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Beginner question
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Author:  Squeeky Elf [ Mon Apr 06, 2020 1:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner question

I have Copely F in derlin and a Copely D in blackwood. I don't think you can go wrong with one of his flutes. The Derlin model is less expensive without the rings, and the serve no purpose other than adding a little bling. Personally, I like the stealthy look without the rings..

Author:  TomFoolery [ Wed Apr 08, 2020 5:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner question

tstermitz wrote:
To the original point about Pratten vs Rudall. My large-holed Rudall is much louder than my medium-small holed 19th C antique. But, I didn't achieve consistent, tone volume or quality on either flute until recently, after 3 - 4 years of flute.

Training the embouchure to be focussed is key, and that comes with time and effort. I do feel that the extra effort of working with the smaller embouchure on my Firth, Pond & Co flute helped before going to the more generous Gallagher. The FPC forced me to learn tighter focus and control.

The other secrets were: playing long tones soft & loud, playing notes in the third register (C, C# D, Eb & E), softly and loudly. That last one was really the final effort that has made the biggest difference; two weeks of high register work totally transformed my playing.

I acknowledge that "effort" actually means achieving fine motor control and learning to relax, as pointed out in the other thread.

It's interesting you say that - I have an analogous experience with penny whistle. I picked up a Feadog and an Oak, and noticed the Oak was much more temperamental - it had lower back pressure and demanded good breath control, whereas the Feadog was quite forgiving. I'm not sure if I'm a masochist or just heard something I liked in the Oak, but for whatever reason that one became my practice whistle, then my go-to for everything, and I'm glad for it, because after the steeper initial curve the extra control I learned was really helpful - although I still have issues going further up the second octave of the Feadog.

I'll keep everything else you said in mind for flute (when it becomes relevant) - patience, practice, and patience - and of course, when that's done, relaxing, and doing it all over while relaxed!

Sedi wrote:
The main factor when it comes to air-consumption of a flute is your own technique and the effectiveness of the embouchure cut. The size of the holes plays less of a role. You don't really "fill" a flute, you just let the air column inside vibrate. The holes have an influence on other things, though. Bigger holes make half-holing easier. That can be a factor when trying to play chromatic notes on a keyless flute. On a keyed flute it doesn't matter though. Also larger holes make a flute sound a bit more "boehm-like" and cleaner (which of course is also very much influenced by your technique). Smaller holes can add some "breathiness" to the sound. But that is also very much influenced by the design, like undercuts on the tone holes, the thickness of the wall, etc.

Interesting that "breathiness" might come from small holes but "reediness" from large. That said, I've seen enough of the guitar world to understand the oddities in how musicians describe sound and tone.

As to your point, though, I have to ask the question; does that mean when people talk about "filling" a flute, it actually has far more to do with the embouchure cut than bore/any other factors? I understand the holes not having much to do with it outside of how intonated/cleanly cut they are and style of undercut (which I'm sure is also a far more complex issue than I'm currently aware), but doesn't it make at least some sense that more air to vibrate requires more energy on your part? Or, again, is this all more to do with embouchure cut?

Conical bore wrote:
I was a beginner 6 years ago, coming at it from a mandolin ITM background. I started on a very nice keyless Pratten-style wooden flute, and then bought a Rudall-style wooden keyed flute that suits me much better.

From that experience, my opinion is that these distinctions don't matter when you're first starting out. It will take years, literally years to get your embouchure and your breathing in shape. Buy a good flute of either design to start with. Work on your embouchure, and worry about Rudall vs. Pratten styles later.

I think there is some merit in what Terry McGee says here in the forum often, about finding the flute that fits you. That may take a while, and more than one flute experiment. I was lucky to find my perfect fit on the second try.

Coming from mandolin? Similar boat as me! That's pretty cool - interesting, too; I'm in New England at the moment and mandolin seems very out of favor for ITM here, at least the sessions I've been to. I mention mandolin and people ask me to bring my tenor banjo instead - which I don't mind, because I like tenor more (currently - these things change :wink: ), but it is interesting to me.

Also, duly noted on the embouchure. I'm thinking between taking up running and taking up flute, in another 3 or 4 years I won't ever have to worry about asthma, the way you guys are talking! It'll be like Teddy Roosevelt curing his with exercise and coffee

Latticino wrote:
My recommendation would be to get a Gary Somers small bore Rudall. I have one and find it significantly easier to fill than more Pratten inspired flutes I've played in the past. Actually my antique Wm Hall and sons is even easier to fill (but they, and the similar Firth, Hall, Pond, area a little harder to come by). I suppose you could go for a McGee GLP as well, which is reportedly modeled after the Firth Hall and Pond, but they are more costly.

As others have said, developing your embouchure will be the main battle

That one has been on my radar for a while. It's harder to get in the left-Atlantic - as a matter of fact I just sent Dave Copley an email to inquire, as between the glowing reviews, knowledge that I like the sound, and practical considerations, that seemed like the best option for now. That said, if I'm just starting a flute journey that's going to be years in the making, and have time to think about finding the right flute...

