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 Post subject: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2020 9:22 pm 
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I bought the cocus ten key Siccama flute on Blayne’s site (The Irish Flute Store (if you click on Sold flutes you can see picture)). It is too soon to know quite what it is, except that it seems to be something extraordinarily good. For those who may not know: a problem with early 19th century flutes was that the holes, if placed in the acoustically right place, could not be reached by the human hand. So tuning was a compromise, the conical bore was exploited to bring the holes closer, and the result was often lovely flutes with tuning anomalies. What Siccama and his partner/foreman Hudson did, around 1850, was place the holes in the acoustically proper place and add keys at L3 and R3 to enable the player to reach the holes easily. The result was an in tune flute, comfortable and agile, with a strong and beautiful sound. Also Siccama and Hudson lavished extraordinary craftsmanship on these instruments. It seems they tweaked the simple system flute to make it more comfortable and better in tune and thereby created a worthy rival to the incoming Boehm flute (the Siccama was still being manufactured in the early 20th century). It is, perhaps, both the perfection of the simple system flute and not quite simple system anymore.


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2020 3:37 pm 
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AH, Congrats Jim!
have a look at Terry's pages on Siccama, expecially the one on Extant Flutes: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Sicc_Ext.htm

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 Post subject: Re: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2020 3:45 pm 
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Lovely Jim. Congratulations on quite a flute!

Is your Hudson bore much different from the Pratten Perfected bore of the later Siccama flutes?

Will be great to hear some clips when you can.


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2020 3:47 pm 
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Yes, congratulations. That is one splendid-looking instrument. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2020 5:19 pm 
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Thank you. Been to Terry's site. I bought 227, which is listed there. Terry is pro-Siccama. Flutefry's posts on earlier threads on Siccama's also moved me. He had tried all sorts of flutes, looking for the 'magic flute,' and found it in the Siccama. It seemed worth a try. Also, while my hands are fine I'm still pushing 80, and I expect I can play the Siccama more years than alternatives. Also I hope it will make me a better musician. It seems to be able to easily enough play the notes a Boehm flute can play and still feel like one of our flutes. And I can sell it if ever I have to, though I have no such plan. I'm hardly affluent, but it isn't as though I pissed the money away on beer. It's especially neat to be happy about something these days. Blessings!


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2020 5:31 pm 
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That is a gorgeous, fascinating instrument. Congrats!


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2020 6:02 pm 
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Tonehole, I don't know anything about the bore of later Siccama flutes, I'm afraid. This is the first such flute I've ever seen. This one seems to me to sound something like a powerful large-holed cocus Rudall, however who knows what it will sound like after I play it for a few weeks.


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2020 7:59 pm 
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Good choice. I had my eye on that one for quite a while. It's clearly gone to a good home. A treasure.


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2020 9:59 pm 
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Jim, congratulations on your Siccama! If like mine, it needs fettling, Jon Cornia did a great job mine (repaired cracks, new short F, adjusting springs, new pewter plug for the C key, getting the foot keys functioning beautifully, all at a very reasonable price.

Hugh

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 Post subject: Re: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2020 3:33 am 
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jim stone wrote:
Tonehole, I don't know anything about the bore of later Siccama flutes, I'm afraid. This is the first such flute I've ever seen. This one seems to me to sound something like a powerful large-holed cocus Rudall, however who knows what it will sound like after I play it for a few weeks.


I can comment on that. The Siccama bore and the Prattens bore seem pretty much identical, given of course that different instruments may have suffered different ways over the long intervening period. Which makes them bigger than the largest Rudall bores, giving both instruments a full-bodied sound.

I feel Siccama marks a turning point in period flute making. He strikes me as a person prepared to go well beyond where others go. And he's left a paper trail much richer than probably any maker before or since. Very interesting to note that Pratten had provided him with three testimonials, two of which Siccama published in his 1851 pamphlet "The Newly Invented Diatonic Flute".

112 Stamford street, Oct 1848
I gave you my opinion of your Diatonic Flute, in a letter dated August 1847; I had then played upon it about four months. I now assure you that every day I have become more convinced that it is the only Flute that can be said to be in perfect tune. Many eminent musicians who have heard me play upon it concur in the opinion which I now must candidly give you, and further it is my conviction, that every Flute-player must ultimately come to the same conclusion.
(signed) ROBERT SIDNEY PRATTEN

62 Upper Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square, May 28, 1851
In giving you my testimonial to the merit of the Diatonic Flute, I cannot in stronger terms express myself than to say I have now played upon it for four years, and consider it the most perfect instrument that has ever been manufactured; especially considering the recent improvements you have made, which must be hailed by all flute-players.
(signed) ROBERT SIDNEY PRATTEN
First Flute at the Royal Italian Opera

Many more period testimonials and press reviews at: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Sicc-1851.htm

Pratten later took up with Siccama's "able coadjutor" Hudson to develop the Siccama design back to an 8-key and on to more complex keying systems. http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Hudson.htm

Note that a coadjutor is a bishop appointed to assist and sometimes succeed a sitting bishop. The term was used by Rockstro to describe Hudson. Rockstro was positive about Hudson, adulating about Pratten, but scathing against Siccama. Professional jealousy is the most likely explanation. He slandered Boehm and Clinton similarly. He was not in their league.


