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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:21 am 
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Some good advice given there. As said it takes time, especially if you're playing, practising, alone at home. It can be useful, if daunting, to record yourself playing a tune at home. Tune your G or A to a tuner, record a tune you feel confident with, then listen to yourself. You'll hear if something sounds off, if you're playing sharp in the 2nd octave, or if your bottom D is flat.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:41 am 
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Play slowly. That's mostly it. Listen to the tune in your head as you play it slowly, and "hear" the next note in your head before you play it ... then play it and noodle it a bit until it sounds right. I know that's annoying as a response, but that's basically the cure -- play and practice SLOWLY and "visualize" the note before your make it. I think that when that's done with sound, it's called "audiating." Imagine you're listening to a singer. Usually when they're off, it hits your ear like a hammer.

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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:09 pm 
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Best to play with patience. An electric tuner can give you too much information if you take it note by note. The drone idea is great. And if you can play with good recordings and slow them down without distortion you can hear if you go off. Some people don't ever get it, but it looks like you are working on it. There was a whistle player at a session with a Sindt, a great whistle. He played out of tune for years. At one point I someone asked him if he might pull it out a little. He was unaware that he could. HaHa. I've played with others who are hypersensitive to tuning. A particular fiddle player would always tell me I was sharp when we were playing alone, though when playing with a world class accordion player with the same settings on my flute and fine tuning my playing as I went along, I was always fine. I asked him about this once. 'Oh X," glancing down at is professional instrument with fixed tuning he replied with a smile, "X always thinks I'm too sharp too."

When I play with new people they always want me to tune to their A, which is sort of useless. I dutifully look like I am adjusting the flute and sound their A, but usually put it right back to where it likes to play in tune and has for 30 years, then focus on the micro moves that get me to match with them. These are tiny facial changes that change the notes minutely. Lifting my eyebrows, flaring my nostrils, pulling in my chin, rolling the flute in and out. They are so second nature now I am not aware when I am doing them. If I am tuning a flute at home I sound an A, G, D and B to a tuner and sort of average out the instrument setting, the rest is up to my playing.

My apple music recently sent me to a recording by Liam Kelly solo flute. The two tracks I listened to were clear and solid with a good tempo to savor the notes. Finding recording such as this or slowing others can be useful.

But when you are listening to recordings they are sometimes darn fast, and other times being played on an Eb flute. You are not losing your mind if you run across a tune you love, but can't quite zero in on. When we had the physical CDs and LPs we could check the liner notes to see if the flute key was mentioned.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 7:06 pm 
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I've recently read a PhD thesis about the development of a computer-programme used for designing boehm flutes. They made extended tests with different flautists, of course and they found that the deviations on the same instrument between different players were huge.
https://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datas ... ?view=true
So long story short, I think one should not be too finicky about tuning. I test the instruments I built for myself so far (whistles and keyless flutes) against different tuners and then play a few tunes with my wife, who plays accordion. If it sounds fine then, I think I've done a good enough job. Nobody will notice if some notes are a few cents sharp or flat.
Another fun story from back when I still played guitar in different bands. My dad (in whose bluesband I played) said, "yeah, we used to tune to one instrument and everybody was off. Now that we all tune to our own tuners, it sounds better".


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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:47 am 
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Any recommendations on where to get the 5th drone recording to play against?

Maybe there are apps for a phone?

Ideally it would need to play as a loop.

I suppose I could record the drown on my fiddle, guess I could then loop it in audacity or something.

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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:57 am 
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gorjuswrex wrote:
Any recommendations on where to get the 5th drone recording to play against?

Take a look at Michael Eskin's "Just Drones" app (at least for iPhones/iPods). I believe it allows both the first and fifth of several keys. That plays as long as your phone has a charge.

Best wishes.

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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:22 am 
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busterbill wrote:
When I play with new people they always want me to tune to their A, which is sort of useless. I dutifully look like I am adjusting the flute and sound their A, but usually put it right back to where it likes to play in tune
Agree, and with what followed, although sometimes if it is very hot or cold I may adjust.

I was 'caught out' once though. At a mixed-instrument workshop with a very experienced leader. The strings tuned to the a nominated free reed instrument, a boehm flute player had a guitar in hand so it was just me. "What notes good for that flute? G I think" "Yes please I say, and play a note in tune", "Fine, but how about the second octave as well?" I do that too - but this time I am concious that I am lipping the note up - so I adjust the slide.

