Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Abject Apologies!

I've just realised that it's February since I last posted here, so apologies to my readers. I could make the excuse that I've just been too busy, but since that applies all the time, it wouldn't really be a valid one.
At the end of this month I'm going to Portugal to the 5th Congresso Organologia to give a paper on:
The Irish Flute - A Recent Development in the Evolution of the Simple System Flute.

 You might question the "recent", but consider that the last attempts to improve the wooden 8 keyed flute were the attempts made in response to the Boehm flute by the likes of Siccama, Pratten and their ilk, around the middle of the 19th century.
As part of this I'm attempting to explain how modern makers began to adjust the pitch and internal tuning of their flutes in comparison to the exact copies that were made initially, and decided that the best way to do this was to use the RTTA tuning app to allow people to make a visual comparison between the 19th century instruments and modern ones.
I thought the results were quite striking, so I'm sharing it here.

First up, is the RTTA result for Rudall Rose & Carte 6318, which was tuned to a440, using the A in the lower octave as the reference point


For those not familiar with this app, see my previous post on this topic. It's a fantastic resource, and just to recap, notes in green are within 10 cents of pitch, those in yellow from 10-20, and those in red, more than 20.
Now we all know that the tuning of the cone bore flute is far from perfect, and that in practical terms anything within 10 cents is workable, but as you can see this is horrific.
Remember that musically this sort of tuning was considered quite acceptable, and that the above record comes from an experienced player who has been playing this flute for almost 40 years ( me...)

Now here's the same thing played on the same occasion on a flute that I made a few years ago.

A good improvement, you'll have to admit, and the flute was tuned to a440 using the G in the lower octave as the tonal centre. The C# is still out, but that's cone bore flutes for you, and would be correct if I bothered to use the long C.

And so to finish.
Good flute makers never stop trying to improve their instruments. That's the challenge. That's what makes it interesting. I made a few tweaks to my design in the last year or so, and did so mainly with regard to tone and response, but here's the tuning result for it.

not happy yet though....

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