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2020 6:21 am 
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Jim's Hudson Siccama bore preceded the Pratten Perfected bore in 1848. I saw on your link Terry, that the Siccama bores weren't called Pratten Perfected bores (a later patent). I was wondering how come the Pratten Perfected become patented and used when the Siccama - Boosey Hawkes venture arose, creating a number of stunning Siccama Pratten Perfecteds whereas the Siccama bore seems to have had less of a legacy.

This bit: "I consider it [the Siccama flute] the most perfect instrument that has ever been manufactured; especially considering the recent improvements you have made, which must be hailed by all flute-players."

is very striking. Perhaps its the keyed third fingerings which forms a hurdle for open hole players. I love the Siccama's open tones.

Did the Siccama ever make it into iterations for longer flutes where the third finger holes would benefit from the placement of keyed hole reaches,using the same wide bore principle?


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2020 8:37 am 
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Hi, Hugh. This particular flute is in apparently perfect shape. No cracks, lightly sprung, the keys sealing very well, including the two bottom keys. The owner who sold it through Blayne, by every appearance has kept the flute in fine condition, perhaps a flutesmyth.

Just want to plug The Irish Flute Store. Some very good flutes pass through, and Blayne (who has forgotten more about flutes than I will ever know) is great to deal with.


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2020 6:39 pm 
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Tonehole wrote:
Jim's Hudson Siccama bore preceded the Pratten Perfected bore in 1848. I saw on your link Terry, that the Siccama bores weren't called Pratten Perfected bores (a later patent). I was wondering how come the Pratten Perfected become patented and used when the Siccama - Boosey Hawkes venture arose, creating a number of stunning Siccama Pratten Perfecteds whereas the Siccama bore seems to have had less of a legacy.

I don't believe that Pratten flutes were ever the subject of a patent. Siccama's flute was a dramatic development away from what had gone before, and so it was appropriate, easy and important for Siccama to seek Patent protection. In fact his patent covers four ideas: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Siccama%20Patent.html

But as you can see from http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Prattens-Extant.htm , most of Boosey & Co's (the later maker of the Prattens design) were 8 keys, although there were a small number with up to 14 keys. No dramatic advances, just a few additional keys, probably added by request of certain players for personal reasons.

And the earlier maker of Prattens Perfected, Hudson "from Siccama", seems to have made mostly 8-keys. http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Hudson.htm . Given the clear inheritance of the Prattens Perfected design from the Siccama, and the clear paper trail of Hudson "from Siccama" making them, and then ending up working at Boosey's, I think they would have seen it wiser to just make and sell flutes, not pretend they had invented them!

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This bit: "I consider it [the Siccama flute] the most perfect instrument that has ever been manufactured; especially considering the recent improvements you have made, which must be hailed by all flute-players."
is very striking. Perhaps it's the keyed third fingerings which forms a hurdle for open hole players. I love the Siccama's open tones.

Yes. I think the greatly improved tuning must have opened a lot of eyes at the time. And I agree, even though the 3rd and 6th holes are now better placed and much larger than on our normal 6-holed flutes, they still don't speak with quite the clarity of the four remaining open holes. I guess having a pad hanging over your head still adds aerodynamic and absorptive losses. Still, the reduced finger stretch is lovely!

Quote:
Did the Siccama ever make it into iterations for longer flutes where the third finger holes would benefit from the placement of keyed hole reaches,using the same wide bore principle?

You mean longer flutes as in alto and bass flutes? I think I have seen such things.

All of this reminds me that there is a story yet to be unravelled and told about Siccama's flutes. They are not all the exact same, as can be seen in the C#-D# lengths column in http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Sicc_Ext.htm

And of course this has implications for the Pratten design - which variation did it follow and why. My Prattens Perfected original closely follows the 246mm length (as in Siccama #497) and is very clearly different from the 253mm length (as in Siccama #321).

Sigh. No rest for the wicked...


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 4:10 pm 
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Thanks Terry - that's so helpful.

That seems to suggest that that when Boosey & Hawkes acquired the Pratten design from Hudson, somewhere along the line, later, it become the Pratten Perfected with no patent - but in open competition with the Nicholson Perfected perhaps? Then the Siccama design is remembered for its acoustic correct fingering third finger keys, and sadly not the bore design, which most flute makers commonly refer to as a 'Pratten body', rather than referencing by the Siccama bore from which the Pratten Perfected derived from.

With the alto or bass Siccama model (if any), I was wondering if the Siccama designation refers to the acoustically correct 3rd finger keys in place, or whether the bore was indeed widened too. I've only even seen one though and the bore didn't look any wider.


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 Post subject: Re: Siccama 227
PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 5:45 pm 
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Does the original pratten perfected have a powerful, open sound, especially at the bottom, and a tendency to honk?


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