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Just received my lovely Geoffrey Ellis flute!
http://forums.chiffandfipple.com/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=107901
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Author:  michaelpthompson [ Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Just received my lovely Geoffrey Ellis flute!

I am so stoked right now. Not only did the helpful Jason and his co-moderators manage to straighten out my subscription so I can actually access the forum, at just about the same time, the postal carrier rang my doorbell and left a wonderful triangular package on my doorstep.

To my amazement and delight (not surprise of course, since I had actually ordered it), the package contained a gorgeous basketmaker (Anasazi style) flute made of curly Douglas Fir. I had seen Geoffrey's flutes online and listened to them being played, but to hold one in my hands was a very special experience.

Image
This is not a picture of my actual flute, but a similar one in the key of B-flat. Mine is in A.

I've played flute and whistle for years, but never seriously. Recently, I took it in mind to get into Anasazi culture (yes, I know the term is controversial, but I have my reasons for using it, which can be discussed in another thread if you want.) I must admit, this is the hardest musical instrument I've ever tried to play. Other than maybe shakuhachi, from which I never did get a note. I'm quite proud of myself that I can actually get some notes out of this, though much practice will be required before they are clear and strong. And so far, I cannot get the lowest note on the lower octave to sound at all, while in the middle octave, it warbles a lot, and I have trouble settling on how hard to blow. I can get some notes in the upper octave. Is this intended to play three whole octaves or just the middle one and part of the upper and lower? Any information helpful and appreciated.

I do want to thank Geoffrey for making such a beautiful instrument. I felt all tingly when I was able to play three or four notes in a row. I'm looking forward to a very enjoyable relationship with this instrument. And with all of you on the Forum.

Cheers,

Michael

Author:  Hi4head [ Fri Jan 04, 2019 4:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Just received my lovely Geoffrey Ellis flute!

Congrats on your new flute. Your rimblown can be one of the most enjoyable and frustrating of instruments. I’m assuming that you have one of the new designs with the thumb hole. If so, first make certain that you have it fully covered.

Next you may want to take some Skype lessons with Scott August (cedarmesadotcom I think). I took a series of 4 lessons with him last year. I thought that I was a pretty decent player before; he took it up significantly.

I’d suggest starting by leaving the bottom three holes open and focusing on getting a clean tone. Play around with trying to adjust your volume by adjustments to your embouchure and breath pressure. Then drop the next two fingers and do the same thing. Finally, drop the last to get to the root. The main thing with playing the lower notes is to breath into the flute very gently, still with a focused embouchure.

Also, I’m thinking that this thread would be more appropriate in the World Flute section (but I’m a newbie here so am not quite certain.)

I’ve been playing the various Ancestral Puebloan flutes for a few years and am glad to provide some input.

And Geoffrey makes very nice flutes!

Chris

Author:  michaelpthompson [ Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Just received my lovely Geoffrey Ellis flute!

Thanks Chris, that's pretty much my intended plan of action. I am getting better tone on the top few holes, and I can often add the next two down, but the bottom one is still problematic.

Yes, it does have a thumb hole. That surprised me a bit, but I'm working with it. I've played recorder and clarinet before, so I know the concept at least.

Looking forward to an exciting adventure!

Author:  michaelpthompson [ Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Just received my lovely Geoffrey Ellis flute!

OK, so I've been practicing on my Geoffrey Ellis flute for a week now, and I have a couple of questions.

First, I am getting better at producing a consistent sound, including even the bottom hole most of the time. But I feel like I have to adjust the angle of the flute just a hair as I go up and down. Is this true and/or common? Or perhaps it's just an artifact of my inexperienced consistency.

Second, as I go up the scale, I do tend to follow the advice of Erik the Flutemaker and keep my "peace sign" (right index an middle fingers) together, going from Image straight to Image without going to Image in between. It seems to sound better somehow. Image doesn't seem to flow with the other notes as well. Any comments?

When I get to the top, I find it also sounds better to my ear if I keep the top hole covered and open the thumb hole instead. They're nearly the same not, but not quite. Is this the purpose of the thumb hole, and/or am I once again mistaken in my impression?

I know you people just love to give advice, so carry on!

:party:

Author:  Geoffrey Ellis [ Mon Jan 21, 2019 6:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Just received my lovely Geoffrey Ellis flute!

The top notes on your flute are a half step apart, and they are discreet (separate notes). You can bend them enough to make them sound almost like the same note, but they are not.

You have this note: X X O O O O O

or this note: O X O O O O O

Obviously the first character is the thumb hole and the next six holes the finger holes.

Like most flutes, each individual hole will probably sound it's best with a slightly different embouchure, but you shouldn't have to do much to get each one to sound well. When Scott plays, he really locks in his embouchure and does not engage in much bending (i.e. position change) to sound the individual notes. I do the same when I voice and tune the flutes. I dial it in to where I get the strongest, reediest tone (a good middle position that gives me latitude to flat or sharp the note by changing the position of my embouchure relative to the blowing edge) and I stay there and play from there (and make any tuning adjustments from there) until the notes are in pitch. At this point I'd likely chock up any inconsistencies you are experiencing to a developing embouchure. As you gain strength and control you will find your tone becoming more consistent from note to note.

Author:  michaelpthompson [ Mon Jan 21, 2019 8:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Just received my lovely Geoffrey Ellis flute!

Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
At this point I'd likely chock up any inconsistencies you are experiencing to a developing embouchure. As you gain strength and control you will find your tone becoming more consistent from note to note.


Makes sense to me, and I suspected as much. Thanks!

BTW, your addition of the Shakuhachi style notch makes your flute supremely easier to play than the original, for which I am very grateful. And FYI for anyone else considering buying one of your instruments. I highly recommend it.

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