In this section of the document, we actually get around to answering the question!
Originally the baroque flute was a conical bore instrument in the key of D, with six rather small finger-holes and one key (E-flat). All other notes in the chromatic scale were produced somewhat imperfectly by cross-fingerings. During the late 18th and early 19th century it was discovered that the rather weak tone of the baroque flute could be improved by making the holes larger. However, this also resulted in making the cross-fingerings even more out of tune than they were before. So keys were added for the chromatic notes. The end result of this evolution was the 19th century 8-key wooden flute for which composers such as Beethoven wrote.
The classical flute emerged gradually, almost imperceptibly, out of the baroque flutethis is a modern distinctionjust as the classical style of music was a gradual development from the baroque style. Indeed, the traverso's development was a reflection of the changing musical styles of the eighteenth century. As the thicker, contrapuntal textures of the baroque orchestra were transformed into the lighter, more transparent textures of the classical orchestra, so the darker sounds of the baroque flute turned into the lighter, brighter sounds of the classical flute. The higher pitches, higher tessitura, and greater flexibility of the classical orchestra were mirrored in the higher pitches, tessitura, and flexibility of the classical flute.
... The term 'classical flute' does not always mean an instrument with multiple keys. One-keyed classical flutes continued to be made and played throughout the entire eighteenth century and well into the nineteenth. Mozart's Flute Concertos in D and G (1778) were very probably written for the one-keyed flute; indeed, they lie very beautifully in the fingers of any skilled performer who plays them on the one-keyed classical flute.
The Early Flute
Oxford University Press, 1992
While we can never know what flautists of the baroque and classical eras really sounded like, we can read contemporary descriptions of the sound. Quantz (1752) described his ideal flute sound as 'that which more nearly resembles a contralto than a soprano, or which imitates the chest tones of the human voice a clear, penetrating, thick, round, masculine and withal pleasant sound'. Antoine Mahaut (1759) wrote that 'the embouchure is correct when the tone is full, round and clear. It is beautiful when, in addition, the tone is soft, delicate, resonant and graceful'.
Ibid., pp. 131-132
Around 1850 the key system was totally revamped by Theobald Böhm who designed a cylindrical bore instrument with a conical head joint. (To be more accurate, the head joint was a parabolic section.) The Böhm flute came to be made of metal (not what Böhm himself preferred) resulting in the modern orchestral flute, which is pretty loud and reasonably in tune, but was frequently criticized for having a bland tone. To counter these criticisms, classical flute players, beginning in France around 1890, started adding a wobble to their sound (technically known as "vibrato").
The silver flute is preferable for playing in very large rooms because of its great ability for tone modulation, and for the unsurpassed brilliancy and sonorousness of its tone. But on account of its unusually easy tone-production, very often it is over-blown, causing the tone to become hard and shrill; hence its advantages are fully realized only through a very good embouchure and diligent tone-practice. For this reason wooden flutes on my system are also made, which are better adapted to the embouchures of most flute players; and the wood flutes possess a full and pleasant quality of tone, which is valued especially in Germany.
Theobald Böhm (trans. Dayton Miller)
The Flute and Flute-Playing
Dover, New York, 1964
Böhm eliminated cross-fingerings by putting a hole for every note of the chromatic scale, sited at the optimal location on the tube, and making these holes very large. Of course, both the size and location of the holes were unsuited to being reached by the player's fingers. Instead, keys were placed in a comfortable location and connected to pads covering the holes by an axle mechanism. The mechanism was also used to solve the problem that with only 10 fingers we could not close all eleven holes required, not to mention holding the instrument at the same time. Extra keys were also added to facilitate certain awkward finger changes.
Once again, the changes in the instruments was the result of changing musical requirements. In the Baroque and classical periods, there was a concept of varying weakness and strength. This affected things like keyboard fingering, violin bowing, and so on. In the Romantic period of the 19th century, the concept emerged that everything in music should be the same: all fingers should be equally strong when playing the piano (hence a new fingering system was invented), upbows should be as strong as downbows (hence a new kind of violin bow was invented), and all keys should be equally easy to play in (hence modifications to wind instruments such as Böhm's).
