Author Topic: No__90___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Flute  (Read 164 times)

Peter Anderson

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Playing Instruments Authentically – The Flute Family

If you understand something about how the original instrument functions, it should be easier to play with that instrument’s voice on your Yamaha AR, making it sound like the original    It matters how you handle your Keyboard keys, if you want the instrument Voice to sound like the real thing.

I am assuming that you have read the previous Pearls covering other instruments, starting with No 89- The Clarinet, because I will not go into so much detail about such things as vibrato, sustain, breathing, phrasing, playing multiple notes, range, etc., though I will refer to these things as necessary.

To open those previous articles click on these links, but if you click on the first one, the Clarinet, then at the end of each is a link to the next, so that you can read them in logical sequence.

Click this link to take you the Clarinet Pearl
http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=3083.0

In the next Reply we start to explore the Flute Family, and commence with the Flute itself.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__90___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Flute
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2018, 03:53:30 PM »
Flute

The Flute

The flute is a beautiful sounding instrument, belonging to the woodwind section, but unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening.

The flute can be played as part of an orchestra, band, or enjoyed on its own. It is also the oldest known musical instrument.

For years flutes were made of wood, but during the last century, metal flutes became popular.   However, the wooden flute has recently been winning new fans.    The tube is made of a heavy wood known as grenadilla, while other components such as the key posts and the keys are made of silver.   The warm timbre that is produced possesses great charm.

Flutes are always woodwinds, even when they are made of metals, because that is what they are classified as - woodwind instruments - within the conventional system of classification of musical instruments.

Woodwind instruments fall under one of two sub-classifications: flutes, and reed instruments.

The flute family can be divided into two subfamilies: open flutes, and closed flutes.

An open flute requires the player to blow a stream of air across a sharp edge that then splits the airstream. This split airstream then acts upon the air column contained within the flute's hollow, causing it to vibrate and produce sound.

Examples of open flutes are the Western concert flute, the piccolo, transverse flute, panpipes and ocarinas. Transverse flutes include the Western classical flutes, the Indian classical flutes (the bansuri and the venu), the Chinese dizi, the Western fife, a number of Japanese fue, and Korean flutes such as Daegeum, Junggeum, and Sogeum.

A closed flute requires the player to blow air into a duct, which acts as a channel, bringing the air to a sharp edge.    As with the open flutes, the air is then split; this causes the column of air within the closed flute to vibrate and produce sound. Examples of this type of flute include the recorder (block flute), and organ pipes.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__90___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Flute
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2018, 03:54:32 PM »


Silver-coloured flutes may either be silver-plated, or made of nickel-silver or solid silver.   Solid silver also known as sterling silver, is silver with a purity of 92.5%, and this is used for both the tube and the key system.   Solid silver flutes weigh 440 gms, while golden flutes  are made of gold of various different purities, such as 9-carat, 14-carat, (weigh 500 gms) and 18-carat gold.   The higher the number, the higher the percentage of gold content.

In 14-carat gold, gold, silver, and copper are blended together, and higher levels of copper give the metal a reddish hue, while higher levels of silver produce a yellowish gold.     In a concert hall, red 14-carat gold really sparkles like gold.
As a musical instrument, it is important that a flute's sound be beautiful, but  for aesthetic purposes, the design and the material also need to be beautiful.

Other metal flutes can be made with platinum, which weighs more than gold.  These instruments produce a correspondingly stronger sound and are highly spectacular, as they seem to fill every corner of the concert hall with sound.      Flautists who are used to playing a silver flute normally lack the strength to get the full sound out of a 14-carat gold, (weighs 500 gms) 18-carat gold, or platinum flute, as, surprisingly, flutes of different materials each have their own corresponding playing methods.

Some flutes have an extra key at the end, and that instrument is called the B foot flute, because the player can get down one more note in the range.   It is slightly longer and is sought after by advanced players.

As I have mentioned the range of the flute, here it is for you.



The range of the flute is from Middle C and upwards for three octaves.

Most flutes can only reach middle C as their lowest note, but with that  B foot flute,  (only available on metal flutes), they can get one note lower, namely the B.

The high C is normally available to all flautists, but to reach that octave higher up to that third C, requires skillful use of breath and tonguing, to achieve a clear steady sound, which not all flautists can do.

