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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:59 pm 
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Conical bore wrote:
How big a part did other styles of music play, in the "revival" of this style of flute? Or was it mainly what players of Irish music were doing with it? What's the ratio of Irish players to anything else? I'd argue that the vast majority of people currently playing these flutes are using them for Irish trad, along with closely related Scottish, Shetland, etc. tunes.

Anyway, as I said in my first post in this thread, I dislike the term Irish flute but I use it in conversation with civilians (those who know nothing about ITM), because nothing else works as well to describe what kind of flute it isn't. In a circle of Irish trad players, I just call it a flute.


I agree that the music that is most often played nowadays on this instrument is probably Irish traditional/traditionally-based. However, since many other musical traditions (Scottish, Galician, Swedish etc) are embracing it too, I think “traditional flute” is probably a more appropriate term.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:45 pm 
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I've sometimes called it the "pre-modern flute," but that makes it sound a bit like I'm playing a bone flute in a cave. "Pre-modern" is not bad, although historians have varying definitions of "modern" and a conical bore flute made of delrin or carbon fiber kind of undermines the idea of "pre-modern".

The problem with "traditional" flute is the Boehm has been the norm in bands and orchestras for well over 100 years, at least in the states, and you could argue the conical bore flute is the non-traditional choice.

"the anachronistic flute"


Edit: in the states if you go to craigslist, the local website where people sell used stuff, and look for "flute" in "musical instruments" you get this: https://washingtondc.craigslist.org/search/msa?query=flute&sort=rel. It's almost 100% Boehm flutes. I don't know if it would be the same in other countries.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:59 pm 
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I've sometimes called it the "pre-modern flute," but that makes it sound a bit like I'm playing a bone flute in a cave. "Pre-modern" is not bad, although historians have varying definitions of "modern" and a conical bore flute made of delrin or carbon fiber kind of undermines the idea of "pre-modern".

The problem with "traditional" flute is the Boehm has been the norm in bands and orchestras for well over 100 years, at least in the states, and you could argue the conical bore flute is the non-traditional choice.

"the anachronistic flute"


Formally, it’s actually the “Romantic flute”, following the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical flutes [all pre-modern flutes] but people don’t seem to like that term.

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http://sites.google.com/site/ribasmusicos2/home2


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 3:36 pm 
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Javier Vila wrote:
Formally, it’s actually the “Romantic flute”, following the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical flutes [all pre-modern flutes] but people don’t seem to like that term.

That's probably because in present English vernacular, "romantic" is mainly used in reference to qualities appealing to lovers: a romantic dinner, sunset, disposition, getaway, what have you, so the term's become somewhat freighted. Even the term "Romance languages" brings canoodling to mind. Likewise, to the average ear "Romantic flute" suggests amorousness. It rather makes one want to take a shower. :wink:

Due to this commonly-held amatory connotation, "romantic" has been largely dropped as a synonym for "atmospheric", "evocative", or "charming". One time when a pub session was about to begin, among the punters taking their seats were a couple of guys: one, apparently more literate than socially adept, says to the other, "This spot looks romantic." Reaction: an uncomfortable and very loud silence. Then he realizes his gaffe and quickly backpedals with, "But maybe we should sit over there." "I think so," the other stiffly says. Nothing could have made it more clear that the two were not on a date, and one wonders how their evening went after that.

I've called it a Romantic-era flute, but that's when prefacing with, "How's your music history?"; otherwise, it doesn't mean anything like that to most people.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:51 pm 
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In the sense I’d use it Romantic means artists, writers and philosophers were put off by the emphasis on rationality in the enlightenment. “Romantic nationalism” argued that a nation was more than a contractual agreement to pursue your self interest in a lawful way. People were captive to things that were not in their self interest but mattered. So Melville and Poe are romantics because their characters are in the grip of passions nd manias that are extra-rational.

The romantic period is Beethoven—I thought the conical bore flute was earlier? Mozart, Frederick the great— big time enlightenment guys. I know it was “perfected” in the romantic era, I thought the prominence was earlier


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:02 pm 
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the conical bore flute in general dates from the early Baroque period (i.e., the 1-key Baroque flute) when it replaced the various cylindrical flutes (especially the renaissance flute) that were in use previously. but that was a very different flute to the one we play and as far as i know is considered quite unsuitable for Irish music. it didn't start evolving into what we call the simple system flute (i.e., the keyed flute) until near the end of the 18th century, and it became established towards the latter part of Beethoven's life (the beginning of the 19th century); since Beethoven also marks the transition from Classical to Romantic, i don't think it's unreasonable to call it a Romantic flute.

the only problem i see with that is that the Boehm flute was invented relatively early in the Romantic period and largely replaced the simple system flute well before it was over - so it feels like the Boehm flute is just as 'Romantic' as the simple system flute...


