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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2020 5:08 pm 
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This (https://youtu.be/Bjw21oedXi0) is a light-hearted venture into the perpetual vexed discussion about the influence of materials on flute tone qualities. It doesn't pretend to be "scientific", just a comparative demonstration for folk to make their own observations. I deliberately restricted the demonstration of each head to a 2 octave C major scale in roughly the same pattern on each head.

Apart from materials and wall thicknesses, the significant differences would be varying embouchure chimney volumes, undercuts and sharpness or otherwise of hole rims and also my own less than wonderfully consistent embouchure. Although everything was done in a short, single sitting, I won't necessarily have "dialed in" perfectly on each head after a change, nor (rather obviously in some cases) maintained embouchure consistency throughout the demo of a given head.

When introducing the heads (first part of video) I forgot to mention that the modern Buffet Crampon Cooper cut head is silver-plated nickel-silver, and erroneously said it was comparatively long and would sound low - it's actually short and I set it at the same length as all the others, within a millimetre or so, so it won't be significantly different in pitch for that reason.

Another possibly significant matter/variable I didn't think about until after making the video is that the Ebonite heads are all unlined (save for their tuning slides) but the two wooden heads are both fully lined with silver (no unlined wooden ones available to throw into the mix).

It is quite interesting to hop too and fro between the different heads as they play back.

The flute used is a standard Rudall Carte closed G#, plain platter keyed Böhm system flute in Ebonite (hard rubber) with full thickness body walls and a solid silver mechanism. It is #2013, originally made in 1890 by Barker (RC workman) at high pitch, but rebodied to A440 by Rudall Carte in the 1920s or 1930s.

The heads are all by Rudall Carte except the Buffet Crampon one.
In order of presentation, they are:
1. Cocuswood, silver lined, full thickness walls, elliptical embouchure hole
2. Ebonite, unlined, full thickness walls, elliptical embouchure hole
3. Ebonite, unlined, full thickness walls, rounded rectangle embouchure hole
4. Ebonite, unlined, thinned walls with applied Ebonite lip-platform, elliptical embouchure hole (#2013's own original head)
5. Cocuswood, silver lined, thinned, integral lip platform, elliptical embouchure hole
6. Silver, barrel lip support, silver lined elliptical embouchure hole
7. Nickel-silver (silver-plated), lip-plate on riser, Cooper rounded hexagon embouchure cut

I have not measured any of the embouchure holes as I lack appropriate tooling to measure wall depth or undercuts etc.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2020 7:17 pm 
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Hi Jem

I liked headjoints 1 and 2 best, the others sounded a bit thinner in tone.

David

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2020 2:42 am 
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jemtheflute wrote:
Apart from materials and wall thicknesses, the significant differences would be varying embouchure chimney volumes, undercuts and sharpness or otherwise of hole rims

Surely there's too much different here to make this any more than a comparison of different head joints on the same flute where material could be the least significant factor? But of course you knew that, hence the 'light-hearted'!

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2020 4:35 am 
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BigDavy wrote:
Hi Jem

I liked headjoints 1 and 2 best, the others sounded a bit thinner in tone.

David


That might just be my embouchure going off!

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2020 4:37 am 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
jemtheflute wrote:
Apart from materials and wall thicknesses, the significant differences would be varying embouchure chimney volumes, undercuts and sharpness or otherwise of hole rims

Surely there's too much different here to make this any more than a comparison of different head joints on the same flute where material could be the least significant factor? But of course you knew that, hence the 'light-hearted'!


Yes, Peter. Exactly. If I didn't make those points, there'd be plenty of folk who would simply ascribe any differences they hear to the materials. :waah:

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2020 7:14 pm 
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Hi Jem--I'm almost embarrassed to write this, but I thought the two cocus-wood head joints had the fullest and warmest sounds and I preferred them. For the little it is worth, I own a cocus-wood flute and am not particularly fond of it as compared to the blackwood flutes I own. The sound is a little fuzzy. Chet


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2021 3:46 am 
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Good work, Jem.

What interests me is that none of these heads really jumps out and yells "look at me, look at me". Which, given the massive variety they represent, is pretty fascinating. Let's look at that range. We have:

- bores of silver, nickel-silver, ebonite and cocuswood
- some bores of uniform material, some a combination
- exteriors of silver, nickel-silver, ebonite and cocuswood
- embouchure chimneys of silver, nickel-silver, ebonite and cocuswood
- possibly some different stopper faces? (cork, metals? ebonite? other?)
- mostly elliptical holes but one rounded rectangle
- some full diameter concentric inner and outers, some thinned, some raised (and therefore deepened) embouchure chimneys
- some with lip plates, some without
- probably some at least minor differences in bore taper
- most by one maker, but one not
- mostly 19th century, but one from a later century. A century!

But you wouldn't be inclined to pick one and throw the rest in the bin, would you.

Which is of course also our lived experience. We have modern Irish flute makers all round the world, each following their notion of what works best. And, while we might all have a favourite modern maker, that is not a unified experience. If any one of we makers gained a massive and undeniable advantage over all the others, the rest of us would starve. But we haven't. Indeed, we've all sold flutes to customers that have previously bought flutes from other makers but have not yet found the one that really works for them.

And I'm sure the same applies in the modern metal flute making environment. We are in a field where there is no clear right way to do things. Player's mouths differ. Fortunately, so do maker's mouths! And we are not limited to one maker!

So again, good work Jem, thanks.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2021 8:01 am 
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Just a couple of further points of information responding to Terry's thoughts:
The thinned cocuswood head was made in 1929. The other RC heads are all C19th or at least pre WW1.
The thinned RC heads probably actually have shallower embouchure chimneys than the plain, full thickness heads because the lip-platforms are dished. One would need to measure with appropriate tooling for fair comparison on that point.
All the Rudall Carte heads may be the same brand, but were made by individual craftsmen and the embouchure cuts are noticeably (to the naked eye) variable in dimensions within the house style.
The only nickel-silver involved is silver-plated inside and out.

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