The flautist can place their fingers for playing Middle C (their lowest note, and then purely by breath control produce all the harmonics (namely E, G, octave C, etc) repeat them all the way up through the three octaves.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__90___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Flute
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2018, 09:45:20 PM »
How does a flute produce the sound?

The principle is the same as that for the recorder, which we have probably all played at some stage of our lives.      However, with the flute the lips fix the outlet for the breath, while on the recorder the windway fixes the outlet for the breath.     As the breath is directed toward the edge of the embouchure hole, (this is the hole that the flautist blows across – see picture below) high-pressure sound waves pass through the tube and reach openings such as the end of the foot joint (farthest away from the player) and the sound holes, which are covered by fingers or pads controlled by the fingers.   



These waves then bounce back and try to force the air in the vicinity of the embouchure hole back out through the embouchure hole.    As this happens, the sound pressure in this section of the instrument falls, and air is sucked back in. Waves are then produced that cause the air around the edge of the embouchure hole to vibrate up and down, producing changes in the sound.

You may wonder why metal flutes have a lip plate.   The reason is simply to create the same thickness that a wooden flute has.

What happens inside the head joint?

A reflective plate and natural cork are situated to the left of the embouchure hole.



The reflective plate is fixed in a position exactly 17 mm from the centre of the embouchure hole.   This is to correct the tuning of each octave, and especially in the third octave.

Because the flute is constructed with two open ends, the length of the tube as calculated based on resonance frequencies is slightly longer than the actual length of the tube. This is called open pipe end correction. Because the length required for this correction grows as the pitch played gets higher, if the flute were a perfect cylinder, as the player goes up the octaves, the intervals between notes would get smaller.  This placement of the embouchure hole at a distance of 17mm from the end of the pipe, and the conical shape of the head joint are the solution for providing this pitch interval correction.

This distance and shape is based on the measurements arrived at through a long process of trial and error undertaken by the German instrument maker Theobald Boehm in the 19th century.

 Breath injected into the flute, strikes the reflective plate and is directed to the right. The quality and rigidity of the cork influences the quality and timbre of the sound.

The head joint tube narrows toward its left end. This is described as a tapered tube.  Yamaha manufactures three different types of tapered tube.



A G-tapered tube essentially expands evenly in diameter from the thin end to the thick end. It offers a strong resistance when blown and produces a deep sound. A C-tapered tube has a streamlined shape like a liquor bottle. It is easy to blow into and produces a light timbre. The shape of a Y-tapered tube is a combination of the G- and C-tapered tube shapes, offering moderate resistance when blown and producing a delicate sound.

There are also a number of variations to the cut of the embouchure hole. First, the embouchure hole can be cut square or rounded, and there can be variation in the amount of shoulder cut or undercut. The nature of the tapering determines the most suitable cut for the embouchure hole, which, in turn, greatly affects the feel of the instrument when you play it.



Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__90___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Flute
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2018, 10:16:25 PM »
How does the flautist play the flute?

They take deep breaths and don’t just blow, but create the correct embouchure to play correctly.    Think of spitting out a sunflower seed!     Don’t try it now! Imagine doing it and then freeze after you spit the seed out.   That is how small the hole of their mouth needs to be while they blow.

Then imagine them saying the word "poo" while freezing their face. Now add those two together and you now have the correct embouchure to play.

By saying the word “foo”, or “too” they can create different effects.

They then blow across the mouthpiece, like blowing across a bottle.   The sound is produced by the breaking of their airstream on the edge of the embouchure hole.    Half their breath should travel above the hole, and half should travel down through the flute.

They work hard to achieve a full steady note, which is why they need to take deep breaths, though by effectively saying different words, as mentioned above they change the attack of the note.

But the flautist can obviously produce changes in pitch by covering different sets of holes with his fingers or pads controlled by levers.   

But they can also change the pitch by the speed of their breath.     Faster breath will produce a higher pitch, and slower breath will produce a lower pitch, like this:

Mouth Opening      Breath Speed      Pitch
Wide                             Slow                Low
Normal                        Normal            Medium
Narrow                          Fast                 High


Tonguing

It is the Headjoint that produces the sound.

