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 Post subject: Bb flute question
PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:04 pm 
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Why do people play these? A sincere request for info, in which
I reveal my shocking ignorance. I think I understand just liking the
sound, but is there any other reason?


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 Post subject: Re: Bb flute question
PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:38 pm 
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I don't have a Bb flute yet but it's on my "one of these days when I can afford one" list. So take this with a grain of salt as a non-player of the instrument. I think there may be two main reasons for playing one:

If you're recording an album, or performing on stage, it's a nice break from the pitch range and timbre of a D flute There are two tunes on Sylvain Barou's latest "Last Days Off Fall" album where he uses a Bb flute this way, and it's a nice pitch/timbre shift from the rest of the album. I've heard Kevin Crawford do this also.

There are some tunes that make extensive use of the fiddle's G string. A Bb flute may let you play the tune without transposing to a different key. I don't mind transposing sometimes, but my S.O. is a fiddler, and there are some tunes I'd like to play along with her, where those low notes are important and can't just be "folded" up an octave. I'm not 100% sure how those tunes would fit on a Bb flute without trying it, but I know they're never going to fit on my D flute!


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 Post subject: Re: Bb flute question
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 2:26 am 
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Some people just love the low tones. :)

My harmonicas are down the lower end, tenor/low C (starts on C3) & orchestra tuned (starts on G3).
(Whereas, your low D is a D4.) :D

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 Post subject: Re: Bb flute question
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:59 am 
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My reasons for liking the Bb flute. Nice mellow sound, not as loud as the D flute. My wife can stay in the same room as me when I play the Bb, when I play the D flute she finds it too loud. Reels played slowly with a bodhran sound (to my ear) amazing. And last (BUT NOT LEAST), as we all know the male psyche is quite sensitive to size, and a Bb flute is HUGE....


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 Post subject: Re: Bb flute question
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:06 am 
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Nicolas86 wrote:
And last (BUT NOT LEAST), as we all know the male psyche is quite sensitive to size, and a Bb flute is HUGE....


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXhN9ezg0i0


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 Post subject: Re: Bb flute question
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:05 am 
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A politcal ad about *drilling* in Lake Michigan aired before the intended video... it was still appropriate :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Bb flute question
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:38 am 
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The flutes used in traditional music today are available as piccolo fifes flutes (D) and the low Bb (bass) you mention

Families of flutes have existed for a long time, where these exist there is an element of ensemble playing inferred. (Renaissance, Baroque, Marching Band and Classical are examples)

Renaissance flutes - Quote from Rick Wilson's site; Three sizes of instruments (that we can call descant, tenor, and bass flutes) are described in several 16th century treatises, though only the two lower sizes are mentioned by Philibert Jambe de Fer (1556). These differed in pitch by a fifth. The lowest notes of the descant, tenor, and bass are, respectively, A', D', and (low) G.
(Recorders are available with descant, treble, alto, tenor, bass as a set)

This is similar to the set of '(military) band flutes' that marching bands use - Eb piccolo, Bb fife, F flute, Eb flute and low Bb flutes

This is similar to the sets flutes that are available as modern Boehm flutes today; Piccolo, Flute (C), Bass Bb and other low flutes as in
https://youtu.be/kMbNn3t0FgU

19c flute; Conical Bore mentions that the low Bb might be of use with tunes that occupy the lower register of the fiddle or D flute; It's really more down to what key is being played. The Bb flute doesn't usually work well with a D flute as their inherent common keys don't fit well together. This would work better if a low Bb flute is combined with an Eb flute or an F flute (and Bb fife and Eb piccolo) as their respective 'home keys' work better together.

In essence a flute's pitch/key is determined by its length; theoretically a flute can be made to any length, just choose a length that you like the sound of.

In addition to what has already been mentioned by others regarding low Bb flutes, song accompaniment is another reason why flute players might have a low Bb in their armoury.

(Ormiston) Bb Flute - ABW eight key - example
https://soundcloud.com/holmesflute/scot ... itar-reels

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Last edited by Holmes on Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:28 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bb flute question
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:45 am 
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Holmes wrote:
19c flute; Conical Bore mentions that the low Bb might be of use with tunes that occupy the lower register of the fiddle or D flute. It's really more down to what key that is being played. The Bb flute doesn't usually work well with a D flute as their inherent common keys don't fit well together. This would work better if a low Bb flute is combined with an Eb flute or an F flute (and Bb fife and Eb piccolo) as their respective 'home keys' work better together.


Thanks, I was wondering how that would work, and hadn't yet mapped out in my head how the Bb home or "native" keys would work in common session tune keys.


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