Beginning Flute Questions & Answers For New Flute Players

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Choose a flute design that takes into account the wood's need to move, look after the flute in the usual ways and there's no reason it won't be in perfect working order in several hundred years time. Interestingly, there are many situations in which wood is less affected than polymers - polymers melt at surprisingly low temperatures, Delrin at C, lower than the temperature at which wood burns.

They are affected by creep changes in dimension over time , and can be adversely affected by solvents, bleaches, alkalis beyond pH 9 and acids with a pH of less than 4. And delivering mothers might be wise not to play their polymer flutes after inhaling nitrous oxide!

Incidentally, I have no problem with polymers being used for flutes - I do it myself if asked. But I do have problems with spreading false rumours about alternative materials. It's sometimes suggested that partial tuning slides i.

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Unfortunately and predictably, this isn't completely true. Partial slides crack flutes partially, but they still crack flutes. French flutes crack in the barrel and in the lower end of the head where the slide lives. English post-Boehm flutes crack at both the socket end of the head and the head end of the body, where there are partial slides tucked into both pieces.

And it's not just slides that crack flutes - silver-lined sockets do it too. So the general rule is to avoid any situation where metal is entrapped inside wood. Or find some way to buffer the metal, eg my New Improved Tuning Slide. Better for what, one is tempted to ask. We'd need to come up with an agreed list of criteria for a mounting system before we could fruitfully compare differing systems. If the aim is to permit free and quiet movement and secure sealing, both systems seem to fit the bill. Post mounting enthusiasts often claim that blocks are prone to breaking, but I'd have to say I've seen more broken keys than broken blocks on 19th century instruments.

And I've definitely seen more splits caused by post mounting than by block mounting, and had to deal with more split or splayed hinge tubes and loose posts than broken blocks. I'd go with whatever pleases you visually on this one. Another popular fiction from the polymer lobby! Fortunately capable of easy dismissal. Its responsibility is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. If it's considered endangered, it should be there. While we're on the topic of environmental responsibility, it seems to me that wood is a renewable resource, while polymers are based on fossil fuels, so if you're looking for an argument This one was almost true.

Cocus comes from Cuba, Jamaica and the islands around them the "West Indies". Demand for the timber in the 19th century drove it well beyond commercial unavailability to the very edge of extinction. Fortunately it did survive, and is slowly staging a comeback, but not yet in "commercially viable" terms.

Small amounts are available from "boutique" timber dealers. Costs are high, appropriate to its rarity. Fortunately, we now have a wide range of alternative timbers for instrument making, so there is no need to seek out and destroy the last cocus tree. It is wonderful to be able to get pieces to repair 19th century flutes and make replacements for missing or damaged sections for them in a timber that will match.

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Certainly better for darning your socks. As a lapping, I prefer cork - it's more resilient and doesn't cause the bore to compress. Neither is fatal, so consider anyone who gets hysterical about either approach potentially dangerous. Since I wrote that, I've bumped into a lot more flutes whose bores have been distorted badly by thread wrapping, some very badly indeed. But, make up your own mind after reading this investigation into the topic.

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The old makers invariably used leaf springs - traditionally brass - under their keys. Some modern makers prefer coil springs, some needle springs. Does it matter? I think so - I reckon the old makers had it right. With coil or needle springs, the amount of force required to operate the key increases exponentially the further you open the key. Problem is, the starting force has to be high enough to ensure the pad is squashed hard enough against its seat to make it airtight.

As you open the key more, that force increases, giving the keys a heavy kludgy feel. Not good. By comparison, a well designed leaf spring doesn't have to increase in pressure as you open the key; indeed it can drop. It can actually drop so much if you don't get it right that the key will stay open that's not good either! The art is getting it "just so" - so that about the same amount of pressure required to lift the pad off the hole is also enough to open the key entirely. That gives the key a delightfully "snappy" action. A little maintenance is needed occasionally to keep this magic working.

A spot of cork grease applied to the tip of the spring will prevent friction and wear. Needle springs do have their place - on flutes with normally open keys like the Boehm. Here the spring force has only to be enough to hold the key open against the force of gravity.

Open hole flute vs closed hole flute: Which is best for beginners?!

It still increases exponentially as you start to close the key, but the starting force is so mild you don't notice. This one must come as a shock to Boehm flute players - they've been using sterling silver slides for over years. But there is sterling silver and sterling silver When sterling silver has been heated to near melting point eg during a soldering operation the metal is left in its "annealed" state and is really soft.