Moving their tongue to say “too”, while blowing, the flautist creates a much clearer sound.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__90___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Flute
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2018, 02:53:48 PM »
So let’s revue all this.    A flute produces sound when a stream of air directed across a hole in the instrument creates a vibration of air at the hole.        The airstream creates a Bernoulli or siphon, which excites the air contained in the usually cylindrical resonant cavity within the flute.     The flautist changes the pitch of the sound produced by opening and closing holes in the body of the instrument, thus changing the effective length of the resonator and its corresponding resonant frequency. 

By varying the air pressure, a flautist can also change the pitch by causing the air in the flute to resonate at a harmonic rather than the fundamental frequency without opening or closing any holes.

Head joint geometry appears particularly critical to acoustic performance and tone, but there is no clear consensus on a particular shape amongst manufacturers.    Acoustic impedance of the embouchure hole appears the most critical parameter.      Critical variables affecting this acoustic impedance include: chimney length (i.e. the hole between the lip-plate and the head tube), chimney diameter, and radii or curvature of the ends of the chimney and any designed restriction in the "throat" of the instrument, such as that in the Japanese Nohkan Flute.

A study in which professional flutists were blindfolded could find no significant differences between flutes made from a variety of metals.      In two different sets of blind listening, no flute was correctly identified in a first listening, and in a second, only the silver flute was identified.   The study concluded that there was "no evidence that the wall material has any appreciable effect on the sound color or dynamic range".

In the next Reply, we consider how we set up the Flute Voice to play on our AR.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__90___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Flute
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2018, 06:15:55 AM »
You can understand from all this, that the flautist can generate subtle changes to the sound produced, so on your Yamaha AR, you can adjust the many different settings that are available to produce the flute sound that you like.   The main area for this is in the Condition Page.

Pay particular attention to the range of the flute, which is from Middle C and upwards for three octaves, so with an 8' setting on your Flute Voice, never play the notes in the lowest octave of your upper keyboard, to be authentic.

Make the necessary adjustments to the notes you actually play on your Yamaha AR, if you select either a 4' or 16' setting for your flute

A good flautist can generate a little vibrato when playing longer notes or playing slowly, but not as much as a clarinetist.  So if you use vibrato, do so sparingly and with very low settings.

Remember that once a flautist stops blowing the sound stops immediately, so never use Sustain on your Organ with a Flute Voice, because it is impossible to do so on the real instrument.   

Yamaha help us here in that they made sure that with a Voice on our Lead, on the Upper Keyboard, you cannot choose sustain, anyway!

Don’t forget that a Flute player can only play one note at a time.
So to be authentic, make sure you do the same, and only play single note melodies.    Therefore, it is helpful to select your clarinet voice from the Lead Voice section.   
It also prevents you from wrongly adding sustain, as we have have just noted.

By controlling the air flow, a flautist can slightly increase the volume on one note, or a series of them.     This is no where near as great as can be done on the clarinet, but the flute player can achieve some small variation here.

Equally, do consider 'dynamic contour'.        By that I mean simply, that unlike a piano or violin, all brass and wind instruments don't have the ability to go from very soft to very loud right across their entire range.      So there is no point in expecting a real flute player to play his lowest Middle C at ff, or in his highest ranges at pp.     It just can't be done, so to reflect authenticity, adjust your AR Voice accordingly.

We have on our Yamaha AR organs, both Initial Touch and After Touch
Initial Touch is affected by how hard you strike the note, whereas After Touch reacts to how hard you press down on the note once you have struck it.     You can combine these two to create the same effect that a flautist can make, but the difference for the flute player is much less than the on the clarinet.

Don’t forget that the flute player has to breathe regularly.  So when you use that voice on your AR, you should also ‘take breaths’.
One way of perfecting this is to take a real breath yourself,  as you begin to play a phrase and as you let it out, see how long you can maintain it before you have to take another.  This should help you to lift your fingers from the keys at appropriate points, especially at the end of phrases, in order to allow the flautist to effectively take a breath.

And again with Initial Touch and After Touch you can reproduce what the flautist does with their breath control.

I trust this will help you to think, therefore, and play like a true Flautist.

