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New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute
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Author:  michaelpthompson [ Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:01 pm ]
Post subject:  New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

OK, is there such a thing as FAS (Flute Aquisition Syndrome)? I've seen such a syndrome mentioned in regard to other instruments, and I think I may have contracted it.

Seriously, I've become quite entranced with Anasazi/Basketmaker flutes. You may have seen my glowing message about my new Geoffrey Ellis flute. I've fallen in love with this beautiful instrument.
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I said at that time that this was the most difficult musical instrument I've ever tried to play. I must confess now that this is no longer true. The Butch Hall Rainmaker is even more challenging.
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There are several differences between these two, but the main one is the mouthpiece, if you can call it that. Both are rim-blown flutes, modeled after instruments found in a cave in Northeastern Arizona in 1931, and dated to around 620 AD. The Rainmaker is touted as an exact replica, whereas Ellis has added some modern modifications. Laura Hall wrote me that "It was our pleasure to create this replica flute. It is so fun to hear the EXACT sounds/notes you would have heard from them 1200-1300 years ago!" So their intention was to exactly duplicate the original design.
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As I said, the main difference is in the mouthpiece, or splitting edge. The original flutes from the cave had a rim all the way around.
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I haven't seen a good image of the end, but you can mostly make out what I mean here and see the similarities.
The Geoffrey Ellis model basically makes the instrument easier to play, using elements from the Shakuhachi and Quena style flutes.
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The main differences are that the rim is tilted down a bit toward the player to facilitate a better angle against the chin, and there's a sharpened notch on the other side which makes it easier to get a good tone.

Geoffrey Ellis also puts a thumb hole on his recent offerings, which apparently gives the player more power in the upper register. That's the supposition by Chris in another thread at least. Hopefully Geoffrey will chime in at some point and give us more insight.

All in all, I am extremely chuffed at my recent acquisitions and look forward to becoming more familiar with these amazing instruments. BTW, if you want one from Butch Hall, you'd better act fast. Laura told me they only have a few left and no plans to make another batch. Check it out today.

Author:  Andro [ Tue Jan 15, 2019 5:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

Hi Michael,

Beautiful!

Due to my enquiries about details of the rims of the Anasazi flutes on the Facebook group Transverse and Rim Blown Flute Making, various people have very kindly offered their knowledge and information, and one kind gent. has posted a close up photo of the end of two. Take a look. Perhaps join the group! I must confess I generally loathe Facebook, but recently there are a lot of technical instrument groups with so many generous people and experts participating.

Author:  Hi4head [ Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

Welcome to the rabbit hole.

I had one of Butch’s Rainmakers several years ago when I first started playing rimblowns. At the time, the finger stretch was more than I could comfortably handle. When playing straight (as you would with Geoffrey’s) I could get clean tone, but it it was very quiet. However, it played multiple octaves easily. I’ve seen others have similar experiences.

I think that it really is designed to be played obliquely. http://www.marlonmagdalena.com/my-flutes.php
Marlon has a couple of videos on his website showing this style of play.

I play around with the oblique style once in a while on a couple of flutes that I’ve made that incorporate a notch on the top and a bevel on the side of the rim. For me, the biggest challenge is to play the first octave. I find that I need to “blow” very, very softly.

Let’s see you make some rain!

Chris

Author:  fatmac [ Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

OK, you got my attention, I just went & grabbed up a short plastic pipe & had a blow.

Straight on is like a normal flute embouchure, whilst side on is more like a human whistling, more relaxed embouchure - but both ways kind of worked, & I managed a low note & an octave(?) jump.

I'm going to go find myself a file & try making a notch now..... :D

Author:  fatmac [ Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

Just filed the edge thinner, into a knife edge, makes it play easier. :)

Where would I need to put the holes, that's the next step, (is there an easy formula, I wonder), perhaps I could try measuring the hole spacings on some of my flutes/whistles, & come up with something.

Author:  michaelpthompson [ Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

Andro wrote:
Due to my enquiries about details of the rims of the Anasazi flutes on the Facebook group Transverse and Rim Blown Flute Making, various people have very kindly offered their knowledge and information, and one kind gent. has posted a close up photo of the end of two. Take a look. Perhaps join the group! I must confess I generally loathe Facebook, but recently there are a lot of technical instrument groups with so many generous people and experts participating.


