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The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)

Jack Blandiver 05 Nov 08 - 08:46 AM
Will Fly 05 Nov 08 - 09:08 AM
Jack Campin 05 Nov 08 - 09:29 AM
Melissa 05 Nov 08 - 09:56 AM
GUEST,leeneia 05 Nov 08 - 09:57 AM
Jack Campin 05 Nov 08 - 10:31 AM
Melissa 05 Nov 08 - 10:33 AM
Jack Blandiver 05 Nov 08 - 10:35 AM
Marilyn 05 Nov 08 - 12:37 PM
Jack Blandiver 05 Nov 08 - 01:02 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 05 Nov 08 - 03:43 PM
dick greenhaus 05 Nov 08 - 04:19 PM
GUEST 05 Nov 08 - 04:27 PM
VirginiaTam 05 Nov 08 - 04:32 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 05 Nov 08 - 04:42 PM
VirginiaTam 05 Nov 08 - 05:11 PM
Jack Blandiver 05 Nov 08 - 05:15 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 05 Nov 08 - 06:33 PM
Jack Campin 05 Nov 08 - 06:55 PM
Bob Bolton 05 Nov 08 - 10:18 PM
VirginiaTam 06 Nov 08 - 02:34 AM
GUEST,Insane Beard 06 Nov 08 - 07:55 AM
JohnInKansas 06 Nov 08 - 01:04 PM
Jack Blandiver 09 Nov 08 - 08:26 AM
Jack Campin 23 Jan 09 - 07:47 PM
Padre 23 Jan 09 - 09:16 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 23 Jan 09 - 09:19 PM
Jack Blandiver 24 Jan 09 - 05:21 AM
Bat Goddess 24 Jan 09 - 08:39 AM
Bat Goddess 24 Jan 09 - 08:42 AM
Uncle Phil 24 Jan 09 - 11:53 AM
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Subject: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 08:46 AM

Seems like America Day in our wee corner of Lancashire; first the election victory, then I watch the South Park episode All About Mormons, after which I was moved listen to Paul Robeson's superlative rendering of Ballad for Americans, and now I've just this minute taken delivery of a sturdy little black plastic Gibson Tonette - Inspiring young musicians since 1936, via ebay of course because you never see these in British shops.

Any of you Americans ever played these? Maybe some of you still do... Advice? Folklore? Anecdotes?


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 09:08 AM

Gibson Tonette? Well, I'm damned if I've ever heard of one of these, much less seen one. I'd love to hear one in action.


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 09:29 AM

I can't see the pictures in the EBay listing on the machine I use for Mudcat (they now insist on bloody Javascript to access them) but you mean one of the bullet-shaped end-blown ocarina thingies, yes? If so I've played a couple of Lindsay Porteous's. Didn't like them very much, they don't have the tone of a good ceramic ocarina. They are more likely to survive being dropped, though.

Maybe you could send me a couple of pictures so I can add them to my webpage on the Italian ocarina?
It's basically the same thing.

http://www.campin.me.uk/Music/Ocarina/


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Melissa
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 09:56 AM

At my school, tonettes were played by 3rd & 4th graders..it was supposed to encourage Band (which began in 5th grade)

They were different colors.


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 09:57 AM

I've never played a Tonette and never seen anyone play one. I believe that they are used in some school systems to teach children how to play from the treble clef.

I think that's a wonderful idea. It opens a whole world of music for the children.


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 10:31 AM

They're a bad idea as a beginner's instrument because their pitch is highly sensitive to breath pressure. If you don't *know* what pitch you're aiming at, simply doing whatever fingering teacher tells you won't produce it.

The perfect use for plastic ocarinas was one I saw mentioned in an EBay auction a couple of years ago. The US military issued them in consort sets of four to troops in the Far East and Pacific in or shortly after WW2. Presumably those guys knew how to sing so their intonation won't have been far off, and the instruments were easy to carry around and proof against tropical conditions.


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Melissa
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 10:33 AM

it's awful to be in the room with that many piercing squawks..


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 10:35 AM

It's basically the same thing

Pretty much, although it features a decorative bell in suggestion of a open end. I'm treating it as a plastic gemshorn, but the tone is pretty severe. It also has a plungeable mouthpiece by which one may drop the entire instrument down to D; very useful, probably like those plungers on your ocarina page. Love the metal ones by the way; there was one on sale in an antique shop in Barnard Castle a couple of years back but I was broke at the time and had to pass.

