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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2020 4:19 pm 
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I've just made an addition (new section - "Filling" a flute) to my Flute Embouchure help sheet document. Folk who already have it or have found it helpful in the past may wish to view or download the updated version and it might be of interest/use to those who don't already know it (same old link): https://app.box.com/s/uc8jvqt6erwijyfksdi5

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 1:34 pm 
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Jem, I've read your new section, and while it makes sense that a relatively young and healthy musician like yourself would report not experiencing much difference in the amount of air it takes to play flutes of different tone hole size and different bore size, that is not the case for older flutists/flute players. A few more specific points:
(1) I agree (i.e. it is my personal experience) that embouchure hole size makes a huge difference.
(2) After many years of searching I have yet to find research which addresses the question of how much of a player's air goes into the flute. Many authors assert (on what basis it is never clear) that the air stream is split into two equal parts. Others (James Galway, William Bennett, Colin O'Grada are just a few) assert that most of the air goes into the flute. I would love to see some research which addresses this question, even if
(3) it may not make any difference as the air from the edge tone may only be exciting the air already in the flute tube.
(4) Older players frequently refer to having less 'wind', and that is my personal experience (at age 78).
(5) I regularly (usually one flute a day) alternate among a small-holed 19th flute, a small-holed Olwell flute and a medium-holed Olwell flute. With less frequency I play a large-holed (Pratten type) delrin flute and with much less frequency I play a baroque flute (A=415Hz) and a silver flute. I tire much more quickly playing the Pratten than the medium-holed Olwell, and the two small-holed flutes (as well as the baroque flute) don't tire me at all. I expect that after you reach 'senior citizen' age you'll notice these differences also.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 1:49 pm 
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cac, well, I'm hardly young (61 and closer to 62) and distinctly unfit. I agree that age and fitness affect lung capacity and ability to support physical exertion of any kind. But that doesn't undermine anything I wrote. Even if more of the blown air-stream enters the tube than doesn't (and varying the angle of air-stream attack is part of how we control the generated tone!), that's irrelevant to the argument because, as you say it's the turbulence at the edge of the embouchure hole which sets the air column in the tube vibrating, not the amount of air blown into it. The player supplies the energy input by expelling air from the lungs and directing the air-stream with their lip aperture and sure, someone short of wind will find that harder than someone in full health and fitness. That has little to do with the conversion mechanism, the embouchure hole cut. Your flutes don't have identical embouchure holes any more than they have the same bores or tone-hole sizes. Also, generally speaking, most people find Böhm flutes much easier to sound and play loudly than simple system ones, notwithstanding their big bores and bigger number of bigger holes.

I stand by my opinion that "filling the flute" is a misconception, or at least an unfortunate misdirection away from what makes a flute easier or harder to sound well.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:56 pm 
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@CAC.

If you are blowing air INTO the flute, it must be coming out of the flute holes. Therefore, you should be able to feel the air current.

Try plugging the bottom hole(s), play the E note and observe whether finger 6 can feel any air coming out. Maybe, use the native american trick of wetting the finger.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 4:08 pm 
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tstermitz, some air definitely does pass through the flute and a slight draught can be observed (candle flame?) at open tone-holes and the foot end. But the amount passing through the tube is definitely not the full amount projected by the player, probably rarely as much as half the total, and in any case the flow of air through the tube is irrelevant to the vibration of the air-column engendered by tone-producing turbulence at the embouchure hole. Whether more or less air can or does pass more or less easily through the tube is immaterial, and if the player produces a stronger or more vibrant tone by aiming his air-stream more downwards, it is the change in the energy conversion at the embouchure which affects the sound, not the amount of air directed through the tube - if that increases it is merely a by-product, not in itself affecting the sound or the demand for air (which is probably less in any case as the energy conversion is likely to be more efficient !).

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:48 pm 
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One last attempt to provide some data on the matter of 'filling': I have two wooden flutes made by Patrick Olwell, both blackwood, one a Nicholson (medium-holed) and the other a Rudall-small-holed model. The headjoints on the two flutes are interchangeable and they have slightly different embouchure holes (one made to my specifications, the other as the maker prefers to make them; both work very well). As a control I will discuss only my results playing both flutes with the Nicholson headjoint. It is fully-lined and the cut is as Patrick wishes to make them. I have played both flutes with this headjoint many, many times and am completely familiar with their differences: the Nicholson-model flute is substantially louder than the Rudall-model flute, and it is definitely more exhausting for me to play it. Not as exhausting as playing my Rob Forbes delrin Pratten-model, but more exhausting than playing the Rudall-model.

The only variables here are bore size and tone hole size, and i conclude that they do make a difference and since there is a substantial difference in loudness, that more air is being moved in the Nicholson-model flute. I know very little about acoustics; is there another explanation for the loudness difference?

