Question for expert flute players: Is this useful for ITM?

Question for expert flute players: Is this useful for ITM?

I’ve found this flute being sold by a guy who repares woodwinds. He’s 600 km from home so I cannot try it, but he says it plays in A440. It’s has 10 keys. I don’t have an english style flute to compare the hole sizes but to my eye they seem to camp on the small side, like an old Buffet flute I had years ago. The price is near USD 250, a bit more than the minimum wage here, so not cheap but cheaper than a decent used Boehm.

I don’t know how to post images so I’m attaching a link, please let me know if I have to fix something or it’s not allowed.
https://articulo.mercadolibre.com.ar/MLA-885372751-flauta-traversa-de-madera-del-siglo-xix-completa-funcional-_JM

What’s your opinion on this kind of flutes for playing Irish music?

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Re: Question for expert flute players: Is this useful for ITM?

Well, it would be a heavy instrument, relatively.

I suppose the price isn’t unreasonable for where in the world the instrument is, and how useful it is (or isn’t) to local musicians. But the key thing isn’t really whether it’s a good flute for ITM, it’s whether it’s a good flute full stop. I mean, from the photos it doesn’t look a disaster. If I had $250 I was content to lose, I might well take a punt on it. But it is a gamble, unless you can get some reliable information about it.

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Re: Question for expert flute players: Is this useful for ITM?

I feel badly having to disappoint you, but my own opinion is that the flute would not be suitable for ITM. The tone holes are too small. (I have a flute which is similar to that one although it has fewer keys, and it is only useful for learning how to use the keys.) I also don’t think that a Boehm flute is suitable (and although this is also my personal opinion it is striking that there are only a handful of good trad flute players who play a Boehm flute). Since you are in Argentina you should contact Santiago Molina (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpPXtR9Rsbk). He is a very, very good flute player and can give you expert advice. It is not necessary to have keys to play 90-95% of Irish trad music, and even for those few tunes where keys are useful, it is often possible to find workarounds which don’t require keys. Good luck! Chet/Miguel

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Re: Question for expert flute players: Is this useful for ITM?

Thank you Calum, yes I know it’s a gamble, and the flute looks suspiciously immaculate for an old flute, I will try to locate the seller for a video or something.

Hi Miguel! I know Santiago, he’s a great player indeed. While the Irish community here is the 2nd larger in the world after USA, the ITM scene here is quite small so we know each other. Santiago plays mostly Copley flutes, that are totally out of my range. I was considering a M&E delrin, but after the criminal import duties we have here, it will cost me the same as a Michael Vignoles practice set, so I guess I will go for the pipes.

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Re: Question for expert flute players: Is this useful for ITM?

I concur with Calum. The flute is not a total disaster. It is difficult to judge its origin, the keywork is a bit of a mélange: French and German. It could be as recent as 1900-1920 in manufacture, which would reinforce the idea of playing at A=440 hz. The endcap is French in style. Because it is in Argentina, I would hazard a guess that it is rather more sweet than loud…not a ´Session Cannon´. It might speak with some resonance and authority, but the proof would be, like the pudding, in the eating.

Re: Question for expert flute players: Is this useful for ITM?

By the way, Chet/Miguel, I’m not sure about the Boehm suitability. I agree that there are few Boehm players that sounds Irish, but I don’t know if that is because of the flute or because most of the Boehm players came from a Classical or not-ITM background. I mean, if you hear Joanie Madden or Lucie Périer they sound as Irish as any other in simple system flute, and then there is Paddy O’Donoghue from Clare using a silver flute.

So, the scarcity of good players is because there are way more simple system flute players than Boehm or because the flute is not suitable? Will tradition have anything to do with this? I mean, Sean Ó Riada was bashing the accordion in the 60’s and by that time it was a stablished instrument in many areas of Ireland…

Anyway, that’s for another posting! 😀

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Re: Question for expert flute players: Is this useful for ITM?

About the flute linked to, why is the highest key-pad so huge?

It’s like the foot-joint low C and C# keys in size.

I can’t remember seeing a big key like that any higher than the thumb C key on a Boehm flute- even on the Boehm flute the C# key and trill keys are small.

But no, I’d not play a flute like that in ITM or for any kind of music I do. Big, cumbersome, heavy, complicated, and soft in tone, at best. Better IMHO to get a keyless modern "Irish flute".

Re: Question for expert flute players: Is this useful for ITM?

I would agree 100% with Richard’s last paragraph above.

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Re: Question for expert flute players: Is this useful for ITM?

Hi guys! Great feedback!
I never had a flute with so many keys and Richard reply was an eye opener. Thank you all!

Posted by .

Re: Question for expert flute players: Is this useful for ITM?

The people on the Fb Flute History Channel, could tell you about this flute and that large high key pad.

The holes look suspiciously uniform to me. Probably as Richard said sweet or soft in tone, sums it up.
Even for playing ITM at home in the kitchen, this would likely disappoint ( but my main criteria is the low D/low end sound ) you might be after a different sound.
If I were you I’d put my money on a plastic/delrin starter from a modern maker, even keyless, rather than this instrument.

Best of luck
Pat

Re: Question for expert flute players: Is this useful for ITM?

Some, at least, flutes of that turn-of-the century or early 20th century era had most of the holes the same size. One might guess that helped keep manufacturing costs down. If the thing is set up properly, the key, when open, will be quite close to the hole and the pitch should be OK.

That sort of "German silver" can easily still be bright and shiny a century on with only a touch of TLC, but I agree the surface of the wood looks suspiciously smooth. OTOH, who would go to all that trouble to make such a close copy of a flute that may perhaps be serviceable but is probably not great?

You could have an interesting time with it and have a good chance of selling it on for a similar price. But it’s most unlikely to be the flute of your dreams.

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Re: Question for expert flute players: Is this useful for ITM?

Another suggestion,
Ask around on The Session, also the Wooden Flute ( History ) Fb group, and the Flute/Whistle marketplace, or Chiff&Fipple. You might be able to buy a decent instrument second-hand at a fair price with no wait time on one of those forums.

Pat