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Questions about the flute from a composer

Basics of Flute Playing, Tone Production and Fingerings, Using Metronomes, Scales, Tone, Studies, etc.

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othelloss
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:54 am

Questions about the flute from a composer

Postby othelloss » Sat Dec 15, 2012 11:28 am

Hi everyone, I'm a composer interested in the contemporary techniques of this wonderful instrument. But I have some questions about the fingering and the resulting notes, so I want to ask you.
If I press the d# trill key (and hold it) while playing another note (let's suppose the G# above the staff), what will happen? I will hear the D# or the G#? In general, if I press a trill key while playing other notes (above or below the C#4) will I hear the note of the key or not?
Then, these trill keys produce notes at a single fixed pitch or can you change it by overblowing? For instance, the D# will ALWAYS produce the D#4?
Finally, I heard a flutist who said that a flute produce a C# without pressing keys (its fundamental tone). So, why on the fingering charts the C# is produced by pressing Eb key with the fourth finger of the right hand?
Thanky you very much for your help! ;)

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pied_piper
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Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Re: Questions about the flute from a composer

Postby pied_piper » Sat Dec 15, 2012 11:58 am

Welcome to the Fluteland board! We hope that you will find this a useful resource for the flute and a friendly place to chat as well.

If the flutist opens the D# trill key while fingering the G# you mentioned, the result will be D5 minus 30 cents or D#6 plus 35 cents.

If you want more specifics, I suggest that you take a look at the Virtual Flute website. This site is run by the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. They do research into music acoustics and their Virtual Flute website allows you to select the various flute keys and it will predict the possible notes that can be produced. It also works in the reverse so that you can select the note(s) (including multiphonics) you want and it will show you the keys that should be pressed to produce that note or notes (if it is possible or practical).

http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/music/flute/virtual/

Regarding pressing the Eb key when playing C# - As you pointed out, all keys/fingers are up to play C#. The Eb key is normally closed. The C# will sound with or without the Eb key being pressed because most of the keys above it (toward the headjoint) are open. Since the air vents out of all the other open keys, the Eb key has a very negligible effect on the C#. Fingering charts show the Eb key pressed for almost every note played on the flute because it adds stability in holding the instrument. With all the keys open on the C#, there are no fingertips holding the flute. The contact points to hold it are the lip, the first finger joint of the left hand and the right thumb. Adding the right pinky on the Eb key helps provide another fulcrum point to hold the flute.

I hope this helps you in your endeavor.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

othelloss
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:54 am

Re: Questions about the flute from a composer

Postby othelloss » Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:56 pm

Thank you, it's a very useful app!
Another question: if I get a sharp G# (+10 cents), what's the use of the trill keys controlled by the right hand? Did they work only with the near notes? For instance, the D# key is used to make trills only with D4 and E4? No other possibilities?
Thank you again, now I'm having fun with that app!

othelloss
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:54 am

Re: Questions about the flute from a composer

Postby othelloss » Sat Dec 15, 2012 2:04 pm

Thank you, it's a very useful app!
Another question: if I get a sharp G# (+ 10 cents), what would happen if I play a sort of "tremolo", holding the G# and making a trill with the D# key trill? Would I hear the two notes? If not, what's the use of these key trills? Do they work only with the near notes (for instance, the D#key is used to make trills with D4 or E4)? Have they been introduced to simplify the fingering?
Sorry for all these questions, but I'm very interested in it, I'm going to write a sonata and I would like to understand the operating mechanism.

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pied_piper
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Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Re: Questions about the flute from a composer

Postby pied_piper » Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:21 pm

I just realized that I gave you an incorrect answer in my previous reply. I used the D trill rather than the D# trill key. I'll correct my previous post. Fingering G# and adding the D# trill would result in a D5 minus 30 cents or D#6 plus 35 cents according to the Virtual Flute. If you "trill" the D# trill key while fingering G# the pitch will alternate between the G#5 and flat D5 or G#6 and sharp D#6.

There are a few "normal" uses for the trill keys. The first is when playing C or C#, they provide alternate fingerings to more easily trill C-D, C#-D#, etc. They are also normally used with some of the third octave fingerings such as Bb and B. If the flutist fingers another note like the G# you first mentioned, trilling the D# trill key would alternate between the G# and out-of-tune D5 or D6 (depending upon which octave the flutist is playing). Because the trill keys open pads closer to the headjoint, if they are used with notes other than C or C# (the normal use) it will produce a note typically somewhere around D or D# but going slightly and progressively flatter as more of the other keys are closed. The timbre also typically becomes less focused when the trill keys are used. If the trill keys are used with other notes in the second octave of the flute, it may produce a higher pitch. Unfortunately, there is a consistent but not highly predictable pattern to the use of the trill keys beyond their "normal" uses. That is why I suggested the Virtual Flute site.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--


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