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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 11:10 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 9:39 pm
Posts: 147
Location: Fredericksburg, Tx.
Late last fall, I had decided that my D flute was not giving access to enough other keys for my playing style, which is mainly accompanying t.v. and movie soundtracks. To remedy, I ordered a six-key delrin D from Dave Copley. Well, at least I put my name on the list. By March though, with the economy and the IRA in the tank I decided that it was a bad time for a major investment. So, change of plan. Instead, I ordered a delrin F flute from Dave which also increased the number of available keys, esp. the orchestral favorites, F and Bb.

I was stunned to find out how much more core work was involved in getting that F flute to sing. It really changed my whole outlook on what it even means to play the Irish flute, and I was having a blast. So I thought to myself, if that F flute was that much more challenging (and fun!) than the D, wouldn’t a fife take it to another level yet. One of my very few strokes of genius in a long while.

I ordered a used John McDonagh blackwood fife in Bb, (from Blayne at Irish Flute Store), stamped “Regimental Model”, which I understand is made by Cooperman. It is a beautiful little thing. Of course, I could barely make a sound on it initially, but this time only laughed about it as I had the exact same experience with the brand new F flute. But within three or four hours, I was playing the heck out of it, and it did indeed take my playing (and support of it) to another level altogether.

One little quirk that I was concerned with initially is that it is a seven-holer. I’d had no experience with such a set up and was not sure if I could make it work. (In fact, the Cooperman website does not list 7 holes as an option with the McDonagh.) And within two hours, my little finger had found a permanent home, with the indention of the hole also provided a little extra purchase. Then I was so pleased to find that that seventh hole sharps the Bb when open. Works like a charm, which has made me wonder why that little modification isn’t used on flutes in other keys. Could it just be a “reach” thing?

So now I have a trio of instruments that even covers Eb, (a pretty hot Eb at that), and I find myself grabbing the fife first when searching for a key. It is a delight to play, and I do feel like I’m getting a workout each time I do.

But here is another interesting fact that seems to have revealed itself due to my unusual method of practice and play. I’ve been a musician most of my life, and a working one at that. And yet, I knew enough to know that I still didn’t “get it”, i.e. the intuitive relationship of the notes in the scale to each other, regardless of key. But forcing myself to accompany a wide variety of arrangements in an assortment of keys on only a D flute somehow unlocked a life-long secret regarding that relationship.
And now adding the potential of the F flute and Bb fife is giving me even more and better opportunities. As a result, I feel like I’ve grown more as an actual musician in the last two years than in the previous twenty-five.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:27 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 01, 2016 6:54 am
Posts: 653
Location: Bischberg/Bavaria/Germany
Seems to be the same finger layout like a Japanese Shinobue then. I bought a cheap plastic one on ebay once. Boy, is it hard to play. Took me forever to even get a halfway decent sound and I think I have a pretty good embouchure. On the Shinobue the hole for the little finger is closed most of the time, except for the lowest notes of course. So it is slightly similar to a boehm flute.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2020 11:11 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2001 6:00 pm
Posts: 2393
McDonagh model fifes have been made with up to 11 finger holes (double hole on RH2).
I have several that date to the 1950s when they were originally made by piccolo maker Roy Seaman, an old friend of John McDonagh (who was also a dear ole friend of mine). I knew both men.
The Regimental Model was an effort at perfecting the earlier versions, although I doubt they really accomplished much more than they already had.
The older ones, made by Seaman, are still sought-after fifes of exceptional quality. I cherish mine, as I do the ones made out of several other species of woods.
Enjoy your fife. Just be sure to wear ear plugs. I didn't and have hardly any high-frequency hearing in my left ear anymore.
My fifes, btw....are on a wall rack display. I don't play them anymore. But they are all in top condition.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:07 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:47 am
Posts: 866
Location: Surrey/Hants border, England
I too, like the little 'flutes'. :wink:

I've got a 7 hole German plastic 'Bb' model, (& have been thinking about getting a 5 or 6 key Miller Browne for a while, just not sure if I really want 'keys').

I also have a Tony Dixon aluminium key of 'A' whistle with flute head that I enjoy playing, plus 4 high 'D' keyless models, including a Duo D; plus I have a Duo C that I can, & sometimes do, convert. :)

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Keith.
Trying to do justice to my various musical instruments.


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