Baroque woodwinds differ externally from modern instruments mainly in the smaller number of keys and in the fact that they are usually constructed of light brown boxwood. The taper of their internal bore is also different. These differences result in a completely different playing technique. Of the seven or eight holes, six are closed with the fingers, the others with keys. In theory, only a diatonic scale can be played on such an instrument, the basic scale of the instrument in question, which is at the same time its best key. One can also play in most other keys, but only by resorting to complicated "cross fingerings" with which all tones other than the basic scale have to be fingered. These tones sound quite different from those played with "open" fingering; they have a more veiled, indirect sound. Thus, in every key and every interval there is a constant interplay between covered and open sounds. This not only gives each of the different keys a characteristic quality, but also lends an iridescent brightness to the sound as a whole. This kind of tonal irregularity was not considered undesirable at that time. Not until the 19th century was a conscious effort made to achieve a completely regular "chromatic" scale, or more precisely, a scale of twelve half-steps.
Baroque Music Today: Music as Speech
Amadeus Press, 1995
B minor is a wonderfully light and brilliant key on the Baroque transverse flute, while C minor sounds dull and is extremely difficult to play. The listener was familiar with these facts, and mastery of difficult keys was considered one aspect of virtuosity. Moreover, the difficulty of remote keys, which could be heard in the tone color (due to cross fingerings) was part of the music's affective content. On the modern Böhm flute, C minor sounds just as good as B minor. The flute figures in the soprano aria "Zerfliesse mein Herze in Fluten der Zähren" from the St. John Passion are extraordinarily difficult and multicolored, since in F minor cross-fingering is needed for almost every combination of tones. This corresponds perfectly to the desperate emotion of the aria. On a Böhm flute, the figures sparkle as if they had been written in the easiest and brightest key; here too, the idea behind the instrumentation cannot be realized. I could cite many other such examples.
Ibid., p. 88
In 1707 the French flautist Jacques Hotteterre published his Principes de la Flute Traversiere (Paris, Ballard), a basic work on the the technique and instrumental style of his time. In conjunction with flute fingering Hotteterre pointed to the necessity of correcting notes by turning the mouth-hole inwards and outwards. He also noted how one could distinguish between certain enharmonic notes:
|f sharp'||1 2 3 4 7||g flat'||1 2 3 5 6|
|f sharp''||1 2 3 4 7||g flat''||1 2 3 5 6 7|
|c sharp'''||4 5 6 7||d flat'''||2 3 4 6 7|
In these three cases the notes with a flat are higher than their enharmonic equivalents with a sharp. This proves that Hotteterre wished to imitate flexible instruments and the voice and not inflexible ones such as keyboard instruments, lutes and gambas. The latter made use of temperament or selection, basing their intervals on compromises, in order to have only 12 notes to the octave, whereas the former were guided by the pureness of the thirds in all keys. This attitude is part of an aural refinement which seems strange to modern musicans who have grown up with the theoretical traditions of the nineteenth century. Berlioz and the Romantics who came after him wanted an f sharp to be played higher than a g flat in order to emphasize the pull of the leading note to the tonic. In this way they gave string and wind instruments and the voice greater freedom with regard to playing in tune, which was justified by melodic expression. Such modern freedom is in direct contrast to the older view of chromaticism from the time before the advent of equal temperament. In order nowadays to understand the quality of the intervals in early music, one must first of all forget the tension characteristic of Romantic music.
translated from the German by Alfred Clayton
Amadeus Press, Portland, Oregon, 1988
Needless to say, the Böhm flute was designed for equal temperament.
Of course, once the Böhm flute became available, composers began writing for its particular capabilities. It is difficult, for example, to imagine the famous chromatic scale that begins Debussy's Prélude à l'Après-Midi d'un Faune played on any other type of flute.