I'll send you some pics when I get sorted.


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Marilyn
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 12:37 PM

It's interesting that you give the alternative name for this as Voice Flute. A tenor recorder in D is called a Voice Flute; I had no idea that the term was used for any other instrument.

We live and learn...


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 01:02 PM

Sorry about that - slipping into senility here. It's actually Song Flute - see Here and elsewhere...


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 03:43 PM

There was one around the house when I was a little kid, and I used to "play" it all the time. Oh boy is it ever sensitive to breath pressure!! I seem to remember the top section was detachable, and by taking it off and blowing on it, hard, you could make the most wonderfully awful noises. Ours was black, with a sort of 30s-Bakelite look to it, and it had been lying in the piano bench for years before I discovered it. But it also gave me (if not my long-suffering parents) hours of pleasure, as did a ukelele and the piano (the last of which I could also listen to live, as my mother was a fine pianist). The Tonette is one of those cheap-&-cheerful kid-proof instruments which are a great introduction to hands-on music making. So are ukes (see Kat's recent thread).


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 04:19 PM

Played one for years, back in the 1930s.


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 04:27 PM

You know I thought you meant a nose flute?
Doh!


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 04:32 PM

In the mid 60's I love my little "toniflute." I had speech and hearing problems so named it what I heard. Loved it so much so that my parents would send me outdoors with it and my siblings kept hiding it. So i must have been really horrible.

I remember once being in the backyard tootling away as a thunderstorm approached. Someone told me that I had angered God with my noisemaking and poor little 9 year old me, believed it. I don't remember playing it again after that.

Sigh.


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 04:42 PM

What an awful shame. I wonder if insensitive neighbours and other adults of the species ever realise what harm their thoughtless comments do? A source of joy and accomplishment choked off in an instant. I don't suppose you still have your little flute, do you?


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 05:11 PM

Don't have the little toni anymore.

However, don't fret Bonnie.   I later taught myself piano and guitar and was passable guitarist in the teenage years until motherhood and career took all my time up and then arthritis did me wrist in. Currently learning appalachain dulcimer and soon mandolin. I do fiddle around with song stone (4 hole ocarina) and I could play harmonica if I applied myself. And I carry a permanent instrument. I sing. So I am good.

The thread originator did ask for anecdotes and I supplied one.


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 05:15 PM

Love it - seriously; even for a mass-produced piece of plastic this little instrument obviously has an intrinsic folklore & cultural mystique which I need to understand. Tomorrow, I'm playing it outside to see if I can raise a thunderstorm...


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 06:33 PM

I remember learning to play the "tonette" at about the age of 8, and disliking the taste of the plastic in my mouth. I was also frustrated by how limiting it was (never occurred to me to tell the teacher I'd already mastered half the Trapp Family Recorder book on my soprano recorder at home!).
I found one years later at a tag sale but left it at my last job- don't know if the young fellow who replaced me will know what it was!


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 06:55 PM

: it's awful to be in the room with that many piercing squawks..

A globe flute (Helmholtz resonator) can't squawk. They can only produce the fundamental - no octave overblowing as with tubular flutes.


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 10:18 PM

G'day,

I don't remeber seeing any of these with the bell-end ... but I played a grey plastic one with a shape that tapered to a closed end. It was a simple, but workable plastic ocarina ... and it had the two "extra" holes impressed in the mould and requiring cutting ot to extend the range by two more notes.

I can't remember what it was called ... and it probably won't help to find it, since I had (back then) a real hatred of 'brand names' ... and carefully levelled the moulded lettering spelling out its name! It certainly didn't "squeak" or "squawk" ... giving the gentle and consistent tone of a true ocarina ... if not (necessarily ...) the same quality as one of ceramic or even stone!

I'll try to find it ... and decipher the name I effaced (... mumble ... mumble ...)* years ago - some time.

* - All right ... it was about 45 years ago, although I have picked it up and played it a sporadic intervals over that time ... and it certainly never dissuaded me from taking up the whistle (unlike the enforced stint of recorder mangling in primary school!).

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 02:34 AM

if not (necessarily ...) the same quality as one of ceramic or even stone!

