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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:54 pm 
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Are there flutists here who play a keyless and also early single key flutes?

What are your observations about this combination? How do you tend to vary when and where you play these different flutes? How easy do you find it to adapt to the alternative fingerings of the single key flute?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 8:37 pm 
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If by 'early single key flute' you mean the baroque flute and by keyless flute you mean the modern keyless flute made for playing Irish trad music, then I play both. The instruments are very dissimilar and many of the cross-fingerings (forked fingerings) of the former work very poorly on the latter, particularly in the first octave. I don't think a baroque flute is a satisfactory instrument for playing Irish music for a number of reasons: the tonal quality is not right, the volume is very little, and most importantly playing the baroque flute requires constant gymnastics with the lips and even turning the flute in and out, and there isn't time to do that while playing reels and fast-pased jigs. F# is very flat on a baroque flute with the standard fingering, and the alternative fingering (in the first octave) is too sharp. I suppose one could play baroque music in the keys of D major and G major on a keyless flute, but the sound wouldn't be right. One could not play in keys which required F natural. If you wish to play both types of music, it will be necessary to acquire both types of flute. On the positive side, the instruments are so different that one doesn't experience confusion while playing them. The mouth holes are quite different (the baroque flute has a small, circular mouth hole and the keyless flute has a larger, oval mouth hole, but once one is comfortable with both types, then it is possible to switch between them without a great deal of difficulty, certainly no more, and probably less, than the difficulty of switching between the mouth hole of the silver flute (more often rectangular than oval) and that of the baroque flute.

Still unanswered is your third question ('How easy do you find it to adapt to the alternative fingerings of the single key flute?'). This suggests you are already play the keyless flute and are interested in playing the baroque flute. I went the other way and so can't answered your question in terms of my own experience, but I can say that it will not be so much a matter of adapting to the alternative fingerings of the one-keyed flute as learning a new system of fingering. But if you are interested in baroque music, then it will be worth the effort. It is possible to play a chromatic scale from the bottom D up to the third octave A and although the most common keys are D, G, C and F (and their relative minors), there is music written for 3 or 4 sharps and and 3 or 4 flats. One of J S Bach's flute sonatas is in E major.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 1:18 pm 
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Thanks for your reply. I play both types of flute (for traditional music not necessarily 'Irish' but I'm not looking to go down that rabbit hole).

My early flute is English, London made c.1820's so, although it is boxwood and has a single key, I don't really think it can be called a baroque flute. My understanding is that baroque flutes are their 18th century cousins.

My motivation in posting this question is to hear other players different experiences of playing both types. My route was the opposite to yours; keyless first and then adding the earlier single-key. Getting used to the embouchure wasn't an issue. Volume is ok on my boxwood flute too. I don't know if this is due to it being marked as a Nicholson 'Improved'? The embouchure opening and certain tone holes are larger than some other similar period flutes The different fingerings are taking time to learn and adapt to. Not easy, but I like the voice difference the two flutes open up.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 5:31 pm 
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If I may widen the discussion a bit, how do six key Irish flutes do with
baroque music? I'd like to think they would do well.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2019 8:57 pm 
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Here is my experience with an 1820s English flute. The flute is 10-keys (down to B) made by Monzani and is a beautiful piece of work. The parts relevant to your questions is that the embouchure opening is very small and the tone holes are all small and evenly spaced. The keys of course remove the need for cross fingerings. Playing this flute with no keys would be difficult to do.

The tuning problems correspond to the other flutes of the period, flat foot and wonky F# and left hand notes.

This flute will never be loud and is suited for small groups or solo playing. It demands focus for the wind jet from the lips, and can be played with very nice tone and in tune when that is working. This flute needs far less of the lip and chin gymnastics described earlier about playing traverso. I think there are some boxwood Monzani flutes out there :)
L


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2019 2:51 pm 
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In reply to mendipman: you're probably right that your 1820-vintage one-keyed flute is not the same as a baroque flute. You can check this out by looking for a fingering chart for the baroque flute and trying the fingerings. A very simple test is if you can play f-natural in tune with the cross-fingering (123 4-6) without turning the flute in or by just turning it in a little bit (i.e. using your lips alone to bring it into tune). This is impossible with most later flutes, at least it is for me.

In reply to Jim Stone, I have tried to play baroque music on a 6-keyed flute (a small-holed mid-19th century one by Wm. Hall & Son) in private playing, and it is satisfactory although this flute is in tune at A440 rather than A415. It doesn't feel quite right to do this, but it certainly works and I think the sound is much nicer than that of a silver flute.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 7:11 am 
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Baroque music makes excellent material for a six-key flute. For example, the 12 fantasias for solo flute by Telemann range through as many key signatures and have a great many modulations within them. The proper instrument is a one-key baroque flute, but they are a heck of a lot easier to play on a keyed simple system flute, and while one might never seek to perform them to an audience on such an instrument (I certainly wouldn't!) I believe they sound much better than on a Boehm. The fantasias are also fantastically absorbing and often highly quirky but fairly straightforward to read in terms of rhythm.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 9:52 am 
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mendipman wrote:
Are there flutists here who play a keyless and also early single key flutes?

What are your observations about this combination? How do you tend to vary when and where you play these different flutes? How easy do you find it to adapt to the alternative fingerings of the single key flute?


I play different kinds of music on different kinds of flutes. On the traverso I play odd-key Carolan tunes as well as baroque music. On the keyless I play ITM, although not much any more since I got a six-key. On the six-key for some reason I play mostly Playford tunes, along with some classical and romantic music. I've been attacking a very chromatic Faure piece recently, so have been on the six-key exclusively for some time.

I tend to play one flute for a month or so at a time. I do occasionally play both. One thing that I've found is if I play both in a day, the traverso has to be first. If you promptly switch from the fat sound of a 19th-century-style flute to the little sound of a baroque-rococo flute, you'll always be disappointed, whereas the converse is not the case.

I'm having a lot more difficulty adjusting to the keyed flute than I ever had on the one-key. Which is odd since I played clarinet growing up and never played the recorder.

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