Thanks Andro, I'll check it out.

Author:  michaelpthompson [ Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

Hi4head wrote:
I had one of Butch’s Rainmakers several years ago when I first started playing rimblowns. At the time, the finger stretch was more than I could comfortably handle.

I've had difficulty with that as well. I found it strange; perhaps those ancient people had bigger hands than we do? Not sure why this is true, but my experience is the same as yours. A couple of people made the very helpful suggestion that I start by concentrating on the left hand (top 3 holes) and work mostly on embouchure before continuing. That has helped, and I'm making progress. I can now often get the fourth and fifth holes to work as well, using what Erik the Flutemaker calls the peace sign (index and middle fingers together) to cover both at the same time. Just covering the fourth hole with index finger produces a strange note. Perhaps this will help you as well. As with most things, it gets better with practice.
Quote:
When playing straight (as you would with Geoffrey’s) I could get clean tone, but it it was very quiet. However, it played multiple octaves easily. I’ve seen others have similar experiences.

I have the same experience, I can play much better straight than obliquely. However, I wonder if that's because I have practiced straight more with my Geoffrey Ellis flute. Only experience will tell.

Quote:
I think that it really is designed to be played obliquely. http://www.marlonmagdalena.com/my-flutes.php Marlon has a couple of videos on his website showing this style of play.

Thanks, I will definitely check that out.
Quote:
I play around with the oblique style once in a while on a couple of flutes that I’ve made that incorporate a notch on the top and a bevel on the side of the rim. For me, the biggest challenge is to play the first octave. I find that I need to “blow” very, very softly.

I'll have to try oblique on the notched one and see what happens. I do find breath control to be very important, and I've also discovered the need to change the angle of the flute just a tad as I go up or down the scale.
Quote:
Let’s see you make some rain!

Sounds like a plan. I'm working on it.

Author:  michaelpthompson [ Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

fatmac wrote:
Just filed the edge thinner, into a knife edge, makes it play easier. :)

Where would I need to put the holes, that's the next step, (is there an easy formula, I wonder), perhaps I could try measuring the hole spacings on some of my flutes/whistles, & come up with something.


I've researched the question of hole spacing quite a bit, with only moderate success. There's a lot of information out there, but most of it is for transverse flutes, or traditional Native American flutes with the bird and nest (block and channel).

I think Butch just used the actual measurements from the flutes found in the cave. See http://www.flutopedia.com/brokenflutecave.htm. Scroll down, there's a table with all the measurements.
I made one that way out of PVC, but hadn't played before, so I'm not entirely sure what notes it was making. Had to cut an inch and a half off the specified length to get it close to a key. I gave it to my dad for Christmas. Will try again soon.

Author:  fatmac [ Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

Thanks for the link, will see what I can do. :thumbsup:

Author:  AuLoS303 [ Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

I have IAS. Instrument Acquisition Syndrome...

Author:  michaelpthompson [ Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

AuLoS303 wrote:
I have IAS. Instrument Acquisition Syndrome...


I know what you mean. I also own plenty of mandolins, drums and percussion instruments, a couple of guitars, some tin whistles, and who knows what else.

Author:  AuLoS303 [ Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

michaelpthompson wrote:
AuLoS303 wrote:
I have IAS. Instrument Acquisition Syndrome...


I know what you mean. I also own plenty of mandolins, drums and percussion instruments, a couple of guitars, some tin whistles, and who knows what else.

I know want a Native American Flute!

Author:  michaelpthompson [ Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

Scott August has an excellent video on how to buy an Anasazi flute. Many of the principles should apply to a standard NAF as well.

Author:  AuLoS303 [ Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

michaelpthompson wrote:
Scott August has an excellent video on how to buy an Anasazi flute. Many of the principles should apply to a standard NAF as well.

How do you even play those? Regular flute embouchure is tricky enough...

Author:  michaelpthompson [ Sun Apr 07, 2019 5:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Butch Hall Rainmaker Flute

AuLoS303 wrote:
How do you even play those? Regular flute embouchure is tricky enough...

It sure ain't easy. I'm still getting the hang of it. If you want to learn, the best bet is a skype lesson from Scott August.

There's also lots of helpful material on YouTube,but Scott's personal lesson helped me a lot.

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