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:05 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
The romantic period is Beethoven

No. While Beethoven had a huge influence on it musically, he's more the guy who stretched the Classical style to breaking point, whereas some younger contemporaries (e.g. Weber 1786–1826) would definitely be considered (early) Romantic.

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I thought the conical bore flute was earlier? Mozart, Frederick the great— big time enlightenment guys. I know it was “perfected” in the romantic era, I thought the prominence was earlier

Baroque flute was conical. Embouchures and tone holes were starting to get bigger in the Classical flute, where you might also find additional keys, but you'd still typically be looking at a single-keyed model for HIP Mozart. You might start at four keys for a Romantic flute and keep adding more.

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Last edited by Peter Duggan on Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:30 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:02 pm 
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I think the baroque flute really is the basis for most of the design characteristics of our flutes. Baroque flutes
introduced the cylindrical head and conical bore that we use to keep the octaves in tune. Their bore profiles are
very similar to the ones we use, and in some cases the bores are larger. They also introduced
the idea of keys, tuning slides etc. Generally they just used one key for Eb while using forked fingering to be fully
chromatic, but the basic fingering patterns for playing in the keys of D and G are basically the same as we use now.

In many ways baroque flutes are more advanced than our modern keyless flutes, which are not fully chromatic.
It is a very small step to make a keyless flute that plays well in D and G from a baroque flute, and really there is
no technological advancement in doing so. If anything, it is a bit of a technological regression where we trade the
ability to play in many different keys and across almost three octaves, for volume and simplicity. It is much easier
to make a modern keyless flute than a baroque flute.

Some people find it reassuring to divide up the evolution of flute developments into distinct periods with names
(baroque, classical, romantic, etc) but I don't think that really helps us here.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 8:49 pm 
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I'm returning to a point I made earlier, about how the "Irish" adjective may be problematic but it helps the contemporary makers of these flutes sell their flutes and stay in business, so we can enjoy modern replicas and improved designs. A quick survey of maker web sites shows the following terms used on the home page or the adjacent "About" page. I'm sure everyone else would have a different list, these are just those I'm most familiar with. Apologies for anyone I left out, and feel free to expand the list and how these flutes are described:

Windward (my first flute) -- "Makers of fine Celtic flutes" (ugh, they're great flutes, but Celtic?)

Hammy Hamilton -- an initial mention of his "Irish flute player's handbook" and later mention of the history of English flutes being used in Irish traditional music.

Terry McGee -- "Flutes for Irish, Classical and Early Music"

Casey Burns -- "Casey Burns Flutes are professional performance instruments for Irish and other traditional music."

Patrick Olwell -- (from the about page) "our design is a conical-bore, simple system wooden flute similar to the flutes played in orchestras before the modern Boehm-style flute became the norm, and still common in Irish traditional music today."

Thomas Aebi (my current flute) -- nothing on the home page, but in the About page he says "In 1999 I moved back to Basel to open my own workshop. Since then I have been busy making wooden flutes for Irish music."

Every one of these modern flute makers is referencing the term "Irish" as a priority in their marketing. Which helps people find these makers, regardless of what music they actually play, and which helps these makers market their flutes. To the extent that we call these things "Irish flutes" in online conversation, we're helping out the flute maker community, regardless of the many imperfections in that term.

Nobody who wants to buy one of these things is going to search on the term "Romantic" or "Traditional" or even "19th Century" and get the same results they'd get with a search on "Irish flute." If they can just get past the Pakistani results...


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 8:54 pm 
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paddler wrote:
Some people find it reassuring to divide up the evolution of flute developments into distinct periods with names
(baroque, classical, romantic, etc) but I don't think that really helps us here.

I understand what you're getting at, but isn't it true that the basic Trad design - keyed or unkeyed - derives overwhelmingly from the Romantic flutes? We enshrine the flutes of that era, we are intensely interested in the old ones that are still extant, we study and even copy them, and we envy those who have them. It's the general design I went for when I had my flutes built; since my interests lay solely in Trad as we know it, I wouldn't have even considered a Baroque design. But OTOH, I think it's quite valid to call the keyless Trad flute a modern invention, so maybe we do need other terminologies.

