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Xaphoon

Jack Blandiver 13 Nov 08 - 05:41 PM
Jack Campin 13 Nov 08 - 05:56 PM
Phil Edwards 13 Nov 08 - 08:09 PM
Ernest 14 Nov 08 - 02:03 AM
Geoff the Duck 14 Nov 08 - 02:58 AM
Phil Edwards 14 Nov 08 - 03:04 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Nov 08 - 04:03 AM
Les in Chorlton 14 Nov 08 - 04:12 AM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 14 Nov 08 - 07:16 AM
Les in Chorlton 14 Nov 08 - 07:21 AM
Jack Campin 14 Nov 08 - 07:33 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Nov 08 - 08:29 AM
SteveMansfield 14 Nov 08 - 08:43 AM
Jack Campin 14 Nov 08 - 09:54 AM
GUEST,leeneia 14 Nov 08 - 11:24 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Nov 08 - 11:32 AM
Jack Campin 14 Nov 08 - 11:53 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Nov 08 - 12:10 PM
Jack Blandiver 14 Nov 08 - 12:18 PM
Jack Campin 14 Nov 08 - 02:06 PM
SteveMansfield 16 Nov 08 - 01:25 PM
Dave the Gnome 16 Nov 08 - 02:34 PM
Jack Blandiver 16 Nov 08 - 02:49 PM
Jack Campin 16 Nov 08 - 08:47 PM
GUEST,Larsaxel 19 Jan 09 - 12:17 PM
SteveMansfield 20 Jan 09 - 05:32 AM
GUEST 22 Jan 09 - 01:48 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 14 Aug 13 - 11:42 AM
Ron Davies 14 Aug 13 - 10:55 PM
JohnInKansas 14 Aug 13 - 11:30 PM
JohnInKansas 14 Aug 13 - 11:49 PM
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Subject: Xaphoon
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 Nov 08 - 05:41 PM

With only five weeks to go, I'm giving thought to what I can buy myself for Christmas. Generally thinking portable right now, so maybe something along the lines of a pocket clarinet or a Xaphoon. Anyone play these? Ideas & advice welcome!


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Nov 08 - 05:56 PM

I've tried a xaphoon. They seem to require very high breath pressure. I'm not quite sure what the point of them is - a cheap clarinet can do the same job and a Turkish mey/Armenian duduk/Georgian duduki/Azeri balaban has a more distinctive sound.

I have a Susato G sopranino recorder beside the keyboard at the moment. Now that's portable. Ideal for Scottish pipe tunes.


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 13 Nov 08 - 08:09 PM

An American friend raved about his xaphoon a while back, to the point where I nearly rushed out and bought one. "Portable as a G whistle, sound of a soprano sax" was (more or less) his summing-up. "Put it in your jacket, whip it out at traffic lights," he said.

Can a duduk do that, eh?

(I have to admit, I've got a G whistle and have never felt the urge to put it in my jacket and whip it out at traffic lights.)


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Ernest
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 02:03 AM

"Whip it out at traffic lights"

Why? Does it play frequences that will change the colour (of the lights!)to green?















Any harmonica will do that.....eventually, if you play long enough....

;0)
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 02:58 AM

A friend has been playing one for a couple of years now. He seems happy with it.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 03:04 AM

I think those lights must be broken.


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 04:03 AM

Those big (expensive / fragile) double reeds put me off the duduk; a tenor sax reed I can cope with! That's how I got thinking about the xaphoon actually; a nice emerald green maybe, or ruby red... What was that about traffic lights?

Otherwise - how about a Wooden Saxophone? These look very nice actually; always had a yen for a taragato, but never had the spare readies, maybe one of these will do for nice surrogate? Thing is, when it comes to reeds, I'm very much a parallel bore man...

My favourite whistle is a tiny brass G picked up in a Northumbrian antique shop for £2 a few years back; almost too small for my fingers, but the tone is sweet right up into the third octave.


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 04:12 AM

Sean,

I think you should go for the Bb model, it be so much fun in Irish Sessions!

Trust you had a good Story Night?

Chiz

L in C


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 07:16 AM

Never tried one, though I had a friend who played a bit of clarinet and used to take a xaphoon to sessions every now and then.

I personally love harmonicas for their pocketability, and indeed have been known to whip one out of a pocket at traffic lights, whilst waiting for buses, and other opportune moments. Only thing is it's a slippery slope if you like collecting things...


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 07:21 AM

I guess we are all on the slippery slope near the thin end of the wedge, now how soon can I get to Hobgoblin?


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 07:33 AM

The problem with mey/duduk/balaban reeds isn't fragility or expense, it's that they don't work dry and being so big they're difficult to wet up. Turkish players keep them handy in a glass of water.