The varying colors and dark tone of the Hotteterre flute are exactly right for French music prior to 1700, but are not at all suitable for German music around 1900, while the reverse is true for the even and metallic sound of the Böhm flute.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, op. cit., p. 75
In general, it was composers who preferred the new design rather than players. The Böhm flute allowed for the relentless modulation and chromaticism beloved of the Romantic composer. The performer's attitude is typified by the following letter which appeared in the English publication The Musical World in 1843.
Permit an old amateur flutist to have a say respecting the flautomania attempted to be introduced for French flutes. I wish to caution my brother amateurs to pause before they purchase. I complain of these professors and flute makers telling us amateurs that all our old flutes are good for nothing; they have just discovered this, and wonder at our ignorance so long on the subject. I have bought various expensive instruments of one of our best makers, and always had them warranted perfect; as they have all along been working in the dark, they ought, now they have got illuminated on the mystery of flute perfecting, to return me my money, and take back my old flutes: but no, they say old ones are of no use now to them; buy a Boehm, price only sixteen (or more) guineas, and then how the tone will come out!! I, as an Englishman, think in our own home-made flutes, since Nicholson's time, a national instrument, we have equalled, and perhaps excelled, all foreigners on this instrument; we have men who yet can play a little on the wretched old flute I calculate, therefore, my brother amateurs, hold hard a while until these new lights shine better in their playing and extinguish our old ones, or till our orchestra players adopt them. Nicholson has written, "it is not in the size or make of the finger holes that playing in tune and good tone depends, but in the management of the mouth hole or embouchure; a good player can make a note a quarter of a tone sharper or flatter, weaker or stronger, at pleasure; it is not the flute that is at fault, but the man who sits behind it; in conclusion, I again warn my brother amateurs against hastily changing their flutes as many I know have done, and eventually could not play upon either, between the two stools, or tools, they have got floored.
OLD HOWLING STICK
History of the Boehm Flute
New York, 1892, reprinted 1961
Another change that occurred in the 19th century was that music was not longer performed for a small, wealthy, aristocratic audience in a small room. Instead, it was performed in large concert halls for a ticket-buying public. The larger the hall, the most tickets could be sold. Since amplification had not been invented, the push was on for louder instruments and larger orchestras. Pianos became larger and larger. Violins were all rebuilt to increase their volume at the expense of the tone. (Since Stradivarius instruments reacted better to being rebuilt, it was at this period that they came to be regarded as the ultimate instrument. During the Baroque period, Stainer was considered the greatest violin-maker. Supposedly among the 500 or so existing Stradivarius violins, only one still exists in original form.) Another result of this trend was the preference for the higher end of the range of each instrument. Cellos began playing in the range formerly used by violins. Violins moved up into a range higher than had ever been used before.
In the flute world, the result of this trend was the increasing use of the 3rd octave. A modern classical player hardly does anything else. (In order to get still higher, the piccolo came into more common use.) This also caused difficulty with the old flutes, since not all the notes in the chromatic scale could be played in the third octave.
It was always Mr. Boehm's hope that the tone qualities and possibilities of the flute could be realized as part of the orchestral forces. He maintained that the first two octaves contain the true and natural qualities of the instrument. The third octave is always unsatisfactory; it is seldom that a player who has a fine quality of tone in the third octave, has an equally excellent lower tone, and conversely. Therefore it was Mr. Boehm's wish to create an orchestral set of flutes, composed of flutes in G, in C, and in F, each designed to have a compass of two octaves of the ideal tone quality. But as this would increase the number of flute players in the orchestra there is hardly any possibility of its realization; not that it is impossible but because there is a general indifference to the question. [Note. 1]
It is evident from the character of the music at present available for the flute, that very little of it is composed with a full comprehension of the character of the instrument. The prevailing music is nearly all of a florid nature, quite foreign to the acoustical quality of the flute. There is no question that the third octave is false and thin as compared with the lower ones, and, in fact, these lower octaves are purposely injured in order to develop the third or artificial octave The proof of this fact is found in the irregular fingering that must be used to produce the third octave. The elimination of the effort to produce three full octaves of tones would permit the development of the full, rich tone of the two lower octaves which give the qualities that tend to make the flute the beautiful instrument that it is.
