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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 5:16 pm 
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Whoops, sorry for the confusion. Maybe the image wasn't available in some regions.

Overnight, the Bursar has kindly gone up and taken a closer photo of the flute player, and I've now cropped that to focus on the flute.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 6:33 pm 
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I'd think that supporting the head end on the shoulder could put a crick in one's neck! Perhaps there is something that I, not being a flautist, am unaware of that would necessitate positioning one's head in that manner? It's a bit interesting to me. One advantage of taking up the flute, if I get a good teacher, would be lack of bad habits to un-learn...

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:22 pm 
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Thanks Terry, that's very interesting. Is this a kind a bass flute? The distance between the two hands and and the stretch seem very large. :o

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:27 pm 
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The question of did people play right or left handed is easily answered by examining baroque oboe footkeys. Even in this modern replica of one by Thomas Stanesby Senior, c 1700, the maker has kept both RH and LH options open. Note the double-headed touch on the central key and the duplication of the other key. Must feel a bit strange making the extra key these days, knowing it will probably never be played!

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And of course when Hotteterre (or whoever it was) added the Eb key to the new conical baroque 1-key flute, the foot could be twisted either way to cater for LH or RH playing. It was only when the other keys were added that decisions had to be taken.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:37 pm 
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gwuilleann wrote:
Thanks Terry, that's very interesting. Is this a kind a bass flute? The distance between the two hands and and the stretch seem very large. :o


In the full image, the players look very young, perhaps children play-acting at playing? It would be nice to know more about the backstory to the mural.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:05 pm 
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Terry McGee wrote:
It would be nice to know more about the backstory to the mural.

I agree. Right-clicking (actually tapping and holding, as I'm using a tablet) and selecting "search Google for this image" was of no help. Neither was searching "Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini flute." It doesn't seem to be one of his better-known works...but he could be a relatively obscure artist. Digging up that back story is a job for someone who, unlike me, is not a philistine where art is concerned.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:37 pm 
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Certainly not an obscure artist, and quite prolific.

The scene we've been discussing is a part of the Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini mural scheme c1708, Duke of Manchester’s country house, Fresco on the staircase at Kimbolton Castle, Huntingdon.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:01 am 
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As a sometime dabbler in art, I suspect that the left handedness of the two left hand players has more to do with the composition of the whole picture as a group placed in a constrained (due to the staircase) space on the wall than with the prevalence of left handed players at the time. The artist will have had no compunctions about mirroring a pose if it suited what he or she intended.

The oboe player's choice of hands makes him (?) seem to lean out more and therefore be closer to the viewer. The sequence; flute player -> oboe player (leaning out) -> person reaching to dog -> dog is clearly meant to lead the eye to the dog, increasing the feeling of immersion in the picture. The flute and the trumpet mirror each other which gives a symmetry also leading the eye to the middle of the picture, often valued by painters of the time. This space at the middle of the picture also seems intended to increase the sense of immersion - i.e. that there is, in reality, another room up there.

OTOH I am sure that there were left handed players around at the time.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:41 am 
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kkrell wrote:
Certainly not an obscure artist, and quite prolific.

When searching for the painting of the young flautists, I discovered many works by Pellegrini. So he is indeed prolific. As I said before, I am a philistine where art is concerned. Thank you for enlightening me!

ChrisCracknell wrote:
OTOH I am sure that there were left handed players around at the time.

As Terry said in the original post, handedness was much more of a personal preference at that time. It could also be that the children in the painting had never handled their instruments before, and were doing what came naturally (as I did the first time I picked up a tin whistle: right hand on top, and it's been that way since). The flautist's grip, however, suggests to me that he had a degree of experience. Then again, they probably would have had to sit still only long enough for a rough outline to be done, so there may well be some artistic licensing at work.

This has become a much more interesting topic.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:17 am 
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Dan A. wrote:
I'd think that supporting the head end on the shoulder could put a crick in one's neck! Perhaps there is something that I, not being a flautist, am unaware of that would necessitate positioning one's head in that manner? It's a bit interesting to me. One advantage of taking up the flute, if I get a good teacher, would be lack of bad habits to un-learn...

Conal Ó Gráda does that. In his flute tutor book "An Fheadog Mhor," he has a section on how to hold the flute. He mentions that he rests the end of the head joint on his shoulder and then says don't do that, because it could cause problems. He doesn't say it's caused him any issues, but he doesn't recommend it. It's just a habit he picked up. By the way, that's an excellent tutor book with accompanying CD, available on his web site. Of all the ones I've bought it's been the most valuable.

Back to the mural.... like an earlier comment, I'm thinking this might be more artistic license than a realistic pose from life. No way to be sure, of course, but look at the way both hands are splayed out with a huge stretch between thumb and little finger. It's not to reach the tone holes, because those are closer together. Stretching your hand out like that reduces mobility of the middle fingers, and flute playing is all about keeping those fingers mobile. Try splaying out your hand and see what that feels like.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:59 pm 
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Conical bore wrote:
Conal Ó Gráda does that. In his flute tutor book "An Fheadog Mhor," he has a section on how to hold the flute. He mentions that he rests the end of the head joint on his shoulder and then says don't do that, because it could cause problems. He doesn't say it's caused him any issues, but he doesn't recommend it. It's just a habit he picked up.

That's a fair enough assessment. Shoot, I probably do things on the whistle that I wouldn't recommend, and that other players may cringe at, but work well enough for.

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