Boehm Flute Demo

Boehm Flute Demo

I promised two members I would demonstrate playing Irish on a Boehm flute with a wooden head joint. Included is a demo of a hornpipe using a glottal stop and a strike (or tap) to start the tune. I did two times for each for only the beginning of the tune. I’ve added The Earl’s Chair using the strike at the beginning and playing the whole tune. Finally, I included a performance shot of me with the flute I used in the recording.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/sn51fr64sz1z3n4/AAC9X9XfklqX6U1MQEyhe60Ga?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/5r3qjhu4o8awhs3/irheart31.jpg?dl=0

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Here you go:
https://youtu.be/JRTtNc8mONY

Your comments are in the description if you go to watch on youtube.
I’ll send you the details so you can take control of your channel.
Thanks for posting the files!

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Even though I knew that most of the timbre comes from the headjoint I’m still surprised how "wood" you sound.

Does your wood headjoint have the Boehm squarish blowhole or the traditional oval one? I think some of the Boehm sound is due to the blowhole shape.

For a few years I was playing some trad Irish on Boehm alto flute, which goes down to G just like the fiddle. It’s ideal for playing those low-range fiddle tunes.

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It’s the square cut. Thanks for commenting.

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@Ailin: Your playing does not sound anywhere remotely close to an Irish style, but rather typical misunderstandings from a classically trained player. When you start The Earl’s Chair it’s initially even difficult to hear what tune you’re playing. And the second bar of the tune shows you haven’t understood what a roll is. I recommend that you find yourself a good teacher (perhaps online) if you plan to continue playing Irish music.

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I agree. But be kind.

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Damien, that sounds much more convincing, for sure. The main thing I noticed (ie my only real complaint) is just how much sound there is from closing the keys. It’s a similar issue I notice with people like Billy Clifford and Sean Moloney, though, and I love both of their playing a ton, so I doubt you’d get many people raising an issue with using that flute.

But really, I’m not too worried about the tone of Boehm flutes - that’s never the main issue with people using them.

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My observation is that Damien did a better and cleaner version of what I did. That is to say, his rhythm and ornaments were like mine, thus enabling a valid comparison.

The purpose of this thread was two-fold. I wanted to demonstrate both a glottal stop and a tap to start a tune. No one has addressed that. Second, I wanted to demonstrate how a Boehm flute might sound for Irish. Only Richard Cook has addressed that - positively,

I am not soliciting opinions on my playing. I am very secure in my abilities, but I do have a severe hand condition that compromises how cleanly I can play, especially as I get used to using the Boehm, which, for dance tunes, has only been happening for a week.

This thread is in response to the one I started on using a Boehm when I had previously thought it had to be a simple-system wooden flute. Necessity in the form of my hand condition forced me to re-evaluate that. I believe the change is working.

David Levine asked me to demonstrate using a tap as opposed to the glottal stop he uses on a tune he posted. So I did. I see no problem there.

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Thanks for providing the demonstration, Ailin! Damien, I really like the sound of your flute — if anything, I like the gentle tapping of the keys Nico mentioned, which adds a percussive quality you can sometimes hear on accordion recordings.

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@Ailin - If there is a physical issue — "a severe hand condition" — then you should certainly slow down. Speed for its own sake too often ruins the music.

Confirmation Bias can be a terrible thing. We often see and hear just what we want to, regardless of evidence to the contrary.

"The Dunning-Kruger effect shows up on both ends of the competence spectrum, and afflicts both superbly competent and incompetent alike. Confirmation bias complicates things, because we reinforce what we know with our own ["biased"] observations."

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Unfortunately it’s really hard to address the glottal stop and tap at the beginning, because neither was executed in keeping with the prevalent styles in traditional Irish music.

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Slowing down doesn’t help. The issue isn’t speed, it’s the precision with which the fingers strike their intended target. Playing slowly neither increases nor decreases the likelihood of that happening. I wish such a solution was possible, since I am happy to play more slowly if that either helped or allowed me to gradually increase the tempo over time.

My chief failing has been switching flutes in search of the holy grail, when what I need to do now is let my fingers become accustomed to the spacing on one flute so sense memory can kick in. Since I play many kinds of music, settling on the Boehm carries the advantage that I am not even switching between a SS
flute for Irish and a Boehm for everything else.

Your second point sounds extremely self-serving, which is to say, a seemingly polite way to insult me. Let’s stick to discussing glottal stops vs taps and Boehm vs SS.