Peter


p.s.
In its most basic form, a flute is an open tube which is blown into. After focused study and training, players use controlled air-direction to create an airstream in which the air is aimed downward into the tone hole of the flute's headjoint. There are several broad classes of flutes.    With most flutes, the musician blows directly across the edge of the mouthpiece, with 1/4 of their bottom lip covering the embouchure hole. However, some flutes, such as the whistle, gemshorn, flageolet, recorder, tin whistle, tonette, fujara, and ocarina have a duct that directs the air onto the edge (an arrangement that is termed a "fipple").   These are known as fipple flutes.   The fipple gives the instrument a distinct timbre which is different from non-fipple flutes and makes the instrument easier to play, but takes a degree of control away from the musician.
Another division is between side-blown (or transverse) flutes, such as the Western concert flute, piccolo, fife, dizi and bansuri; and end-blown flutes, such as the ney, xiao, kaval, danso, shakuhachi, Anasazi flute and quena. The player of a side-blown flute uses a hole on the side of the tube to produce a tone, instead of blowing on an end of the tube.     End-blown flutes should not be confused with fipple flutes such as the recorder, which are also played vertically but have an internal duct to direct the air flow across the edge of the tone hole.

Flutes may be open at one or both ends. The ocarina, xun, pan pipes, police whistle, and bosun's whistle are all closed-ended.    Open-ended flutes such as the concert flute and the recorder have more harmonics, and thus more flexibility for the player, and brighter timbres.     
An organ pipe may be either open or closed, depending on the sound desired.

Flutes may have any number of pipes or tubes, though one is the most common number.     Flutes with multiple resonators may be played one resonator at a time (as is typical with pan pipes) or more than one at a time (as is typical with double flutes).
Flutes can be played with several different air sources.    Conventional flutes are blown with the mouth, although some cultures use nose flutes. The flue pipes of organs, which are acoustically similar to duct flutes, are blown by bellows or fans.


In the next Reply we outline some of the variations of the flute instrument.

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__90___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Flute
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2018, 06:12:14 PM »
The concert flute, or C flute, is what we think of when someone mentions the flute, and it is certainly the most widely played instrument in the flute family.   Flautists generally start out learning the C flute, C flute silver and, if interested, add to their skills later by learning to play another type of flute from the flute family.     Variety in flutes is not a new thing – flutes have been around for centuries, and transverse flutes, flutes that are held horizontal across the body rather than vertically, are illustrated in art as early as the Renaissance.   

The types of flutes we find in the modern flute family especially started to develop in the 18th century, with solo players who wanted to extend the range  that the flute could play.      Early attempts at extending the range only slightly adjusted the size of the flute.   In fact, this is where the separate foot joint was first introduced, allowing the flute to play a little lower.      But elongating the flute this way also caused problems. The difference in length and diameter of the cylinder reduced the fullness of the lower notes and also affected intonation and tone color.   
Overall, just trying to add more notes to the C flute wasn’t gaining range while keeping the sound and character of the flute.       So flute makers needed to develop each size as its own instrument to perfect each of these instruments’ distinctive musical potential.

In the next Reply, we begin to examine some variations of the flute, and we'll start with a familiar one, the Piccolo.

Peter 

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__90___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Flute
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2018, 07:44:55 PM »
The Piccolo



Composers first used the piccolo to extend the range of the flute.    If the composer wanted a higher register than the flute allowed, the piccolo would be put on the melody with the flute playing harmony below it.     The piccolo was also often used to decorate the melody using ornamentation.

Today, the piccolo is used regularly in orchestral scores and opera.      It can add brilliance to a march, or imitate the sound of birds, as in Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus.      High, sharp sounds from the piccolo are used to represent sparks during a storm, and softer tones from the piccolo in unison with the flute can create a feeling of tranquility.

The piccolo often has a bad reputation because it can sound shrill.    It is also more difficult to play than the other types of flutes, especially in terms of intonation and tuning.      Its smaller embouchure hole requires a tighter embouchure and a faster air stream, especially in the higher register.      The higher register, also, is harder to tune anyway because of the smaller variation in wave length for each note.     At about half the size of a C flute, piccolos sound a whole octave higher than the flute.    The modern piccolo can play as low as D2, and as high as C5.   

