute will always be my main one for this music.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2020 9:49 pm 
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Seconding the above. Get a Casey Burns Folk Flute. There are two blackwood ones on the Irish Flute Store now. I have two - they are fantastic. The self deprecating name 'folk flute' is not well deserved, because they are full proper playing instruments, in no way toys or lesser instruments. In my view they are a 'decent flute' for sure.

Alto Boehm flutes are a fourth lower than the C flute, at G. I don't think anybody makes simple system flutes that low, for reasons of technical difficulty and finger reach. But there are many Bb flutes available. I think Casey Burns used to make A flutes as well as Bb ones.

Flook uses a Boehm alto flute. A wonderful instrument. But not a simple system instrument.

Don't wait a year because I think Casey has ceased production of the folk flutes (after making 3000 of them). No doubt he will confirm.

Andrew


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 1:13 am 
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Conical Bore makes the good point that it takes some time for your embouchure to develop, therefore you might as well start now. It's a life-long process, but fortunately, we have a life available.

I would make the point that the fingering on the D whistle is the same as simple system flute, so everything you learn there will transfer over. In particular, the whistle is tiny and fast, so it is suited to learning all the cuts, taps, rolls and other articulations that you will also use on the flute.

Flute Range?

Normally, flutes for ITM are in D with or without keys. Sometimes a keyed flute will add lower keys and go down to C, but very few ITM musicians bother with the C-foot.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 2:21 am 
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Andro wrote:
Alto Boehm flutes are a fourth lower than the C flute, at G.

Which actually makes them the equivalent of an A flute in six-finger terms, just as the standard Boehm has a six-finger D.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 3:29 am 
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Check out the Tony Dixon keyless ABS one piece flute, very good starter flute, & not expensive.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 3:52 am 
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I am still very much making Folk Flutes out of Blackwood and Boxwood. For a while I was entertaining rendering these with 3D printing but have abandoned that route. Eventually, I am hoping my student who lives in Canada takes over production of these. Difficulties getting the blackwood into Canada (CITES rules still apply to the raw material!) mean that she will be making these in other woods, potentially Acrylic-stabilized hardwoods. This transition will happen sometime in the next few years and until then I still plan to make these.

I still make lower flutes down to the key of A. I am redesigning the low A and adding a low G flute. Heady - note that we refer the name of these flutes to the pitch they play when all 6 fingers are down. Thius XXX XXX = D on our standard Irish flutes (and what we would call a C Flute in modern terms). So on the low A, XXX XXX plays the note A. This is also the common Alto flute pitch. My low G will be a whole step below it. In the Dayton Miller collection, there is a low F Alto flute that is essentially low G in Irish Flute terms. Only one of this pitch in the collection.

Deviations to the bore that maintain the acoustical length between holes yet bring these ergonomically closer together will be used on my models. I am in the midst of prototyping and designing these currently.

Casey

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 4:10 am 
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Sounds interesting. I once made a quena-style whistle/flute in G but I had to make some of the holes so small to even be able to reach them that intonation was really bad. It was made from a straight bore PVC pipe. It plays but barely.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 7:43 am 
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Cool - exactly the info I was looking for :)

YouTube searched and found people playing the Casey Burns Bb and A instruments <3
But as I suspected, probably too big for my hands, so I'll have to think about that. Maybe a Bb down the line.

I'll save up for a D. I'm not waiting just to let the idea marinate - at this moment I can afford an Ebay money eliminator, or I can wait. I know a few hundred dollars is a good deal for the suggested flutes - but I have a lot of kids and we're all into a few things. An oval hole mandolin is ahead of Irish flute in my toys queue, and I don't want to waste time with one of the garbage flutes the group has kindly saved us newbies via the E-bay-Flute sticky. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 10:37 am 
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Yes a D flute is a good idea and yes embouchure is a bear. I'm getting close after a year of work. An inexpensive delrin flute from a good maker is not a bad idea. Delrin is close to indestructable and can sound great. I would recommend getting one from someone who pays some close attention. In my experience n flute world paying more has gotten me a better flute, and when you are starting out it's great to have confidence that it's your fault and not the flute's.

I was just at an irish music event and lent my good flute to a very very fine professional player who made it abundantly clear that I have no excuses for poor sound!

I just got a Bb flute and am loving it, but it's not easy.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:18 pm 
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!I still make lower flutes down to the key of A. I am redesigning the low A and adding a low G flute. ....

So on the low A, XXX XXX plays the note A. This is also the common Alto flute pitch. My low G will be a whole step below it."


That's really lovely to hear! The alto flute plays down to low F (with an extended footjoint) as a G pitch orchestral instrument even if we here think of it as a fundamental of low A.

This would be amazing if your low G is this low. It's such a rich deep sound.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2020 2:34 am 
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Tonehole wrote:
The alto flute plays down to low F (with an extended footjoint) as a G pitch orchestral instrument even if we here think of it as a fundamental of low A.

Have you ever seen an alto flute with the equivalent of a Bb foot? I haven't! It has a six-finger A, with the standard foot keys adding G# and G. Even a B foot equivalent (sounding F#) is very rare.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:30 am 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
Have you ever seen an alto flute with the equivalent of a Bb foot? I haven't! It has a six-finger A, with the standard foot keys adding G# and G. Even a B foot equivalent (sounding F#) is very rare.



Yes - in front of me. I own one. Last week too - a friend played a gig in Hampstead London using a low B alto flute with the low F pitch. I took some footage but I don't think he used the low F in the song.

Vintage Armstrong and Gemeinhardt also made B foot alto flutes along with Gebruder Monnig, Eppler and Kingma. They aren't rare - but they aren't mass manufactured by contemporary flute makers like Trevor James, Pearl, Sankyo, Yamaha etc.

The alto flute is an ORCHESTRAL flute in the key of G major. The low F is a F# as read in the simple key of G major. It is not F natural as a Bb foot on a standard 6 hole flute would be. Different key.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:55 am 
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Tonehole wrote:
They aren't rare - but they aren't mass manufactured by contemporary flute makers like Trevor James, Pearl, Sankyo, Yamaha etc.

I was actually looking at this one (by Sankyo, but clearly not mass-manufactured) as I typed:
https://www.justflutes.com/shop/product/sankyo-af301sbe-alto-flute-product71963.html

Quote:
The alto flute is an ORCHESTRAL flute in the key of G major. The low F is a F# as read in the simple key of G major. It is not F natural as a Bb foot on a standard 6 hole flute would be. Different key.

Yes, I know what it is and what it's not! But don't understand why you didn't just say 'plays down to low F#'...

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