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Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

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tream2001
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Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby tream2001 » Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:15 pm

I was interested in seeing if there is any way to tell how a flute's sound will change when it is made out of another material. Or what factors in a material affect the sound of the flute. Thanks in advance!

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pied_piper
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Re: Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby pied_piper » Tue Aug 04, 2015 5:49 pm

There are two schools of thought on this. The popular school of thought believes that the material has a big impact: i.e. silver flutes sound better than plated flutes and gold flutes sound better than silver flutes. The scientific school of thought has performed research and concluded that the material has NO impact upon the sound of the flute or any other instrument. The primary researchers in musical instrument acoustics have been Arthur H. Benade and John W. Coltman. Personally, I used to think material made a difference, but after reading the scientific studies, I am convinced that material has no impact. Their findings indicate that differences in sound are attributable to other factors like the bore dimensions and embouchure cut.

I won't try to convince you myself, but I will point you to the scientific studies and then you can make up your own mind.

The Arthur H. Benade Archive: https://ccrma.stanford.edu/marl/Benade/ ... 8to69.html
The John W. Coltman Archive: https://ccrma.stanford.edu/marl/Coltman/Papers.html

In particular, I will call your attention to Coltman's paper, 'Material used in flute construction': https://ccrma.stanford.edu/marl/Coltman ... n-1.08.pdf
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

fluteguy18
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Re: Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby fluteguy18 » Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:36 am

I agree with PP is on the money with this one: there are two schools of thought. I however have gone the other direction in my opinion. I used to think that it didn't make a difference. But I've done too many flute appointments with clients to hold to that opinion anymore. Time and time again I've had clients use the same headjoint and change out bodies. We always do blind tests (covering all maker's marks), and in most circumstances silver bodies have seemed richer than plated bodies, and gold/silver alloys, and gold alloys more progressively so.

How? I don't know. The science seems to say otherwise. But it's a rare day that I've had a customer choose a plated body over a solid body because it has a richer sound. But at the end of the day does it really matter? As long as you like it, I don't think so!

SylvreKat
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Re: Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby SylvreKat » Tue Apr 05, 2016 9:27 pm

I know this is old, but I'm fairly new to the boards and just found this thread.

My instrument repairman attended a seminar where they set up a screen and had three flutes by the same maker, one silver one gold one platinum. Same guy played the same part of a song as "samely" as he could. Everyone could hear a difference between the flutes, but nobody could say which one was which metal. Nor could anyone say one sounded better than the other two. He said it wasn't anything really huge-different, but the difference was very much there to hear.

>'Kat

blowtorch711
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Re: Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby blowtorch711 » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:29 pm

I think the consensus among most people who don't have any skin in the game (that is, they're not trying to sell you anything) is that the material itself makes absolutely no difference at all. But...expensive metals are used on expensive flutes - that is, flutes that are targeted at professionals and other who will pay a premium. Because of this, those flutes that get the expensive metals also get hand-built, by more experienced craftsmen, they get more attention to detail, etc. The metal only make a difference insofar as it's an indicator of other things that flute gets that makes it "better".

I have come to this conclusion: more expensive instruments are better than cheap instruments. It's not surprising, since that's usually true of most things.

SylvreKat
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Re: Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby SylvreKat » Sat Apr 09, 2016 9:13 pm

I have come to this conclusion: more expensive instruments are better than cheap instruments. It's not surprising, since that's usually true of most things.
Yes, but are more expensive instruments that much better than not-quite-so expensive instruments? :wink:

>'Kat

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pied_piper
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Re: Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby pied_piper » Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:58 pm

I have come to this conclusion: more expensive instruments are better than cheap instruments. It's not surprising, since that's usually true of most things.
Yes, but are more expensive instruments that much better than not-quite-so expensive instruments? :wink:

>'Kat
That likely depends upon the skills of the player who is playing the flute. :mrgreen: In the hands of a professional or highly skilled player, I would say the answer to your question is yes.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

SylvreKat
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Re: Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby SylvreKat » Wed Apr 13, 2016 5:56 am

That likely depends upon the skills of the player who is playing the flute. :mrgreen: In the hands of a professional or highly skilled player, I would say the answer to your question is yes.
In the hands of a pro, my student Gemi probably sounds like thousands of dollars. I bet they can even make a Parrot sound incredible.

But what about in the hands of your average, typical, non-pro flutist? Someone like me who's played since 3rd grade, who still plays in a concert band as well as soloing at church? Is there that much difference between a top intermediate/bottom pro, and a pro-level flute?

>'Kat

SylvreKat
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Re: Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby SylvreKat » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:06 am

Although I will admit, my Yami definitely plays much better than my old Armstrong workhorse. Then again, the Armstrong is 30+ years old (although well-maintained). The Yami is maybe 5 years old now. Newer build techniques also play a factor here. But last night, I was reminded just how easily the Yami plays the lowest notes, because I was struggling with my Armstrong.

So I can partly answer my own question, a level down--yes, a brand new starter-pro flute is noticeably better than a 25=year-old intermediate flute. But I still ask--is a pro flute really that much better than a semi-pro for the average player? :?:

(and apologies to the OP--I seem to have wandered the thread away from the original topic....)

