Flute question

Flute question

Hello all,
I wonder if there are any flute players out there that might be able to help me please?
I’m new to playing the flute (only since Jan this year, but have played tin whistle before that). Recently, I’m getting a strange sound (sometimes) when playing low A or B notes…almost like a gurggling sound!! (as opposed to a consistant clear sound). It’s as if the air blowing through was vibrating (another desctiption I can think of is if you are driving, and you open one car window and the air in the car seems to vibrate). Apologies if this sounds crazy!
It’s only happened recently, and being the summer, I’m not in contact with flute teachers or classes, so I have no one to ask locally.
Anyway - just wondering if anyone had heard of this happening, and what might be the cause (apart from me being crap I guess!). 🙂
Hope you can help!
Andy

Re: Flute question

What type of flute are you playing with? Some of the beginer flutes can produce this effect.

The air you are blowing should the equivalent of blowing out a candel, not as much as say playing on the whistle, if you follow me. The embouchure should be RELAXED and as small as possible.

Re: Flute question

I forgot to add. Some flute players think that playing a loud sound is good….It’s not. Try playing a note softly and as "in tune" as is possible. It will train your embouchure.

Another possibility is a small crack. If you could bring this flute to the retailer who could inspect this for fissures, you might find out what the problem is.

Re: Flute question

Hi! many thanks for the reply!
It’s a Sam Murray flute - blackwood, keyless.
Actually, recently I noticed that it has a warp - I hadn’t noticed it before, but by chance discovered it when I placed it on a counter and it rolled. Don’t know if that is related?

Thanks for the playing tips - you are correct in that I have actually been trying to play louder. I attended summer schools recently and noticed some really good players blasting out the tunes at a great level….I thought that was the way to go so I had attempted to get this sound. All was well, but then (about 10 days ago), this vibrating noise started to happen.

I’ll take your advice and talk to Sam. I’m away to the Fleadh this weekend, so hopefully if he’s around I’ll get him to take a look for me.

Thanks again!
Andy

Re: Flute question

Andy, If you are overblowing with a really tight embouchure you could be getting a harmonic, two notes sounding at once. That might explain the gurgly sound you have been producing. Ease off a bit and try and relax.

Enjoy the Fleadh.

Re: Flute question

Flauta - Do you have a teacher? I believe you’ve started later than I have but you seem very knowledgeable🙂 I wish someone in these parts offered flute lessons

Re: Flute question

thanks for all the help guys! Can’t wait to get outta work now to go home and practice again 🙂
have a nice weekend!

Re: Flute question

Be carefull with what was said about trying to play with a small embouchure… a small relaxed embouchure works good for higher notes (think like when you are whistling), but for low notes, try to flatten out the embouchure so your lips form more of a flattened oval. You should be able to find pictures in flute books. (or internet?). Make sure to direct your air stream. Think of hitting the back wall of the tone hole. Also, make sure your fingers are smoothly covering the holes. If they were off a little, it will might make a funny noise. Get used to the larger spacing than from a regular tin whistle.

Loud playing is not bad. It is quite fun, and can be useful, but if you are playing with others, just be considerate… 🙂

Thats all for now, got to run to band!
-Patrick

Re: Flute question — volume

Just a small point with regard to volume. It’s important. I have been playing for over 30 years and, just as pipers discuss their reeds and back Ds, almost every flute player I have ever met is concerned with volume — getting the "loudest" (the better word maybe is "fullest") possible sound from the flute, while staying in tune of course. To some of the older players I met tone and volume were essentially the same thing. From my experiences teaching flute, if fluters are unhappy with anything about their playing, it is usually volume — they can’t get the sound from their own flute that I get from it and they can’t be heard at sessions. That raspy roar / blast is what most of them think of as the sound of trad Irish flute playing. I always encourage people who come to me for advice to try to get the biggest sound they can. It will vary from flute to flute of course, but most new flutes that I have played are built to readily produce a good loud sound. I played a new Sammy Murray boxwood last weekend and it has plenty of volume, if you know how to get it. Learn to get the maximum sound your flute is capable of. Once you have that, it’s easier to back off. But, from trying to teach others, it seems that if you have never learned how to do it at the start, you will find it very hard to do later on.

Re: Flute question

I want to make two points with regard to volume. Irish flute takes a lot more wind than metal flute. I can go ages without playing metal flute, and my tone barely suffers. Not so with Irish flute. Quite simply, the more you play, the fuller and louder your tone will be.

The second point I’m rather embarassed to admit, but since we’re all friends, I’ll tell you. For years, I have found that my embouchure needed constant adjustment as I played, even if I’d been doing a lot of playing and was not tired. Well, guess what? I finally stumbled on the realization that I seem to have a "lazy B" finger. As I play, the index finger covering the B hole gradually gets just a smidgen off center, and air escapes, which of course affects every other note below it in either octave. The reason I didn’t realize this sooner was because the flute reacted as if it either needed the water dumped out or the embourchure realligned. Of course, when I realligned the embouchure, I took a fresh hold of the flute and covered the B hole completely (albeit temporarily).

I don’t know if this has ever happened to anybody else, but I can’t tell you how happy it has made me to make this discovery. Turns out I’m a better flute player than I thought I was now that I am covering the damn hole!

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Re: Flute question

yeah, if you keep your embouchure good and actually cover the holes ;p then the sound works properly… not that im a flute player… just the same thing happens on the fife and clarinet when you don’t do those things.