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 08:29 AM

If that's the case, Jack, I might investigate; I think Hilary had some in her Bazaar the last time I was passing... What's your verdict on the various Ebay packages presently on offer?

__________

Try as I might, I've never been able to make any sense out of mouth organ. For ultimate portability I draw on my collection of 100+ Jew's Harps; I even have a myspace page devoted to this, for which purpose I assume the identity of the vagabond Sundog, though I'm not sure if it's music as such, much less folk music...


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 08:43 AM

I guess we are all on the slippery slope near the thin end of the edge, now how soon can I get to Hobgoblin?

Not soon enough personally, so I've just ordered one off their InterWeb site - I've been pondering a Xaphoon for a while, and this thread has indeed tipped me over the edge ... I shall report back once Postman Pat has done his stuff!


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 09:54 AM

Hilary's meys are not that brilliant, but they can be made to work. I've got one (ana mey, the larger size); the bore was very rough and I needed to sand and oil it repeatedly. They are finished with some kind of very shiny synthetic varnish which doesn't appeal to me. I've got a much older one which works better, also a duduk and a balaban which I got in Istanbul (lovely dark plumwood). The most helpful and knowledgeable place for them I've found is the Zeynel Abidin Cumbus shop at Unkapani in Istanbul (see my cumbus page) but that was in person, what they'd be like by mail and in English I have no idea.

I haven't looked that hard at the EBay stuff - most Middle Eastern instruments are overpriced when sold that way.

Of all the instruments in this family the balaban is the one I like the most - look for Alihan Samedov on YouTube. I think he's recently published a book about it (in Azeri, I guess, I saw the blurb on an Azeri page) but I haven't seen it.


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 11:24 AM

Years ago I bought a bamboo flute. Took it home, played it, put it in a drawer. Next time I looked, it had split open from top to bottom along a growth line of the bamboo.

I would not put time and money into an instrument made of bamboo.


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 11:32 AM

The Xaphoon I was thinking of is made from plastic - bonny colours too!
See Here. As for bamboo, I'm still using bamboo flutes I made over 30 years ago...


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 11:53 AM

Some surprising tips about caring for bamboo flutes here:

http://www.japanshakuhachi.com/flutecare.html

A quick look round shakuhachi sites will show that a lot of people *do* put time and money into them, for good reason. Look at the prices they fetch!


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 12:10 PM

Invaluable stuff. Here's the link: http://www.japanshakuhachi.com/flutecare.html

Ever come across the legendary Watazumido? As I recall he played the hocchiku - there's a wiki page on him Here.


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 12:18 PM

Better site on Watazumido, his music & philosophy Here.


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 02:06 PM

Thanks - I hadn't heard of Watazumi before, it looks like I need to investigate.

On Alihan Samedov's site he says the book is "forthcoming" - there are some photos of page layouts which make it look like a slick piece of state-of-the-art bookmaking. It'll be in Turkish, Russian and English. There is also some parallel production in Azeri which he has less to say about. (I'd settle for a spirit-duplicated stapled job on newsprint in any language if it was only available).

I have Temel Hakki Karahasan's method for the mey, which isn't that good (just a fingering chart and a few songs to play on it). From what I read on the web (again I haven't seen it), Songul Karahasanoglu Ata's "Mey ve Metodu" is much more promising. Karahasan suggests open fingering, but if you look at players on YouTube, what they're doing isn't all that different from Highland pipe chanter fingering - the lower hand is closed when the upper hand has open holes. Fingering is with the middle joints of the fingers rather than the tips, again like the Highland pipes.

Samedov is given to rather overpowering backings, which aren't my thing but IB may go for it.


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 01:25 PM

Well it arrived next day, brilliant service by Hobgoblin mail order (in fact I'd have been just as impressed if I'd paid the extra money for next-day delivery, but I didn't and it got here next day anyway).

Not had much time to play with it yet, but first impressions are good. Nicely made, certainly feels much sturdier than the bamboo Xaphoons which is a factor had always put me off the bamboo ones a bit.

The lower octave fingering is pretty familiar if you're coming from a whistle / flute background, but for the D - F# of the second octave it all goes a bit weird fingering-wide, no doubt there's complex vibrating-tube-harmonics stuff going on, combined with a bit of best guesswork and some reliance on breath pressure and reed control.

The breath pressure needed is much more than a flute but much less than a bombarde or rauschpfeife; anyone who has only ever played light-touch tin whistles before will certainly be in for a bit of a shock puff-wise.

As a pretty much complete novice to clarinet/saxophone - type single reed instruments I'm making some very satisfying honking noises, some in tune and others not, and when the force is with me have managed a passable attempt in D at that old one-octave standby Speed The Plough.

The dog is not yet howling at me in protest, which is always a plus when a new reed instrument comes into the house, and for that matter neither is the rest of the family, which is even better.