Theobald BoehmAn appreciation (1900)
Theobald Böhm (trans. Dayton Miller)
The Flute and Flute-Playing
Dover, New York, 1964
The Irish flute ... finally!
When the change to the Böhm flute came, all the old wooden flutes began to show up in pawn shops for low prices, where the Irish began to buy them. (In fact, it's a question whether the flute was used much at all in Irish music before this, more than the oboe, for example. [Note 2]) For Irish music you don't really need all the chromatic notes. Also, the extra holes bored in the tube for the keyed notes tend to harm the tone. So flutes made nowadays for Irish music generally follow the pattern of the 19th century wooden flutes with large holes, except that the instruments have only a few keys, or none at all. The resulting instrument, not quite a baroque flute and not quite a 19th century classical flute, is often called an "Irish flute". Since all those pawn shop instruments are now long gone, and commonly available flutes are all of the Böhm type, a small number of flutemakers, such as Terry McGee (quoted as an internet guru), have started supplying high-quality flutes of the Irish type.
Since Irish music in the 19th century was usually played in the home, where there was no need for extreme loudness, the harsh and shrill notes of the third octave were never used. [Note 3] Today, when Irish music is frequently performed in large halls, the invention of amplification has removed the need for any change in performance style from the old home style.
There was a period in the 1950s and 1960s, when the Irish music revival was beginning, when no wooden flutes were available at all. So a certain number of people began using the Böhm flute for Irish music. But in general the wooden "Irish" flute is the preferred instrument.
The great wealth of beautiful German songs of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn and others are almost inexhaustible sources of studies for the formation of a correct interpretation and a good style.
From the words of the poems of the popular songs of other nations, such as Scottish, Irish, Swedish and Slavish, one may also learn a good interpretation.
Theobald Böhm, op. cit., pp. 152-153
The inspiration for Böhm's modifications to his flute design came after a concert tour in England, which received good reviews but left him unsatisfied with his instrument. In particular he was impressed by the playing of the English virtuoso Nicholson, whose forceful playing set the pattern for English classical flutists for the next 100 years (nowadays the FrancoAmerican "international" style has more or less replaced the traditional English classical style). The Nicholson style is still preserved, however, in traditional Irish flute-playing.
There is another style of music in which old wooden flutes are preferred, which is Latin-American music. But they go for a totally different model of flute, since they mostly play in the third octave, which isn't used at all in Irish music. This is because the flute has to be heard over a fairly large ensemble of other instruments in Latin music. Therefore, Latin and Irish musicians covet entirely different types of old flutes.
Irish flute playing has a number of characteristics of style which result in a sound quality much different than is usually taught in modern classical circles. This unique sound is sometimes attributed to the use of wooden instead of metal instruments, or, by the more knowledgable, to the conical bore. However, much of this sound is in reality due to the technique of playing the instrument. This can be clearly seen by contrasting the playing of, for example, James Galway, with that of Joannie Madden of the group Cherish the Ladies. Both use a modern Böhm flute. Madden sounds like a traditional Irish player; Galway does not.
As has been mentioned, the Irish style has been influenced by the English classical school of the early 19th century. Other influences probably come largely from the piping tradition. The characteristics of this style include the absence of tongueing (note articulation being produced by the use of grace notes as in piping), the use of a strong attack in the lower register, the use of typical traditional ornaments such as long and short rolls, double-cut rolls and crans, the absence of breath vibrato as taught in 20th century classical style, and the use, as an ornament only, of flattement or finger vibrato. Playing is always legato and makes little use of volume change except as a rhythmic device. The exaggerated staccato of the classical flautist is not used, and crescendo and rubato are avoided in favour of clarity of the melodic line. In place of the strident, harsh tone used by the classical flautist, the Irish flute-player aims at a full, rich, mellow sound.
An interesting question is raised in an article by the noted Irish fluter Desi Wilkinson, published in The Companion to Irish Traditional Music . He raises the possibility that there may have been flutes in Ireland at a much earlier date than generally thought. We start with a good summary of the conventional viewpoint, summarized by the well-known Irish flute-maker Hammy Hamilton.