Finally a piece of evidence which supports Jem's point that size of embouchure hole affects ease of 'filling'. Rob Forbes was kind enough to make a headjoint for me with traditional 19th century oval embouchure hole to replace the headjoint with his standard more modern cut (which I would describe as two letter 'C's facing each other with straight section connecting them). The oval embouchure hole is still large, but not as large as his standard one, and it makes a substantial difference for me in terms of ease of 'filling' the flute. Chet


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2020 7:06 pm 
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cac wrote:
The only variables here are bore size and tone hole size, and i conclude that they do make a difference and since there is a substantial difference in loudness, that more air is being moved in the Nicholson-model flute. I know very little about acoustics; is there another explanation for the loudness difference?

I am no expert on acoustics, but from what I've learned in my amateur dabbling, I don't think you're "moving more air" in a flute with a larger bore, in the sense of air actually being expended somewhere.

Instead, you're trying to "excite" a volume of air by setting it resonating with the air split across the embouchure hole. And it just takes a little more energy (breath) split across the edge of the embouchure to get a larger air volume vibrating and making a sound, compared to a flute with a smaller bore.

All of which may be affected by how efficient the embouchure shape and cut is, for efficient energy transfer. I stand to be corrected on all of this. :)


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2020 7:36 pm 
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I think that's an excellent summary, Conical bore, (except perhaps for the phrase "air split across the embouchure hole", which isn't what happens) and it explains quite nicely why "fill" is the wrong and IMO an unhelpful concept/term. No-one is disputing that some flutes may seem to "take more air" than others.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2020 9:26 pm 
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I'm learning a lot here...

So Jem, embouchure hole size, shape and cut have the greatest impact in efficiency of air stream in creating a tone (what I have called ease of "filling").

Separate topic: I'm curious why we see so many different embouchure designs and cuts. Wouldn't there be a one most efficient embouchure hole size, shape, and cut used by flute makers?

While the air blown into the far edge of the embouchure hole (going both into and out of/across the flute) causes the air column to vibrate inside the flute, bore size is a factor in the success and ease of creating a tone ( or "filling") a particular flute. If I understand correctly.

I'm curious and would hope to better understand why using the descriptor "filling a flute" is not correct or accurate. And, what is the best way to describe this quality of efficiency for a particular flute by a player. How would I best describe the ease and efficiency of a flute's design that equates to ease of sounding a tone?

(I recognize that as my embouchure and the efficiency and precision of the air stream I create improve over years of playing, that flutes I once thought difficult to "fill" are now much easier to play--my efficiency is improving. I also have found your "rabbit" exercise to be helpful!)


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:22 pm 
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BKWeid wrote:
I'm learning a lot here...

Separate topic: I'm curious why we see so many different embouchure designs and cuts. Wouldn't there be a one most efficient embouchure hole size, shape, and cut used by flute makers?


Gosh, if we all had the same shape lips, then we´d all only want to kiss the same girl. . . :twisted:

Seriously, I think it is closer to rolling dice. . .there are several ways to roll your point. ´Course sometimes you have to ´make your point the hard way´.

Bob

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:18 am 
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Different embouchure hole cuts/designs, reasons for, apart from simple energy conversion efficiency: human anatomical variability; variations in human technique; variable effects of design on tone quality and individual human taste therein; effects of design on "resistance", "flexibility" etc. (perceived blowing response and tone-colour variety) and individual tastes therein.
Player's perceptions and preferences vary within a spectrum.

Why not "filling a flute"? Already dealt with previously. There is a correlation between the volume of the instrument's bore and the amount of energy input at a transverse flute embouchure required to make it vibrate satisfactorily, but the air input doesn't in any sense "fill" that volume. My own subjective preference for a descriptive word would be "drive". What energy input (= shaped air flow at the embouchure) is required to produce the desired sound? What does it take to "drive" the flute, to "drive" sound from it?

Oh, and since a flute body is an open vessel with free egress, you simply can't "fill" it anyway! :swear: :poke: :lol:

In classical Böhm flute circles (perhaps because of greater standardisation of body design) they don't talk about "filling" a flute, but they do discuss the resistance or ease of blowing etc. of different headjoint designs (including a load of equally misconceived garbage about materials!) and embouchure cuts.

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Last edited by jemtheflute on Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:35 pm 
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Very interesting.

Jim, thanks for taking the time to share that information.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:24 pm 
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This web page on flute acoustics may help understand what's doing on (I get about 50% of what's going on here and it loses me at the math):

https://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/fluteacoustics.html

Note that the size of the flute barrel isn't discussed here, in terms of what's needed to excite a larger or smaller air mass, because it's based on a standardized Boehm flute design.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:20 pm 
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I've finally managed to get something that vaguely resembles a note out of my piccolo (though not with any sort of consistency). Further practice is needed, as is a big thanks to Jem for sharing this information!

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