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Nico, I don’t know how you reached that conclusion. Even if you were correct, it would be impossible to tell. I can’t imagine how anyone could do either technique incorrectly. They are not difficult.

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"Nico, I don’t know how you reached that conclusion. Even if you were correct, it would be impossible to tell. I can’t imagine how anyone could do either technique incorrectly. They are not difficult."
Yes, this is indeed an issue. It’s actually quite straightforward to tell when someone is doing a tap (aka strike) incorrectly - if it doesn’t sound like what it’s supposed to sound like, then that’s that. I agree that they’re not difficult, but first you have to know how they’re supposed to sound. Since you say you can’t understand how they’re incorrect, I have to assume you don’t know how they’re supposed to sound. With respect to glottal stops, again it’s a matter of understanding how they should sound. It sounds like you’re just putting a full stop, with a pretty big gap, rather than using them in what would be a more typical manner in the context of the previous thread. Of course people put full stops in the music as well, but that would be a different context.

I don’t agree that David is insulting you by pointing out Dunning-Kruger. I think it’s actually an attempt to help you improve, as no one can improve if they don’t think they need to.

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Nico, I fully disagree.

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Ok.

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Just to compare and contrast, here’s a quick raw demo recording I threw together right now of my playing of Lord Inchiquin along with Steve Baughman and Robin Bullock’s recording of the tune, warts and all…

http://michaeleskin.com/recordings/demos/lord_inchiquin_demo_17sep2021.mp3

This is on my 1857 8-key wooden Metlzer flute with a custom half-lined Hammy Hamilton wooden headjoint.

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I would only say that the demo Ailin posted did not convince me that ITM can be played well on the Boehm flute, at least not the way I want to play it or hear it. Damien Rogeau’s version is much closer and has some nice "honk."

Joanie Madden certainly does it well.

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Very nice, Mr. Eskin. I bet you like Hammy’s headjoint.

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It is a vast improvement over the original. The flute with its original headjoint was optimal at something like A:453 and the headjoint would have to be pulled nearly as far as it would go to play at A:440. I commissioned Hammy to build a half-lined one that matched the rest of the flute, but would be optimized for A:440 pitch. I had previously had one of his keyless flutes so I knew I was comfortable with the design of his headjoints. It’s a very easy flute to play and fairly forgiving for a player who doesn’t practice his flute as much as he should. 🙂

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Ailin, I don’t at all begrudge you for playing music the way you want to. Frankly you do tend to have a reserved confidence in your ability. That’s understandable. I believe you have neuropathy. I’m not getting any younger. No one here is either. If Boehm flute helps you play I say go for it. I’m serious, it can be just what the doctor ordered. You don’t need to prove yourself to board members for validation. You are free to do whatever you want; especially if that’s what you need to keep playing flute and improving.
Best to you!

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Thanks, Ben. I agree I don’t need to prove anything and such was never my intent. I wanted to share what I had discovered so new members who played a Boehm would know they had an option to stick with it, if they chose. I think I made that clear without any attitude or ego. I posted the clip because I was asked by two members. I made no claims. What some choose to say sometimes baffles me. It’s just a web forum. No need to belittle me. But I’ve seen it before. Comes with the territory. I’d be glad if Jeremy locked this thread down. Thanks, again

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About F#, for me it’s the most awkward thing about Boehm fingering, coming as I did from the pipes, whistle, and traditional 8-key flute.

In England there was resistance to the Boehm on many counts and endless tinkering by makers trying to create a compromise between the traditional 8-key flute and the Boehm. One thing these hybrid flutes had in common was keeping the traditional fingering for F#. It’s probably why Paddy Carty used a hybrid flute rather than the pure Boehm, and I think his choice was a wise one.

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@Richard D Cook
"About F#, for me it’s the most awkward thing about Boehm fingering, coming as I did from the pipes, whistle, and traditional 8-key flute."
I think it makes perfect sense to have this fingering because the flute is in C (F is in the natural scale of the instrument). While I agree it’s not conveniant for Irish music, I’d say it is a plus for Balfolk, Breton and Scandinavian folk music. It’s the only reason I still play the Boehm flute.

On the recording I posted above, I let my right hand ring finger rest on the f# key while playing A, B or C.
I also did’nt use the Eb key (wich is supposed to be pushed all the time except for D).
It makes the sound a bit less precise but it’s a huge gain in velocity and it also means less key noises.