The flute, as played in Irish traditional music, is an import with a relatively short history in this country. Fragments of flutes and whistles dating to the eleventh century have been excavated in Dublin, Cork and Waterford and sycamore fipple flutes have been recorded as being made by children in Antrim. There appears to have been no tradition of transverse flute making or playing in Ireland before the eighteenth century when the flute first began to appear in the hands of wealthy amateurs. During the eighteenth and much of the nineteenth centuries, the flute was an immensely popular instrument throughout Europe, and huge numbers of instruments were manufactured on the continent and in London. Although there are indications that it was already being played in traditional music by the late eighteenth century, it was not until the nineteenth that it became more widespread, and only quite late in that century did it become common. The flute was rarely if ever used by the professional players for accompanying dance.
Initially the cost of imported instruments would have dictated that only the more affluent amateurs could afford them, but this situation changed as the nineteenth century progressed. Firstly, a significant upturn in the economic conditions in Ireland from the middle of the century meant that more people were able to acquire instruments; secondly, and coincidentally, musical instruments of many types, including flutes, began to be mass produced around this time, rendering flutes available at a reasonable cost to a population with more money to spend.
One of the imponderables in the history of the flute in Ireland is its strong association with certain parts of the country. Although it was, and is, played in every county, it has a very strong heartland in the mid-western counties of Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon, with South Fermanagh, East Galway, Clare and West Limerick also having a reputation. Now present in the tradition for over 200 years, the flute never achieved the same level of prestige as the pipes or fiddle, and this is reflected in the comparatively low number of recordings by flute players.
Since the beginning of the revival in the early 1950s, and in particular over the last twenty years, the flute has enjoyed somewhat of a surge in its reputation and popularity, and is now an immensely popular instrument throughout the country. This of course can in part be attributed to the effect of the recordings of viruoso players such as Matt Molloy, Séamus Tansey, etc., but the rise of flute-making in Ireland is undoubtedly the major factor.
Colin "Hammy" Hamilton, in
Fintan Vallely, ed.
The Companion to Irish Traditional Music
New York University Press, 1999
One reason that the availability of modern instruments patterned on 19th century models is important to the increased use of the flute in Irish music is that many of the old Nicholson-era flutes were designed to play at the concert pitch used in 19th century England, which could be as high as A=455. Although the tone of these instruments was much admired, it would be difficult play them along with fixed pitch instruments such as concertinas which were tuned to the modern standard of A=440. Although such flutes can be tuned lower, since most of them were equipped with a tuning slide, both tone and intonation suffer when this is done. A modern instrument built for A=440 is easier to play in tune and has better tone.
It is reasonably certain that fluteswhether side-blown or front-blown fipple whistleshave been a feature in rural Ireland for a considerable number of years. But they do not however feature significantly in any reference to travelling, professional performers in the last two centuries. This suggests that their status was unremarkable, or simply low, probably because of the sheer number of people involved in playing them. In an area of relative poverty, but with a vigorous culture such as that in the west of Ireland before the famine, one could deduce that a simply constructed instrument such as the 'bourtry' flute might be common currency among the people. Writing about the latter half of the nineteenth century, Francis O'Neill said of it on 1913: 'No one but a born musician, or one who had no other outlet for his musical instinct, was likely to learn to play the flute. The lame and blind, driven to the practice of music as a profession, invariably chose the union pipes or the fiddle as the most available instrument to touch the sensibilities of the people'. He added that fluters 'seldom took to the road, and that only "conspicuous excellence" would get them any notice'. The flute player had low status in a low-status profession.
But the flute's status did rise in the area in modern times. To understand its former low status however, it is useful to consider some of the more primitive flutes that are remembered. Both Josie McDermott and John Blessing could recall flutes made out of 'bourtry' (elder) and 'fuarawn' (hogweedsimilar in growth structure to bamboo). According to them, this was a hit and miss operation: 'a bit of a gimmick to see if they would come right'. These were made by the older people and given to children as toys in order to encourage discovery of the rudiments of music-making (similar introductory practices are observed in other cultures also).