Excellent fun, but time will tell whether it's an interesting try-out or something I start carrying around and playing regularly ...


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 02:34 PM

Maybe a daft question but does the fingering change when you change octave? Ie - like a clarinet. Or does it stay the same - like a whistle or a saxaphone?

DeG


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 02:49 PM

I've changed my thinking on this having tried a Xaphoon in Hobgoblin in Manchester on Saturday. Very nice instrument, even with the bog standard reed supplied, but for the same price one may buy a workable Eb clarinet from India; albeit Albert System, albeit in the 1879 British Army regulation pitch for woodwinds of A=451.9 - both of which I'm accustomed to...


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 08:47 PM

Dave: as I understand it a Xaphoon is acoustically a clarinet (parallel bore) so it should overblow at the twelfth. (I don't think I got the one I tried to overblow at all).


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: GUEST,Larsaxel
Date: 19 Jan 09 - 12:17 PM

Hello,

The Xaphoon is a very nice and priceworthy instrument. Those who have not heard it please go to Google "Xaphoon video". There you will find some good and some not so good examples of the rich sound you can get out of a Xaphoon.


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 05:32 AM

I actually sold my Xaphoon on Ebay after a few weeks - I didn't get on with it at all and the odd fingering (even below the break at the 12th) drove me nuts.

Nicely enough made but just didn't do it for me, and I'm a firm believer in the principle that if you haven't 'bonded' with an instrument after a few weeks it just isn't going to happen.

So I bought a soprano shawm instead, and am absolutely loving that (probably more than the rest of the family are in these early stages ...)


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 01:48 AM

I agree that an instrument should be your friend so if you are not on speaking terms it is just as well to look for someone elsewhere. This being said I have a very good relation with my Xaphoon. I used to play otherwind instruments but none of them has given me so much pleasure as the Xaphoon.
Some beginners have a too hard reed. Instead of the 2,5 normally used they should start with something softer. If you already know how to play the clarinet and or the saxophone there are some differences in the fingering and the Xaphoon mouthpiece is somewhat bigger and may feel odd. These "difficulties" however usually disappear after some hours practising.Those who play othe instruments such as piano, bas and guitarr do not have these problems. Therefore quite a few musicians have the Xaphoon as a second instrument.
Larsaxel


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 11:42 AM

I'm thinking about buying one of these.
Any more thoughts/experiences?


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: Ron Davies
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 10:55 PM

My brother used to play the sax.   Now his job has frequent world travel;   he takes a xaphoon everywhere.   He's pretty good at it, it sounds good--probably a lot of fun to play-- and it is in fact wonderfully portable. I'm impressed.


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 11:30 PM

The distinctive difference between a saxophone and a clarinet (or most other single-reed instruments) is that the saxophone has a conical bore that permits it to play the octave harmonic (and all harmonics above that) while a clarinet has a straight cylindrical bore that can only play the "odd harmonics" - which is why the clarinet fingering is set up to play an octave and a half with one sequence of fingerings and "breaks" in the middle of the octave to continue upward repeating essentially the same fingerings.

Some double-reed instruments behave as "open at both ends" and can play the octave harmonic, which is one characteristic that distinguishes an oboe from a clarinet.

It probably would be less rudely offensive to Adolphe Sax to call the Xaphoon a bamboo clarinet, and a decent saxophonist would feel rather limited without having the full four octave range (or at least the bottom three) of a "real sax" available; although as "something to toy with" there's nothing wrong with adapting anything that makes pleasant(?) noises to a musical novelty act.

A disadvantage of playing with an odd instrument is that it may be difficult to find anyone to play with, although that can also be an advantage since there's unlikely to be anyone handy for others to compare you with. (You can enjoy it at your own pace.) An ambitious experimenter would of course want to try to organize at least a trio to include some harmony. ... perhaps(?).

I'm having a little difficulty visualizing a Xaphoon orchestra, but ... .

John


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Subject: RE: Xaphoon
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 11:49 PM

Regarding the "high pressure" requirement (13 Nov 08 - 05:56 PM): Saxophone and clarinet reeds come in "graded stiffnesses" numbered from 1 to 6 or 7. A #1-1/2, about the "softest" used much, is very flexible (and probably too limp for public use except in the beginners' band) while a #6 is about like trying to blow a bend in a 2x4. A little sandpaper or a sharp knife used as a scraper can get you an "easier blow." "Dressing" the reed is best done when it's dry, and of course it needs slobbering before you can play it to tell what you've accomplished, but it's a fairly simple thing - or you can just buy a softer reed.

Double reed players probably do more such adjustment than single reed users, since the range of stiffnesses "off the shelf" is adequate for most single reed needs.

John


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