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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 1:06 pm 
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I'm curious if Irish/Scottish trad players with keyed "Irish" flutes consider the Cnat key essential, or just an occasional convenience, or do without it completely?

Reason I'm asking -- I have a keyed flute with what I suspect is a very slightly leaky Cnat key. Not sure if it's the pad (it's been re-padded twice) or the spring tension. Since that upper hole affects the strength of every note below it, for now I've just plugged the key hole with paraffin and I'm cross-fingering the note. I can play fine that way, but there are times when I wonder if a certain passage wouldn't be easier using the key.

As I don't have easy access to a repair tech under the current pandemic, I was wondering if I should take the trouble to re-pad or re-spring the key myself, or just continue with cross-fingering. How useful do you find the Cnat key in your playing? Is anyone out there just saying "the heck with it, I'll cross finger instead"?


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 1:52 pm 
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Yup, all the time, but it is not essential. If your plug is reversible I currently have a rubber band wrapped around the long Cnat on my Wilkes. You are in good company if you do. There are some famous folks seen around with rubber banded keyss and electrical taped barrels.

Most of us don't really have a wooden flute tech at our fingertips even in the best of times. When I have had to have work done in I've usually sent my flute off.

Re-padding and re-springing a key may be complicated. I'd likely attempt re-padding as an act of desperation. But I'd leave the spring tension up to someone else. But that is just me.

Occasionally a key can bind if there is gunk in the block where it pivots on the pin. That is an easy clean out.

Though once you put wax in-- it might be easier to get in than get out without affecting the hole. So I am not sure how to advise you on that one.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:16 pm 
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Have you checked the action of the key very carefully? Is it closing fully and on target? Sometimes pad compression or a slight knock bending the key can cause the underside of the shank to hit the tube before the pad seals fully - adjusting spring tension (very easy) won't improve anything if that's so. Or a slight sideways bend or twist of the shank may mean the cup isn't centred on or parallel with the pad seat. Or it could just be slack play in the keyway letting the key fall off-true. Open and let it close multiple times with different angles of pressure on the touch to open it and watch whether it falls differently different times. Lots of possibilities. The first thing is to identify the actual problem. As a first step I'd check those alignments and action from all angles and that there are no obstructions. If those aspects look OK and the pad face doesn't look damaged and the pad seat is clean and has no damage, try refloating the pad.

BTW, I'm very much a user of the C key whenever it's the more convenient choice, and I also routinely vent it for open C#s wherever feasible.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:54 pm 
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I use it a lot. On rolls, for ease, and airs where a clearer Cnat is needed. Sometimes it is better for me than a cross fingered note. I would guess I use it almost half of the time I am playing a Cnat. If mine went out I would get it fixed.

My least used keys are the long F, rarely, and my Bb, never. Yet. I use my keys more than I thought I would!


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:22 pm 
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I'm also using the C nat. key about 40% of the time. It's really great for cutting the B, not so much if I'm going up to d in a hurry. There are times when the non-keyed fingerings work well as the covered sound and dare-I-say-it "interesting" intonation give a flavor to the tune that can be quite expressive, especially on a slower tune.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:57 pm 
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I have only ever used the OXO XXX for C-nat, which has worked so far for all my instruments - with a little lipping effort on my Gallager. That fingering and the one with C-nat key provide the least veiled tone. It depends on the flute.

I'm coming around to Jem's point of view that there is value to having the "correct" 19th fingerings under my hands. Not because my present flute requires it, but it leaves me flexible for future flutes.
- Eb vent when playing E, and pressed in most case when possible.
- C-nat when playing C# (I've never needed this on whistle or flute, but...)
- F-nat when playing F#, and pressed in most case when possible.
- Vented middle D: OXX XXX (I've never needed this on whistle or flute, but...)
- Rockstro hold to leave the left thumb available. (I should have learned this from Day One)

The reason I'm coming to this point of view, is that changing habits is hard, so it is best to do it "right" from the start. I suffered at first to hold down the Eb, and it definitely helps the tone of E on most flutes. The Rockstro hold ends up being so much more relaxed than a death-grip on the left thumb. F-nat while playing F#, G, A, etc is comfy and helps with some rolls, even if it isn't strictly necessary. C-nat on C# does remove some veiling.

