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Range of old flute?

Chris Partington 04 Nov 09 - 05:40 AM
Jack Campin 04 Nov 09 - 05:49 AM
GUEST 04 Nov 09 - 06:09 AM
Bernard 04 Nov 09 - 06:17 AM
Bernard 04 Nov 09 - 06:22 AM
Chris Partington 04 Nov 09 - 07:08 AM
GUEST 04 Nov 09 - 07:25 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 04 Nov 09 - 08:16 AM
Chris Partington 04 Nov 09 - 08:20 AM
GUEST,Gordon Tyrrall 04 Nov 09 - 11:04 AM
greg stephens 04 Nov 09 - 11:41 AM
greg stephens 04 Nov 09 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,leeneia 04 Nov 09 - 11:53 AM
JohnInKansas 04 Nov 09 - 12:03 PM
Jack Campin 04 Nov 09 - 01:03 PM
Chris Partington 04 Nov 09 - 01:23 PM
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Subject: Range of old flute?
From: Chris Partington
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 05:40 AM

I am looking at a MS from the turn of the 18/19thC, and it has a range of slightly over two and a half octaves from the A below middle C to the D(2), or in abc terms A, to d'. This is not consistent with fiddle. Would someone with a knowledge of instruments from that period please tell me which instruments this might be consistent with? I suspect flute but I'm aware that keys and other changes were making a difference at this time.


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 05:49 AM

See the historical fingering charts here:

Old Scottish Flute Music

Up to the high A is possible, G is reasonable, and any player will go up to your D.

I'd like to know more about your MS.


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 06:09 AM

Hi, Chris P, you may already have all this theory under your belt, but this site does give a lot of info on the capabilities of instruments. Hope you find it usefull.


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: Bernard
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 06:17 AM

Well, a flute would normally only go down to Middle C, or D, depending upon type. My 'B foot' Boehm System flute goes down to B below middle C, which is not as commonplace as the more usual 'C foot' models.

I'd be inclined to suggest the Clarinet as a more likely possibility. Depending upon type, that could go down to E below Middle C (written), 'extended' models even lower.

Bear in mind that a clarinet is usually a 'transposing' instrument - the usual key is Bb, meaning that a C on the MS would come out of the instrument as Bb, if you follow?

This means that a clarinet playing along with a flute would have the music in a different key - for example, if the flute's music was in C, the Bb clarinet's music would be in D for them both to sound in the same pitch.


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: Bernard
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 06:22 AM

Having just re-read the opening post, I would disagree with dismissing the fiddle, which goes down to G below Middle C in standard GDAE tuning.


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: Chris Partington
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 07:08 AM

Hi again, thanks for the replies, all of which have been helpful in some way so far.

It is now evident to me that flute is impossible as it doesn't go down low enough.

I had questioned fiddle, as there are Secundo parts to this MS which utilise the normal fiddle range, from below middle C up to (in abc), whereas the is absent from this Primo instrument.

The notes above
are such as to require, in these tunes, a shift of position rather than a thrown pinkie. This is an ability from classical technique which is otherwise under-utilised in the MS, but it is not impossible for it to be fiddle with a bit of extended technique, and that might be the conclusion.

The compass seems, from the Dolmetsch site, to be similar to the trumpet or cornet, though the actual notes don't quite match.

The Oboe doesn't go down far enough, but the clarinet seems to be capable of going both much higher and much lower.

BTW, all the parts are in the same key, so there is no transposing going on.


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 07:25 AM

Is there any chance of letting us know what MS you are talking about?


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 08:16 AM

I'd like to know too -


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: Chris Partington
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 08:20 AM

Which MS? All in good time, my dears...


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: GUEST,Gordon Tyrrall
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 11:04 AM

You can often tell from the actual music what the intended instrument was - not always though - I've been involved in playing and recording the music of Joshua Jackson,(late 18th century) and we still dont really know what instrument he played. But that's an aside - I'm posting just to say thanks to Jack Campin for his very interesting website and collection of old scottish tunes for the flute - excellent.I notice, in fact, that some of the tunes there are in Jackson - like Jack Lattin.


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 11:41 AM

The range sounds perfectly standard to me for a fiddle MS of the period. Loads of them have tunes that go up to D above the stave, very common. And, as has been pointed out, too low for a flute.