Thanks all for your input, by the way - I definitely learned a bit reading all the replies here

Author:  tstermitz [ Wed Apr 08, 2020 8:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner question

I'm in New England at the moment and mandolin seems very out of favor for ITM here, at least the sessions I've been to.

I don't think anybody would kick Marla Fibish out of their session. She's a joyful and skillful player.

I think "fill" is not well-defined. It probably means evoke resonance, and that is mostly about embouchure efficiency and focus, not air volume. My large-holed flute presents a lot of tonal volume without much more air than my small-holde.

Check for available used flutes.

Interesting that "breathiness" might come from small holes but "reediness" from large.

I'm thinking of breathy as the sound air makes in excess of a more pure tone. That seems to me it would be a waste of efficiency, but I asked Kevin Crawford at a workshop whether the breathy quality in his tone was intentional, and he said "Yes, of course."

I'm not sure this true. To my knowledge these tonal qualities come mostly from the player's embouchure choice, and probably somewhat from the flute's embouchure cut. As you get better you can shape how much roundedness or reediness you want. I can get a good reedy buzz out of both flutes (if/when I want), although the large-holed Gallagher seems to be more easily provoked than the small-holed FPC.

Some players absolutely honk, which isn't to my taste. I tend to prefer a more sweet tonal quality. On the other end Chris Norman plays with extreme sensitivity and sweetness, for which he gets some criticism from more hard-core ITM musicians. My current fav is Steph Geremia, who has wonderful tone control.

Author:  Sedi [ Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner question

True of course -- the player's embouchure very much influences the sound. But the holes themselves have an influence too. It's easy to notice for example on a baroque flute with very small holes. It has more of a "veiled" quality. Tough to put names on those sound qualities. The effect is very noticable on some flutes on the "E" in the first octave because that is often the smallest hole and even on conical flutes does sometimes sound weaker -- another factor influencing that is also the thickness of the wall, a deeper chimney makes the sound cleaner and also influences the tuning of cross-fingered notes (that's why the typical German marching flutes with a cylindrical body have special "chimneys" attached to the holes, so all the cross-fingerings work and the flute is fully chromatic and in tune, wich is also facilitated by a tuning rod in the head).
One very influential factor is the placement of the stopper. Since I only make cylindrical flutes (yes, they can be made to play in tune up to the third octave despite internet "knowledge") I have to adjust the stopper according to hole size so there is really two factors at play. And that "reedy" and boomy sound, you will only get with a larger distance of the stopper (it doesn't have to be the 19mm of a normal simple system flute though) from the embouchure (one millimeter can make a huge difference in sound everything else being equal) and that cannot be completely compensated by the player's own embouchure. There is a sweetspot of course which produces the optimum in "power" and the best tuning (depending on the hole size). I have a David Angus flute (low D) that has the stopper set at 17mm like a boehm flute and I think that is one of the reasons it is a bit tricky to get the most booming sound at the low notes but the smaller embouchure hole also accounts for that. But it plays very easily into the 3rd octave for example. A rather "sweet" sounding flute.
A certain breathiness can be achieved by having a slightly broader lip-position so more air hits the edge at a slightly "imperfect" angle which will produce air noise. Therefore classical flutes (but also "Irish" flutes) have a shoulder cut, which means the parts not necessary to make a sound are rounded to produce less wind noise because you are aiming for a very clean sound on the boehm flute.
Also when determining how much air a flute takes, the size and shape of the embouchure cut is an important factor. The "rounded rectangle" or almost square embouchure might be better for beginners because even with a sloppy embouchure some air hits the edge at the right spot to produce a sound, which however will lead to more air being needed. But a trained embouchure can produce a very narrow air-stream so you don't need that much "sounding edge" to get a good sound. Therefore some embouchure cuts seem more or less efficient depending on how much air "escapes".
That's what I love about flutes, simple design yet not so simple interaction between parts.

Author:  rogervj [ Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner question

As a disclaimer right up front, I am selling the Shannon mentioned. I would like to weigh in with my experience since I own both the Shannon and a Copley delrin. I bought the Shannon to start on and found it easy to play ergonomically and to get a clean, loud sound. Since then I have picked up a Casey Burns Rudal and a Copley delrin.

As far as loudness, I find that my embouchure makes more of a difference in volume than the style. I can play the Burns just as loudly as the Copley or Shannon. The difference I find is that I have to work harder on one flute over the other. Here is my impression on volume; the Shannon is the easiest, the Burns next and the Copley the hardest volume-wise.

For ergonomics I would rank the Shannon the easiest, the Burns next and the Copley the last as far as weight, balance and ease of fingering (although personally I prefer the Burns Rudal smaller tone holes).

Aesthetically between the Shannon and the Copley, the Copley is the more traditional looking and sounding. This is, of course, by design.

I am looking to move on to a keyed flute so I decided to sell one. I went back and forth about either the Shannon or Copley. I finally decided on the Shannon because, oddly enough, the Copley is more difficult to play. It forces me to be technically better to produce a good sound. I find as this stage of my playing that this makes me a better player. If I had started on the Copley, I would have struggled more as a beginner.

It has been said here, and I agree, that what flute suits you will change as you progress on the instrument and as you figure what you like or dislike about each makers style. Variety is the spice of life...

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