A Flute Question

A Flute Question

A friend of mine just bought an Irish flute with 3 keys. She and I (a whistle player) aren’t overly familiar with Irish flute so we were wondering … (1) It has 2 additional holes (besides the standard 6) at the end of the flute. What are they for??? and (2) what notes are the 3 keys for? I have a chart that shows the notes for an 8-keyed flute, but not a 3-key.
Thanks in advance for your help. :)

Re: A Flute Question

1. The two holes are so you can go down below the low D with a C and C#

2. It depends which three keys they are. Probably G#, Cnat and Bb but maybe Fnat. Dunno really. DIdn’t she ask in the shop??!!

Re: A Flute Question

Is it a second hand flute? I am curious, who is the flute maker?

1, Sometimes makers allow for additional key to be added later or else someone has removed keys. The top one as in the one nearest all the other holes is actually the D note. If you cover the all the holes except this one is should produce a D. If you can do this with out assistant you get the coveted ITM Dexterous Fluter medal.

2. Depends on where the keys are. Not enough information provided above. Usually 2 key flutes have F natural and C natural. I’ve not seen a 3 keyed flute but I’m sure there are a few out there.

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Re: A Flute Question

There is a choice in copying an older flute, you can shorten the instrument and do away with the foot, in which case you’d have your standard 6-hole flute, or you can copy the foot too, which as said earlier allowed for notes below the D. With all 6 holes covered you’d have additional keys to close the holes in that foot joint. Some makers will add this to keep with the physics of the instrument they are copying, for example a Potter or a Ruddall or a Ruddall & Rose, etc… It can make for an easier blow in that bottom registry. So those bottom two holes, that foot joint, think of them as just air holes… ;-)

Now for your keys, that is easy, keeping with the physics of the thing, you have six holes right, the main bits and notes, so check where the hole is that the key covers, what two open hole notes does it lie between? As Alarm gives above, the ‘probably’… If it is between the G & the A, well, it is G# / Ab…

Thank the powers that be you weren’t asking about an older instrument ~ there were a number of different key systems. One of my favourites is Siccama, great tone, but the key set up was weird…

Best of luck…

Re: A Flute Question

What are the three keys?

It depends ENTIRELY on what the original buyer wanted, if it is a neo-Irish flute made recently. Google Terry McGee’s site, look for his flute diagrams, and try to match your keys to the ones on the web page.

Re: A Flute Question

Justwhistle, this is from Doug Tipple’s website, and I think it answers your question 1.
"What is the difference between a 6-hole and an 8-hole flute?

The 8-hole flutes have two non-fingered exhaust ports. This allows the flute to be longer without changing the pitch of the flute. On many Irish flutes these exhaust ports are in the position of lower notes on the flute. For example, on a low D flute the first exhaust port, if covered, would play the C#, and the second exhaust port, if covered, would play the low C note. On some flutes these ports can be fitted with keys if desired. The exhaust ports on my 8-hole flutes are not in the positions just described.



On my flutes, at least, I cannot detect a difference in tone or volume between a 6-hole and an 8-hole low D flute, and the fingering is exactly the same for both flutes. Some players feel that the longer 8-hole flute looks more like a traditional Irish flute, and, depending on the weight of the headjoint and tuning slide, it may feel more balanced in the hand. With the lightweight machined pvc tuning joints that I construct, I don’t think that a longer flute is needed for balance, and I prefer the shorter and lighter 6-hole flute."

Re: A Flute Question

Thanks for the response everyone. I forget the flute maker’s name, but it was made in Ireland & is made of delrin. We’ll take a closer look at where the keys are located — should be easy enough to figure out. We tried covering those extra 2 holes & it didn’t make any difference in the sound, so I guess they are for future use, if needed. Thanks again.

Re: A Flute Question

The bottom two holes, as I think has already been said, are in the places where the D-flat and C-natural keys are on a fully-keyed, large-holed conical "London" style wooden flute. Because they tend to be mechanically delicate, and because they are hardly ever used in Irish music (and have no equivalent at all in the otherwise very similar fingering of the whistle) many of the older flutes have "lost" those keys over the years, and have not had them replaced. New wooden flutes may leave off that bit of wood altogether down at the bottom, or they may have that bit of wood with those holes in just to look the same, or they may be drilled with the serious intention of having those keys fitted (or at least having the option of fitting them) at some later stage.
But the reason I write is that your comment that "We tried covering those extra 2 holes & it didn’t make any difference in the sound" is puzzling.
If the note you are playing is E or above they should indeed make hardly any difference (and even then, probably only noticeable - if at all - on the E itself), but the difference should be startling when you try to play the bottom D (with all 6 fingers down). You may find the note very difficult to get, and if you do get it should be altogether lower.
If that is not the case, then I would wonder if there is actually something wrong with the flute. Can you provide us with a photograph (or a link to one)? Otherwise, I would strongly suggest you make an effort to show it to somebody who is familiar with flutes.
On the other hand, if what I described above does happen, then I think you have got to grips with the story now.

Re: A Flute Question

If it’s truly delrin (and not machined PVC), it’s likely a Seery. However, it could be an M&E because you can’t easily tell delrin from PVC (not plumbing PVC, but solid rods machined like wood or delrin).

Eric