Bulgarian Kaval Makers

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Wiesbaden
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Tell us something.: I play whistle and flute and have tried my hand at making PVC flutes. I'd like to join the forum to get and possibly give information to other people.

Bulgarian Kaval Makers

Post by Wiesbaden »

Hello everyone,

Does anyone have any tips or info about Bulgarian kaval makers? Just googling around you can find plastic, PVC, or delrin kavals for around €50-€200. I'd love to have some context for various sources, though. For Irish flutes, you can quickly get a sense on here and on thesession of several makers who are reputable and who one can order from without worrying. Finding the same sort of info about Bulgarian kavals has eluded me so far. Probably also a language barrier.

So if anyone knows anything, please reply! Thanks!
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Geoffrey Ellis
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Re: Bulgarian Kaval Makers

Post by Geoffrey Ellis »

Since no one has jumped in on this post, I'll go ahead and make a somewhat self-serving reply. I'm in the process of developing a line of kaval that are due to be unveiled this Summer (probably within the next month or so). These are not Bulgarian kavals in the sense that they are not from Bulgaria, but they are in every important respect the exact same instrument, just my own aesthetic interpretation. They are not traditional in appearance, but they are so in terms of function. There will be multiple tunings eventually, but for now only key of D.

If you'd like to read a bit about them and see a photo, you can check out my blog on the subject: https://www.ellisflutes.com/blog/kaval-evolution

But your experience of the challenges of finding a reputable maker and/or getting recommendations is something I've heard other flute enthusiasts comment on. That's actually a part of how I ended up making them.
jimhanks
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Re: Bulgarian Kaval Makers

Post by jimhanks »

Ooh, you have my attention! Looking forward to more info. Can you talk about such things as ergonomics - like how does the kaval compare to xiao in that regard?

The fingering looks "interesting":
https://zhivkovasilev.com/news/fingerin ... o-vasilev/

Somewhat related to xiao - the bottom hand looks identical but the top hand puts the "missing" notes in different places.

Edit to add:
http://www.robertsnider.com/kavals/kavalbeginning.html
makes it sound like the bore is so narrow as to essentially lose the first octave

not sure I like that but it's interesting. Puts the main playing range in the same vein as a soprano D whistle really.
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Geoffrey Ellis
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Re: Bulgarian Kaval Makers

Post by Geoffrey Ellis »

jimhanks wrote: Fri Jun 04, 2021 10:47 am Ooh, you have my attention! Looking forward to more info. Can you talk about such things as ergonomics - like how does the kaval compare to xiao in that regard?

The fingering looks "interesting":
https://zhivkovasilev.com/news/fingerin ... o-vasilev/

Somewhat related to xiao - the bottom hand looks identical but the top hand puts the "missing" notes in different places.
From what I've seen, the kaval is played with a full piper's grip (both hands) and the holes are always inline (no offset finger holes). And as you point out the scale is fully chromatic, unlike the xiao, which is two notes shy of it.

The first octave is not really lost, it's just very challenging to play. If you watch videos of some of the kaval players from Bulgaria (and elsewhere, the kaval not being limited to Bulgaria) they can play powerfully in the first octave, which shows a high level of skill. There was a fabulous video on YouTube at one point of a well-known kaval teacher giving a half hour long intro to the kaval, including pointers on technique and some of the music theory. It was a gem of a video, but when I went back for a second look it was gone, having been switched from public to private. No idea why, but I was a bit disappointed. Anyway, the teacher was amazing, and was playing low kavals (like key of Bflat and A) in the first octave with a really robust tone. Impressive. These are among the more challenging flutes to play, much like the ney in that respect.
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Tell us something.: I am not (yet) a serious flute player, but I have two Radoslav Pakalev kavals, and I studied kaval for a time. Over the past few years, I have done a number of searches on this forum, and I have found it super informative. I am starting to think about switching from kaval to Irish flute. Somehow, that made me conclude that it's time to join the forum officially.

Re: Bulgarian Kaval Makers

Post by Medibrew »

I have a D and a C Bulgarian kaval, both made by Radoslav Paskalev from mopane. My C kaval actually does have one offset finger hole, the lowest hole. My kaval teacher at the time played mostly on a C kaval made by Aleksandr Eppler, which also had the single offset hole. I requested the offset pinky hole when I ordered my C kaval from Radoslav on my teacher's recommendation. He felt the wider spacing of the C kaval (compared to the D) made the pinky hole difficult to cover. I don't know whether the Eppler C kaval owned by my teacher just came that way or he made the same request back when he purchased his. I've never played a C kaval without the offset pinky, so I can't compare the spacing with an all-in-line model.
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paddler
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Re: Bulgarian Kaval Makers

Post by paddler »

I have a very nice kaval from Radoslav Paskalev too. Mine is made from African blackwood, but with a black delrin mouthpiece
and sockets, which are difficult to distinguish from the blackwood of the rest of the kaval. It is a traditional style, multiple
piece instrument, Radoslav does very high quality work.

Geoffrey, those kavals pictured on your blog post look lovely. When do you plan to have those for sale on your site?
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Geoffrey Ellis
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Re: Bulgarian Kaval Makers

Post by Geoffrey Ellis »

paddler wrote: Sat Nov 27, 2021 12:40 am I have a very nice kaval from Radoslav Paskalev too. Mine is made from African blackwood, but with a black delrin mouthpiece
and sockets, which are difficult to distinguish from the blackwood of the rest of the kaval. It is a traditional style, multiple
piece instrument, Radoslav does very high quality work.

Geoffrey, those kavals pictured on your blog post look lovely. When do you plan to have those for sale on your site?
Thanks! My kaval project has become a rather slow process. As I've gone along I've discovered that there are a lot of nuances to be understood (like with any flute) and a surprising amount of variation in what players want from their kaval. Sound familiar? :-) But I decided to keep the development of a kaval line on this slower timeline so that I could really iron out some of the details, and as a result I don't expect to release anything before this coming Spring at the earliest.
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