It really depends on how broadly you want to cast your net.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:52 am 
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I don't think it is unreasonable to argue that the keyless flutes many of us play are derived from romantic
flutes, but they do embody a rather large number of changes compared to the originals, such as adjustments
for A=440 tuning, tone hole size and placement adjustments that allow whistle-style fingering that would have
originally required venting, a different bore profile (especially if you take into account the bore volume created
by keyed tone holes on the originals), many different embouchure cuts, and of course the big difference: no keys,
or often fewer than a full complement of keys, making many of our flutes not fully chromatic!

In this sense there is as much difference between many of the flutes we now label "Irish flutes" as there is between
a baroque flute and a romantic flute. At least baroque flutes and romantic flutes were both fully chromatic.
So I'm not arguing that we call what we play baroque flutes, but I do think many of our modern flutes are no closer
to romantic flutes than baroque flutes, from a design standpoint, especially those without a full complement of keys.

I guess another way of looking at it is that our modern keyless flutes strip away features that
are unnecessary, and hence are more specialized (more narrowly applicable) instruments than the originals.
If you have a modern flute that is not fully chromatic, then it seems unreasonable to name it after
fully chromatic antique flutes, and perhaps more reasonable to name it based on its intended
purpose. But I'm not going to argue for a particular narrow definition of what that intended purpose is,
because I can't come up with a term that has suitable scope.

I feel most comfortable just using the term "flute", and if pushed to narrow it down further, I might say (in jest)
something like "real flute". :devil:


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:50 am 
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Well, we all agree to call it a 'flute', so why call it anything else, because there are differences between what we have & use, therefore, use the differences to 'label' it.

Just call it a 'keyless', 'one keyed', 'four keyed', 'six keyed', 'eight keyed' flute.

Those that use the orchestral Boehm can call it a Boehm flute, (but they don't need to, because that is what Joe Public knows as a flute).

I see that none of the above makers claim it to be an 'Irish Flute', only that it is crafted with that type of music in mind.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:53 am 
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Conical bore wrote:
I'm returning to a point I made earlier, about how the "Irish" adjective may be problematic but it helps the contemporary makers of these flutes sell their flutes and stay in business, so we can enjoy modern replicas and improved designs. A quick survey of maker web sites shows the following terms used on the home page or the adjacent "About" page. I'm sure everyone else would have a different list, these are just those I'm most familiar with. Apologies for anyone I left out, and feel free to expand the list and how these flutes are described:

Windward (my first flute) -- "Makers of fine Celtic flutes" (ugh, they're great flutes, but Celtic?)

Hammy Hamilton -- an initial mention of his "Irish flute player's handbook" and later mention of the history of English flutes being used in Irish traditional music.

Terry McGee -- "Flutes for Irish, Classical and Early Music"

Casey Burns -- "Casey Burns Flutes are professional performance instruments for Irish and other traditional music."

Patrick Olwell -- (from the about page) "our design is a conical-bore, simple system wooden flute similar to the flutes played in orchestras before the modern Boehm-style flute became the norm, and still common in Irish traditional music today."

Thomas Aebi (my current flute) -- nothing on the home page, but in the About page he says "In 1999 I moved back to Basel to open my own workshop. Since then I have been busy making wooden flutes for Irish music."

Every one of these modern flute makers is referencing the term "Irish" as a priority in their marketing. Which helps people find these makers, regardless of what music they actually play, and which helps these makers market their flutes. To the extent that we call these things "Irish flutes" in online conversation, we're helping out the flute maker community, regardless of the many imperfections in that term.

Nobody who wants to buy one of these things is going to search on the term "Romantic" or "Traditional" or even "19th Century" and get the same results they'd get with a search on "Irish flute." If they can just get past the Pakistani results...


Interestingly, all of those makers avoid the term "Irish flute" and just explain that they are suited for Irish music. This website has probably the most reliable/comprehensive list of flute makers http://www.irishfluteguide.info/makers/

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Avatar picture: Ribas' improved flute by Scott. To find out more about J.M. Ribas, the Spanish flutist who replaced Charles Nicholson after his death, go to:

http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Ribas.htm

http://sites.google.com/site/ribasmusicos2/home2


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:30 am 
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Why not just refer to what it simply and self-evidently is? A wooden flute.

That neutral description simultaneously places it in the respective context of both it’s history and it’s modern folk or vernacular usage. And crucially it is a description that is creatively and culturally inclusive and enabling and does not appropriate or exclude.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:39 am 
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...but mine are all Delrin! :lol:

(No, that's not quite true, I also have an aluminium one. ;) )

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