On your Yamaha AR either choose a Piccolo Voice, which is automatically set to 4', so playing in the same range as the flute on your Upper Keyboard, replicates the true range of the piccolo.     Alternatively, choosing a Flute Voice, if you wish, and changing the setting to 4', does a similar job.

Modern piccolos are 12 ½ inches in length, with an embouchure hole of 10 millimeters in diameter, and finger holes of 6 millimeter in diameter. Because of the piccolo’s small size, foot joints were never developed on the piccolo, so they only have a head joint and a body joint.

Piccolos are made from wood, silver, plastic, or any combination of those materials.     Wood piccolos are usually the best choice for orchestral work because they have a rounder sound; however, silver or plastic piccolos are much more popular in marching bands or other outdoor performances because they can withstand the moisture and temperature changes better than a wood piccolo can.

Though many think of the piccolo as a secondary instrument to the flute, it really has its own challenges and brings its own enjoyment.

Again, just remember the distinctive features of the piccolo, that we mentioned for the flute, and reflect them in your playing, if you want your piccolo to sound effective.

In the next Reply we look at the Alto Flute.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__90___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Flute
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2018, 05:11:17 PM »
The Alto Flute



The alto flute has many predecessors, dating back through the Renaissance.     As flute makers worked to increase the range of the flute, they tried designs for a lower toned flute in Bb, A, Ab, G, F, Eb, and C.     The development of the alto flute was also complicated for physical reasons. Lengthening the flute meant expanding the distance between the key holes, as well as between the embouchure hole and the keys, making it difficult for flautists to hold and to play.

The alto flute really settled on what it is today with the work of Theobald Boehm, who developed a system of correctly placed tone holes with a rod-axle mechanism.    This is what we recognize on any flute, alto flute or classical flute type today, as the finger keys.    Boehm also recognized that just lengthening the C flute was not the way to create a great sounding instrument.    Instead, he developed an alto flute that was in exact proportion to the C flute, creating a much more consistently beautiful sound.

The alto flute sounds in G, a fourth below the C flute.     It is a transposing instrument, meaning the music is written in C and the instrument sounds a fourth below.    It is usually about 34 inches long.     To play the alto flute, flautists must use of a slightly more relaxed embouchure and gentler air stream than for the C flute.    The finger keys are still slightly spread from the C flute, but this is much less noticeable than in early versions.

Because of the large keys of the alto flute, it isn’t well suited to rapid fingering.    But what the alto flute lacks in speed it makes up in its powerful tone and colour, which is more mellow than the C flute.    The alto flute’s sound can create mysterious, picturesque effects.

The alto flute is popular among recitalists. It has been used to accompany singers, and since the 19th century, it has been used in solo and chamber music, as well as orchestral works.

In the next Reply we take a look at the Bass Flute.

Peter

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Re: No__90___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Flute
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2018, 03:55:39 PM »
The Bass Flute

These photos show two types of Bass Flute, demonstrating the angle at which they are played:



These are the least known and, therefore, the least played of the flute family.    The bass flute has an obscure reputation, but certainly isn’t a type of flute to overlook.     The bass flute sounds a full octave lower than the C flute and has a full, round sound.

The bass flute has always been a novelty.     Partially this is because of the real challenge of designing such a large flute.    The size of the bass flute has differed, usually being made anywhere from 50-60 inches in length.     Flute makers have tried many different ways to accommodate the long length and heavy weight of the bass flute.

Most modern flutes use a U-bend head joint to place the embouchure hole closer to the finger holes, but many other types of construction have been attempted, in the past.   Some bass flutes have been made with two bends in the head joint with the finger holes extending vertically.   This gives the bass flute a look more like a saxophone, but the sound is still made by blowing across the embouchure hole, rather than into the instrument.     Other bass flutes have also been made with the tube of the flute bent diagonally below the embouchure hole and a brace which could rest on the player’s thigh to help support the instrument’s weight.

Because of these problems, it is still rare to find a bass flute part written in to any large work.  The Bass flute is primarily used in flute ensembles or special commercial orchestrations.

Finally here are the ranges of these flutes:




This closes our look at Flutes.

To view the next Pearl on this subject, click this link to open the Oboe Family

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=3157.0

Peter