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 11:50 AM

ChrisP: your post of 7.08AM has some musical notes missing which makes it ambiguous. Could you remedy? This is very interesting. The clarinet is of course a possibility, it has a huge range and a chromatic ability.


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 11:53 AM

Last year I attended a workshop where we played Scottish music from this era. We had photocopies of the original music, and they would say something like "Suitable for pianoforte, harpsichord, flute, violin, harp...." and however many other instruments they could think of.

The idea was, quite naturally, to suit the music to as many instruments as possible in order to sell as many copies of the book as possible.

Makes sense, both in terms of profitability for the publisher and fun for the purchasers.


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 12:03 PM

The web page linked by Guest Date: 04 Nov 09 - 06:09 AM gives the "standard" answer, but for at least one instrument the information is incorrect.

The chart shows a 2 1/2 octave range for saxophones.

Any saxophone is easily capable of playing a range of four full octaves.

The "myth" of the 2 1/2 octave range is because very few saxophone players have been taught (or have learned) anything beyond that.

The ranges shown for stringed-bowed instruments is the range obtainable when the strings are pressed against the fingerboard. Most violinists know, usually vaguely, about the possibility of playing "harmonics" by touching the string without contact with the fingerboard, and some use is made of this technique to play notes "above the range" of the instrument. A fair amount of "classical" music has been scored to require some use of the technique - so "fiddle music" might show notes beyond the "normal" range of the intended instrument.

The site linked is also somewhat incomplete regarding the real capabilities of the French Horn, although it does give some excellent historical comment that's not generally known. In its modern form, the "fundamental" - the lowest tone that the instrument can produce - is a bit below the bottom note for a sousaphone; but few players can actually produce that tone, and the "keys" are set up to begin at, IIRC, about the third or fourth octave "harmonic" of the fundamental pitch. The "top note" playable depends largely on the skill (and physical limits) of the player, but the instrument is commonly claimed (but only by French Horn players) to have the longest playable range of any common instrument. (But few of the players who make the brag can themselves play much of the range claimed.)

John


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 01:03 PM

Last year I attended a workshop where we played Scottish music from this era. We had photocopies of the original music, and they would say something like "Suitable for pianoforte, harpsichord, flute, violin, harp...." and however many other instruments they could think of.

The idea was, quite naturally, to suit the music to as many instruments as possible in order to sell as many copies of the book as possible.


That's true for some collections, but should rarely be taken literally. What you will often find on those collections is that the first instrument listed is the one the editor really had in mind and the others are an afterthought - the title page really does reflect the content. Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion is a good example - the first volume lists the flute first, and sure enough the range of the tunes mostly suits it - and for some tunes where the range could fit the fiddle as well, there are also passages that would require horrendous string-crossings while they're easy on the flute. The last volumes move the fiddle into a more prominent place on the title page, and the tunes reflect that.

(The flute stuff on my site is quite specifically for the flute and no doubt about it).

There are a few oddities in this area. The smallpipes seem to have been played by the same class of gentleman players who bought posh tunebooks. But they're never named as an option. And fiddle technique or pedagogy seems to have changed. High D's were never all that common, but flat keys used to be far more prevalent than they are now. In particular there were a lot of tunes in G minor in sources like the Playford collections, so they can't have been seen as difficult. Not many beginner session players have G minor tunes in their repertoire now.

I have an 1800-ish clarinet tutor on my website so you can see what was expected of that. Johnny Dodds they weren't.


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Subject: RE: Range of old flute?
From: Chris Partington
Date: 04 Nov 09 - 01:23 PM

I said:-"I had questioned fiddle, as there are Secundo parts to this MS which utilise the normal fiddle range, from below middle C up to (in abc), whereas the is absent from this Primo instrument."

!I don't know what happened there. Sopmething ate some bits of it. It was meant to say "...from _G,_ below middle C up to _a_ on the first string (_G,_ to _a_ in abc), whereas the _G,_ is absent..."

Greg, from my time with the VMP tunes I would say that top _b_ happens occasionally in fiddle MSs, but _c'_ is rarer and _d'_ is very rare. Once c' and d' start appearing I look for the other evidences of classical technique, e.g. why stop at _d'_? How much else of the tune can be got from 3rd pos.?

I think I just worked out what I did wrong; I must have enclosed the notes in wedgy things instead of underscores.


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