Half way through the first tune I can tell that the flute has warmed up and I push the slide back to the usual place.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:42 am 
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Years back a close musical friend referred to some albums made by a great modern Irish Trad flutester. My friend had taken some university music course in classical music , don't know the level or details.

The earliest album from the great player was recorded on an antique flute. My friend said that the recording was not properly in tune, but his later recordings were as they were on a very good modern makers flute (simple system wooden / 'trad Irish' if you like ). He told me that if I listen carefully I would hear the difference. I did and I think I could. Not sure but feel that if I was to listen to that player on the antique and the modern I would just about be able to tell. I can't recall if it was much of a problem for my friend listening to the album with the antique flute, I seem to recall it was at least a slight problem to him. Sadly he is no longer with us.

I've played a lot of antiques and less modern flutes. My limited experience is for both types some adjust is needed, sin sceal eile. My friend would be referring to the antique being not fully in tune with itself, some notes flat or sharp, (as we well know) not the general pitch of the recording.

We adjust those notes when they are sustained, but probably not so much when they are short in faster tunes.

Question .Part of my rambling here is to ask a question to classically trained or others who might be ultra pitch sensitive. Would they find such recordings a problem? Would you even detect it unless you were listening closely? I am only asking about fast notes in dance tunes. For classical players what level would be expected. Maybe 1/20th of a semitone detection (5 cents). I don't know and have not checked myself. Here I am taking of sustained note detection. I would expect the same people would be less accurate for short notes in a tune?

Years ago (too !) a simple system flute dealer said to that some players prefered the flutes that were not fully in tune with themselves. Still not sure what this meant but have some idea, ideas. For example some pipes play C# a good bit flat. On a flute I would probably not vent the c# with the key in this case (I mean on sustained notes within a dance 'fast' tune) as it is easy to hear the difference between the flatish and normal c sharp. Some fiddle styles play some notes slightly off 'correct' pitch. Is that maybe why the dealer said they prefer the flutes not fully in tune within their scale? On faster tunes it is difficult for the flute to adjust fast notes and sounds better with the quirks?

I think on this board I saw a post from a classical player saying that when he first heard the Chieftains he felt they were out of tune? really? Later he wished he could play like them.

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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:12 am 
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Quote:
Years ago (too !) a simple system flute dealer said to that some players prefered the flutes that were not fully in tune with themselves. Still not sure what this meant but have some idea, ideas. For example some pipes play C# a good bit flat. On a flute I would probably not vent the c# with the key in this case (I mean on sustained notes within a dance 'fast' tune) as it is easy to hear the difference between the flatish and normal c sharp. Some fiddle styles play some notes slightly off 'correct' pitch. Is that maybe why the dealer said they prefer the flutes not fully in tune within their scale? On faster tunes it is difficult for the flute to adjust fast notes and sounds better with the quirks?


I think to answer any of your questions, first step would be to determine what you consider 'in tune'. Equal temperament? a meantone temperament, just intonation or any other of the many possible tunings?

Particular notes on the pipes are out of tune. You hear that one often. But if they are tuned at perfect intervals with the drones, are they out of tune or is your bog standard ET in the wrong? Determine that first. And remember: the matter of temperament is an important one in Irish music. And tuning is, to a degree, situational.

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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:59 pm 
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One question about the pipes. I know that on drone flutes (as played in many traditional European styles) sometimes the drone is slightly out of tune on purpose to get a slight "beat" (in German it's called a "Schwebung" which roughly translates to "floating"). For example in some types of German medieval music, they play on a drone flute that has one side tuned like a tin-whistle in (alto) G and the drone has one hole that changes the drone from G to A so you can play "minor" scales (rather dorian, like in many ITM tunes). And the G can be tuned slightly "off" so the two Gs together produce a beat.
Is that done on the Uilleann pipes, too, or on GHB drones?


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 Post subject: Re: Flute tuning
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 11:16 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
I think to answer any of your questions, first step would be to determine what you consider 'in tune'. Equal temperament? a meantone temperament, just intonation or any other of the many possible tunings?


Agreed, I like to say that intonation is in the ear of the beholder!

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