... It would be blown like a flute or a fife. That was the fuarawn. ... In the fields if you were out and there was a crowd at the hay, you'd be nearly bound to come across one flute player that could play a bit, so of course if you came across a suitable fuarawn, there'd be a flute made for him and that'd be it.
In living memory the bourtry flutes and fuarawn whistles respectively were sometimes modelled on the newly procured Clarke whistles pitched in C and the small flutes pitched in B or Bb. The suggestion that these types of primitive flutes made of native material were used to play dance music even before the eighteenth century cannot be dismissed, and this is of importance when looking at the development of a local aesthetic of flute-playing in Sligo, Roscommon and Leitrim. ...
Bourtry flutes are made by reaming out the soft pith from a suitable length of elder wood with, for example, a knitting needle. The final result is a thin flute about ten inches long. If the spacing of the six holes is modelled on a standard tin whistle, and if soaked in water for a considerable period, it will sound a pleasing breathy and reedy note. This is the type of tone favoured by whistle player Jim Donoghue, and significantly he was regarded as a master musician by many Sligo players. He in fact used to adjust the wooden-fipple, Clarke C-whistle with a heated hacksaw blade in order to facilitate the production of a powerful reedy sound which he played in only one octave. ... Also related to a history of bourtry flutes in the common local practice of soaking timber concert flutes in water. While this is damaging to the wood, nevertheless by sealing any micro-cracks or leaks, the practice makes a flute easier to 'fill', and is the'traditional method' of maintaining an instrument in good playing order. Further, flute players in the early years of revival eschewed the use of keys, even their presence was considered superfluous and it was common to see the key-holes bound up with tape: the aesthetic was to have a crude, keyless instrument, evocative of the bourtry flute. It is only in the last twenty years that there has been somewhat of 'technical renaissance', and in that time it has become prestigious to have a fully-keyed instrument and to use all the keys. This is the technical equivalent of 'shifting to the bridge' or using a chin rest in fiddle playing.
Desi Wilkinson, in
Fintan Vallely, ed.
The Companion to Irish Traditional Music
New York University Press, 1999
Although a one-octave range is not sufficient for Irish music as played today, there is a significant repertoire in Donegal coming from the píob mór (similar to Scottish highland pipes), which could be played on such an instrument. Such tunes are often played by two fiddles in octaves in the Donegal style. It's not improbable to imagine that such tunes were once common in the neighbouring counties to the east and south such as Fermanagh, Sligo and Leitrim.
As I mentioned earlier, the Renaissance flute is frequently found pictured in military situations during the 16th century. These same pictures also frequently show Irish mercenary soldiers. It is quite possible that some of these soldiers may have brought back flutes that were copied by local artisans.
The flute may go back even further in Ireland. The medieval flute was not particularly popular in England, but it was attested on the Iberian peninsula, and it is known that many Irish travelled to the popular religous pilgrimage sites of modern Spain and Portugal. In part this may be because Irish mythology states that the Milesians, the current inhabitants of Ireland, came originally from Spain.
The Irish, then, had opportunities to encounter flutes at quite an early date. They also had an existing tradition of making fipple flutes (whistles), mostly for children. Crude side-blown flutes may have been made in the same way, based on continental models.
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Internet flute guru discussion The Internet flute gurus discuss whether Irish music can be played on the Baroque flute, and related topics.
Boehm, Nicholson and the English flute style. In case you just missed it up above, read how Boehm was inspired by the unique English flute style still preserved in Irish traditional playing today.
Flute vibrato. Was classical flute always played with the kind of constant vibrato usually heard today? And if not, how did it start?
Note that Böhm's concept was quite similar to what Saxe did with the saxophone family. Saxophones basically have only a two octave range, which has caused some in the "art music" crowd to argue that they should not be considered as "serious instruments" (as though players such as Charlie Parker or composers like Duke Ellington should be considered lightweights, I suppose). Of course, saxophones have never really been accepted into the orchestra, although they form the heart of the jazz big band, where they are the equivalent of the orchestral string section. "Serious" saxophonists seem to respond by working at playing harmonics, rather than questioning the assumption that in order to be a "serious" musician you have to be able to play a tenor sax in the range of a soprano sax (rather than getting a different sax to play those pitches).