It may be worth taking the COVID time to learn C-nat properly, as well as other 19th C fingerings.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:27 am 
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tstermitz, I wouldn't advocate keeping an F key open except when playing F or F# or higher fingerings requiring it. There's no advantage/point in constantly venting it, unlike the Eb key. You won't see doing so indicated on any period charts.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:39 am 
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I use the C nat key a lot and also sometimes the cross fingered C nat. Mostly it depends on the passage I'm playing which of the two I use. Some transitions are easier one way, others the other. The key gives me a stronger C natural. I'd get it fixed.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:04 pm 
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Quote:
tstermitz, I wouldn't advocate keeping an F key open except when playing F or F# or higher fingerings requiring it. There's no advantage/point in constantly venting it, unlike the Eb key. You won't see doing so indicated on any period charts.


Point Taken, Jem.

I have found that I often keep the F-nat key down on G notes when I'm playing in F. Convenience, I guess.

None of the flutes of my acquaintance have required the F-nat key to vent the F#.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:43 pm 
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tstermitz wrote:
Quote:
None of the flutes of my acquaintance have required the F-nat key to vent the F#.

I'd say just about every keyed simple system flute I own and the vast majority of all those I've met/tried benefit from venting an F key for F#!

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2020 10:11 pm 
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Hi all

I reckon the (upper) c key is my most used key by far, although I sometimes crossfinger as well (usually with oxx xox).

Any woodwind repairer should be able to reseat it for you, conical flute, if you don't feel happy doing it yourself. The clarinet has a lot in common with our flutes.

Or there are instructions at: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/repad.html


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 4:01 am 
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I'd second the suggestion that any competent woodwind repairer should be able to fix a leaky pad/badly set spring. The Clarinet has numerous keys that are similar.

I don't have a C Nat key, but a thumb hole which I use almost all the time, although I am working towards building in the 0x0xxx fingering where it is obviously what the tune demands - e.g. runs bcd. I am also trying to be able to use the cross fingering as an alternative anywhere so that I am not completely lost when picking up other flutes...

The CNat hole (keyed or thumb) is a much stronger, clearer and more easily in tune note, but sometimes that is not what you want. Also, going from C Nat thumbhole to D smoothly requires practice since you go from holding the flute with one finger on it and then move to putting the thumb and all the others down while lifting the one finger that used to be on the flute... The C key has a similar problem.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:50 pm 
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I do a mixture. I played for a lot of years before I ever got a flute with a Cnat key, and I still play more one-key than six-key. So using the key is a hard habit to develop. I'm really really trying to use it playing 19th and 20th century music, which I don't play on keyless or traverso at all, but it's easier said than done.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 3:03 pm 
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. I'm curious enough now about the additional fingering options to attempt a fix of the Cnat key myself. I'm reluctant to ship the flute off to a repair tech, because I don't have a backup and I don't want to be flute-less for too long. It might eventually come to that, but I'll see what I can do first.

tstermitz wrote:
It may be worth taking the COVID time to learn C-nat properly, as well as other 19th C fingerings.

Yes! I've been working on improving my use of keys during the lockdown, so getting the Cnat back in action will be an extension of that.

One major thing I did, was to stop rolling out the C foot and bracing with my pinky when I didn't need the Eb key (which is most of the time). For the last several months I've had the C foot in normal inline orientation. I'm still not using the Eb key for venting, as the improvement in other notes is very minimal on this flute, but I might eventually learn to do that. One step at a time. With my RH pinky no longer braced against the flute but lightly resting on the Eb key or just flapping loose, I've noticed my RH 3rd finger next to it feels a little more agile. Maybe something to do with the shared tendon between the ring finger and pinky.

I've been working on the Bb key also, with G dorian tunes like Paddy Fahey's Jig (whatever number that is) where there's a mess of Bb notes in the setting. I've had to loosen my left hand hold to free up the thumb, so that's probably a good thing even for the more "normal" ITM tunes. I won't be able to play all these weird tunes in the local sessions, but that's okay. At least the lockdown has been good for something, and I have my fiddler S.O. at home who will play some of these tunes with me.


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