You certainly couldn't use it in this state for a tuning slide - it's so soft you could squeeze it flat between your fingers.

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But when it has been hammered over a mandrel, or drawn through a drawplate or otherwise mechanically stressed, it assumes a new state, "hardened". In this state it becomes very hard indeed, and springy. Just the qualities we want in a tuning slide. Brass, copper and nickel silver are exactly the same - they too have annealed and hard-drawn states and are only suitable as tuning slides in the hardened condition. The benefit silver has over them is that it is considerably less prone to corrosion. Aw, wouldn't that be handy.

We'd all be making and playing flutes from bamboo, electrical conduit, water pipe, rolled up newspapers, car exhausts and so on.

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Unfortunately, it isn't true - the head of a flute must contract for the octaves to be in tune. In a "cylindrical" flute like the Boehm, the contraction appears as a tapered head. In a conical flute, it is conspired to look like a cylinder. But it must be there. You can force a simple cylindrical flute into tune, but recognise you are forcing it. That is taking processing power from you, and teaching you habits you will have to unlearn if you then get a well-bored flute. Only you can decide if that's an approach that is going to work for you. Well that wraps up my supply of explode-worthy myths at this time, but do feel free to pass your myths on for processing!

And if you don't agree with anything I've said and still reckon you're right, do please get in touch. I don't claim to be always right, although I did know someone who was once. Flute Myths Exploded! Who to trust?

Talking Flutes!

Our topics I've broken them down into several categories, each including a number of topics: About flutes About flute care About flute-making methods and materials Go for it! About flutes Pick a flute that is played by a professional you admire Nice idea, but, like most things , it's not that simple. Good flutes should be hard to play Who came up with this one?

Wooden flutes are harder to play than metal flutes Some of them are. The materials a flute is made of make no difference Ah, at last we can pin down a source for this one - John Coltman, Baltimore flute researcher. Only an Eb key is needed for a flute to be fully chromatic No such luck! A wooden head will make a Boehm flute sound like a wooden i.

Those two open holes on the foot of an Irish flute are a sign of a good flute. About flute care Synthetic mineral oils will rot your flute This one seems directly attributable to people who sell non-synthetic oils, so we can hardly expect an unbiased account. Sudden temperature changes crack flutes This one seems to have grown out of the polymer flute business too. Polymer flutes don't need swabbing after playing Certainly, lingering moisture in a polymer or metal flute will not cause it to crack, but it's still not a good idea to put it away dripping.

Letting your wooden flute get wet will damage it Um, have you looked inside, ever, after playing for a while? Tuning slides should not be lubricated Ah, this one is easy to source and easy to deal with. In 'Talking Flutes' podcast this week, Jean-Paul is back in Clare's seaside home answering questions from listeners. For more information visit www. Please continue to send in your questions to flutepodcasts gmail. Player FM is scanning the web for high-quality podcasts for you to enjoy right now. It's the best podcast app and works on Android, iPhone, and the web. Signup to sync subscriptions across devices. Start listening to Talking Flutes! Your subcriptions will sync with your account on this website too. Podcast smart and easy with the app that refuses to compromise. Talking Flutes! Play later. Manage episode series Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.

Welcome to Player FM! Take it with you. Guides you to smart, interesting podcasts based on category, channel, or even specific topics. Looking for a high-quality podcasts app on Android? Player FM might just be it. Native American flute is a tuned instrument, which means its tuning cannot be changed.

The flute comes in many various keys, and most popular are A, G, F and E in the middle range the 4th octave. Minor pentatonic is the basic scale a NAF can play. It uses five finger holes. A flute that has six finger holes can play many more scales. Basically, look for six-holes flutes when shopping. You can always keep that sixth hole closed all the time and not worry about it. Do you have other questions? Don't forget to become a fan on Facebook and subscribe to new posts via RSS or via email. If you'd like to give something back, consider sending me a gift card via Amazon. Click here for more details.

This website contains links and references to products and services that may include affiliates, sponsorships, or other business relationships in which Flute Craft and its author may receive compensation from referrals or sales actions. All rights reserved. It's great for beginners, no need to read staff music - it uses simplified fingering notation. How do Native American flute work? Real nest explained.