Bob
I only called it song "stone" cause that is what is printed on the box. It is a ceramic ocarina (flying saucer shaped) picked up in gift shop in Glen Coe. A kid's toy but I enjoy it. It does have a surprisingly nice voice for a plaything.


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: GUEST,Insane Beard
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 07:55 AM

with the bell-end

Fnaar, fnaar...


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 01:04 PM

My sister had a Tonette that apparently was a mandatory thing in her 4th or 5th grade class (ca. 1946?). They discontinued using them in music classes by the time I reached that grade two years later. I think it may have had something to do with the "music" teacher I had being a "real musician." (At least I learned to read music - multi-staff - in the 4th grade and sister didn't.)

I found that the harmonica I bought (for $0.50 as I recall) seemed a lot more "usable" instrument, although I had no trouble picking up the Tonette and playing it about as well as sis did. (She didn't enjoy practicing her lessons that she brought home, I guess. I ignored them.)

The Tonette was easy enough to play, within its limits; but to my notion wasn't a particularly "pleasing" sound, perhaps because it lacked the "harmonic content" of more complex instruments. It pretty much "sounded like a whistle" no matter what you did with it, so it added little to my repertoir of noises while I still had some teeth and could whistle like a kid.

I still had my first harmonica until my own child/children "borrowed" it, and it disappeared into that mysterious "kid place" where things go; but I have no idea what happened to the Tonette.

(At least three good hydraulic auto jacks and an assortment of other tools also disappeared into the same space after son reached HS age, so maybe it's a "kids and adolescents place." Since son is now in his 40s, I'm hoping he'll soon outgrow his adolescence forget where it is.)

John


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 09 Nov 08 - 08:26 AM

Click HERE to download free secure mp3 (via YouSendIt) of a short piece I did this very morning called November Pastoral. Essentially a live improvisation on the Tonette + animal bells & Shruti Box recorded on a Zoom H4, the bell loop comes from the bells, and the recording is processed through an Ohmygod Filter and delay, the whole piece being realised in real-time using Ableton Live 3.


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 07:47 PM

A rather silly idea:

iPhone ocarina

If you already have an iPhone, 59p should be worth it.


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Padre
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 09:16 PM

In the fourth grade (when we were in the portable buildings out back of the main school building) we were introduced to the Thompson "Flutophone" which would appear to be a 'cousin' of the Tonette. They were white plastic, had a red mouthpiece, were tuned in C and I think they cost #1.98. Each week, on Thursday, we would haul them out and squawk our way through an hour of 'traditional' music like "Down in the Valley" Our teacher was evidently tone-deaf, because she would always say "that's lovely, children," even when we were playing in multiple octaves (and keys). The exercise continued in the fifth grade as well, but (praise be) we didn't have to play them when we enterd sixth grade. By that time,the instumentalists had begun to play clarinets, trumpets, drums, etc, and the vocalists moved to choral singing, accompanied by the piano in the auditorium. Flutophones now sell on eBay for about $5.00 (but I'm not going to buy one)

Padre


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 09:19 PM

Maybe some of those clarinettists and other wind players became interested through playing the humble Flutophone, and encouraged by the teacher's compliments - ? From little acorns . . .


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 05:21 AM

The Flutophone


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 08:39 AM

Played the "song flute" in grade school music classes in the '50s -- third and fourth grade, I think.

As with everything else in music class or art class, the manner of teaching took all the joy out of the music or art. Almost ruined folk music for me, but "Acres of Clams" and "Cookaburra" won out. (And "Oh, Susannah!" and "Shenendoah"...)

The tonette is just a variety of ocarina used to teach school children how to read music.

Linn


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 08:42 AM

Ours were the "Song Flute" type -- black plastic or bakelite. Almost impossible to make an ill sound on it. Embouchure didn't really matter. It was just a simplified recorder-type instrument used to teach basic music reading.

Linn


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Subject: RE: The Original Tonette (Or Voice Flute)
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 11:53 AM

Here is a picture of some instruments that have been used in elementary school music education. The Melody Flute belongs to my wife. It's the same one she played in elementary school and she still noodles on it occasionally.
- Phil
http://www.flickr.com/photos/13967329@N02/3222164331/in/pool-mudcat


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