@Nico
"The main thing I noticed (ie my only real complaint) is just how much sound there is from closing the keys."
I fully agree and I don’t like it either but I think It could be reduced by quite a lot if I ever replaced the pads of the keys. That would cost 2/3 of the initial price of the flute saddly.

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@Ailin - I too am surprised at some of the comments.

The object of the exercise was to demo a glottal stop and a strike/tap (or tap) on a Boehm flute with a wooden head joint, and that’s exactly what you did.

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I think that the sound we are hearing when the pad hits the hole on the Boehm flute is an echo. I assume that’s because the pads are hard and that softer pads would not cause that sudden stop. And our fingers are softer than the hard pads so I also assume that’s why we don’t hear it on the wooden flute. Or is it because the wood itself absorbs vibrations that we don’t want to hear — and that it’s the metal tube that causes that sound. I don’t hear it on Tara Breen’s wooden Boehm system flute.

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This is in reply to Henrik’s comment. Alan has lost a lot of feeling in his fingers. Sometime ago before this trouble he posted himself playing the Bucks of Oranmore in his local session. His playing was spot on. Chet

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Cac said: "Sometime ago before this trouble he posted himself playing the Bucks of Oranmore in his local session. His playing was spot on."

It would be great if you or someone could find that. I tried searching YouTube (for "Alan Maslac") and found very little - nothing I’d link to here at any rate. Something good would be a Ray of sunshine!

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Always happy to hear a rendition of the "Bucks" on the flute. Surely it can’t be beyond the wit of man to put it up again somewhere.

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Bex, pm me with how to do the YouTube channel you set up for me and I’ll put it up.

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Going to bed - will do tomorrow.

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Well done! I’d venture to say no one would suspect a Boehm without your revealing it. It wouldn’t actually matter if they did, but you take my point. Thanks for posting.

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Thanks for the kind words, Ailin.

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Nicely done!

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Ailin, you can easily upload a recording on vimeo if you register with an email account. It’s free to upload. To do a YouTube style channel {the upgrade} vimeo has a 30 day free trial and then $20/month. I would love to see more links to vimeo. I was interested to check it out because I typically use Dropbox. I used an mp4 of a friend to upload. It’s just the video with a title (basic). https://vimeo.com/608546057

Let me know if you’re interested in having a recording on vimeo. I can upload one or help you check it out yourself.

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InSearch, nice! Another demo that the biggest factor in tone is embouchure rather than flute.
AB - vimeo obviously works, but since YouTube channels are free, what would you say is the actual advantage of vimeo?

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Mighty stuff!

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@Ailin - "I don’t know why the old link failed."

A few years ago Dropbox admin sent an email to all users telling them of a change of some kind, may have been a server location or something. They gave an option to agree/disagree, with a warning that after a certain date, the content would be deleted.

I had a few unimportant items on Dropbox, and I forgot to reply to the email, and they were deleted.

Anyway, you’ve posted a new link (which works, although I can’t hear audio, but that’s my problem).

I should say that I have heard your playing in the past, and it is pretty slick.

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bex, I’ve used vimeo for years to find and listen to music. I like having alternatives to YouTube. Now that I know I can upload on vimeo it’s a natural for me.

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I took flute lessons as a child on a regular silver flute and I have to say after listening to OP’s demo, my advice is to forget trying to figure out how to make your silver flute work for Irish music and just get yourself an Irish flute. It’s not hard to make the transition. It’s so much easier to play an Irish simple system flute, the fingering difference is not a bother at all. There’s no clicking sound of the keys. The rolls and things are not so slow and clunky. There’s no reason to persist on Boehm flute if you don’t absolutely have to. If you can’t make the switch, play the whistle instead for a while. It might be different enough to help you transition.

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I never had difficulty transitioning to SS from Boehm and an playing SS in my session clip, so I agree with you. My intent is to simply show that Boehm is an option. Joanie Madden excels on Boehm as well as whistle, so she is comfortable alternating the fingering as a matter of course. Don’t know why she favors the Boehm, but there it is. If I could, I’d stay with SS. Others might simply because it’s what they know. I wanted to show that’s okay.

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"I never had difficulty transitioning to SS from Boehm."
Ailin, I don’t want to differ but it seems that transitioning to a simple system may have resulted in a series of difficulties over the years. I’m just putting it out there as pure speculation on my part. Am I completely off in suggesting that simple system was not as simple as you originally thought?

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Way off, Ben. I started on SS in the mid-70s to play Early Music. I had started Boehm in 1968. I started Irish in 1983. By then, SS was second nature.

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Thank you, Alan.

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