>'Kat

SylvreKat
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Re: Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby SylvreKat » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:06 am

Not quite sure what the lack of any replies indicates--nobody else cares, nobody knows, or no it makes no diff. :wink:

>'Kat

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pied_piper
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Re: Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby pied_piper » Sat Apr 23, 2016 6:09 pm

So I can partly answer my own question, a level down--yes, a brand new starter-pro flute is noticeably better than a 25=year-old intermediate flute. But I still ask--is a pro flute really that much better than a semi-pro for the average player? :?:>'Kat
Probably not, but generalizations are just that - generalizations. Exceptions can be found among the various brands and even among different flutes of the same model. Years ago, intermediate level flutes were really student models but often made from sterling silver. Today, the intermediate/semi-pro models tend to be much better. Even many of today's quality made student flutes can play better than an older intermediate model. Today's flutes often come with a much better head than was available on older flutes and that can make a BIG difference in the sound. Among my flutes, I have an intermediate sterling silver Armstrong Model 80, a student Pearl 500 series, and a professional Muramatsu flute. The Muramatsu is my main flute but for a backup, I find that the Pearl sounds much better than the Armstrong, primarily because of the improved embouchure cut on the Pearl.

Bottom line is that it depends upon the players goals. Initially, a moderate-level player probably won't sound much different on a pro vs. semi-pro, but it may give them some room to grow into a better player (with proper instruction from a pro teacher).
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

SylvreKat
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Re: Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby SylvreKat » Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:01 pm

Thanks, PP.

I know what you mean by differences in the same model. Or in my case, even diff models. My silver Gemi picc plays sweeter and easier and better than the next model up. It's just an exceptionally well-made instrument, which elevates its playing.

Since I don't foresee myself going beyond playing for the Civic Band and solos for church, then I guess the personal answer to my question based on your reply is, my Yami 584 should serve my playing needs for many years to come.

>'Kat

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pied_piper
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Re: Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby pied_piper » Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:51 pm

Since I don't foresee myself going beyond playing for the Civic Band and solos for church, then I guess the personal answer to my question based on your reply is, my Yami 584 should serve my playing needs for many years to come.>'Kat
Of course, there's nothing wrong with trying some new flute bling either. :lol:

If you can get a 5-day trial, try a pro flute to find out if YOU hear any difference but get a musical friend to listen too and offer their opinion as well.

In the end, it's all about what pleases you and those who listen to you.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

blowtorch711
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Re: Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby blowtorch711 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 2:59 am

All I know is this:

I've had an old Armstrong 104 for decades (and that I really never played much until about 2 years ago). Although it's been well-maintained, my tone was pretty awful: the very bottom end was weak and whispy, the third octave was beyond my ability to get much beyond screeching. It was pretty discouraging. As luck would have it, I was planning a trip to Japan this past February. I figured out that I could get a modest Japanese step-up flute in Tokyo for about half of what it would cost me at home (USA). I went to a music shop in Tokyo and asked to try out a Yamaha 517. As soon as I started playing it, I was amazed. The bottom end was solid, strong, with a full tone I had never heard before (at least coming from me). And suddely, I could play well up into the third octave - something I had never been able to do before. And it was actually easy - I couldn't believe it. I was in love. I play-tested it in the shop for almost 3 hours, I just couldn't stop myself. As they were getting close to closing time, they were giving me hard looks. I snapped out of it, waved my credit card, and staggered out of there clutching my new baby (and rehearsing the story I was going to tell my wife when she saw how I had spent the afternoon...).
My 517 is probably pretty similar to your 584. Hand-made in Japan for the Japanese market, headjoint is "Type Am" (plays best before noon?). Mine's closed hole and with a plain old C-foot, but that's exactly what I wanted, and I'm very happy with it. It's a joy to play, and I can't believe the difference. In retrospect, I probably should have bought a nicer flute many years ago. I'm glad I splurged on this one.

DiverMike
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Re: Flute's Sound Dependencey on Material

Postby DiverMike » Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:35 pm

I found that a Gold riser makes a warmer and richer tone. Silver risers are brighter. Platinum risers, loud. Gold flutes do sound different. But It also depends on the usage. On a recording, the mic, the mix and the room sound will affect a flute sound. In a live performance some flutes carry better over the hall. And again, it depends on how the player plays. Solo work is different than an orchestral work. Recording is different than a live performance. One is not better than the other, only slightly different. I use to hear Rampal up close and his gold Haynes sounded incredible, very rich and very warm. I heard Bouriakov up close and his Altus PS sounded like the best flute I"ve EVER heard, (but he's my favorite flutist of all time). I've heard Galway on gold and silver. He can make them all sound incredible. BUT, much of the sound of a flute is the player. So find what works best for you. There is no wrong choice. In the end you're going to sound like you no matter if your on a Gold, Silver or Platinum. I also LOVE the sound of a good wood flute. Go on Youtube and check out Andreas Blau master classes on his hand made wooden Braun flute. I swear that is one of the best flute sounds I"ve ever heard. But its 90% him, not the flute.


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