The difficulty in producing a workable bass instrument of the flute type prevents flutes from forming a complete family as can be done with saxophones, which exist in sizes from bass to soprano. (There may be contrabass and sopranino saxes too, but they are very rare.) The range of the bass recorder, for example, goes only down to the F below middle C, approximately the same as the modern alto flute. And both these are fairly quiet instruments. (There do exist larger, lower recorders than this, although they are rare, and too quiet for modern tastes.) I think the reason for this is the limitation of our lung power in causing large volumes of air to vibrate, since an organ pipe can certainly produce low frequencies using a mechanical air supply.
Personally, I'm sure they would have loved to have had saxophones in the Renaissance! The tone colour fits right in with shawms and other loud instruments that they liked then. But without Böhm's pad, key and axle system, there was no way to close fingerholes of the size needed for a sax. [Back]
The reason to bring up oboes is that some 18th century collections of Irish tunes specify that they can be played on the violin, German flute (i.e., transverse flute, as opposed to the "English flute", which is a recorder), or oboe. The publisher was obviously trying to maximize his target audience. While I don't know of any records of oboes being used in Ireland, they were sometimes used in Scotland. This would have been a Baroque oboe, of course. Modern oboes have been redesigned to be a lot louder. During the Middle Ages, folk instruments of oboe type were used in both Scotland and Ireland. [Back]
Fifes were often used in Ireland by marching bands (not just by Ulster
Unionists!), a situation where more volume and high pitch might be useful.
Marching bands of this type have mostly gone out of fashion in this century
(except again for the Unionists). [Back]
Brad Hurley's A Guide to the Irish Flute is an excellent source of information.
Gordon Turnbull's The Flow site contains interesting information about the different regional styles of Irish flute playing.
The home page of Larry Krantz has the FAQ from the FLUTE list, which is mostly about the modern "classical" flute, but contains some historical information as well.
This FAQ or something very like it also appears at another site.
Larry Owen's www.woodenflute.com site, now revised and improved.
The World of Flutes site has many articles, mostly in reference to the Böhm flute, but some interesting ones include 19th century performance practice and the conical bore Böhm flute. Sample: The first flute in the premiere of Parsival in 1882 was Rudolf Tillmetz, who was playing a cylindrical Boehm flute (in spite of constant criticism from his colleagues). Wagner did not like it, saying something to the effect "that's not a flute, that's a cannon".
How does 19th C. Performance Practice differ from that of today? (from the flute FAQ site)
Rob Greenway’s Irish Flute Pages has a lot of useful information for the aspiring Irish fluter, including advice on vibrato.
Hammie Hamilton, Irish flutemaker, is also the author of the highly respected book The Irish Fluteplayer's Handbook.
Terry McGee of Canberra, Australia, (I own one of his flutes) has an informative website.
Association of the Celtic Flute
The Care And Feeding Of The Irish Flute by Mickie Zekley (Lark in the Morning).
The Chris Wilkes Flute Page. The waiting list for a flute is now six years.
The Flute Interviews with various Irish fluters.
Biography and profile of Matt Molloy, well-known Irish fluter and member of the Chieftains.
Biography and profile of Michael Tubridy, another well-known Irish fluter and former member of the Chieftains.
The Flutes Are Fun! site has an interesting collection of links.
Flute history articles and reference tools from Folkers & Powell. Tour of a flute-maker's workshop and searchable database of 18th century flutes.
Gemeinhardt Co.'s History of the Flute.
Musica Antiqua's Transverse Flute page (Renaissance flute).
Xorys: My Historical Flutes has many pictures and discussions of historical flutes.
Steven's Flute Page has a large collection of flute-related links.
Flute Research Guide from the Indiana University School of Music.
Neanderthal flutes discovered in a dwelling site dating to 85000 BC.
Flutes in the Great Leap There has been at least a dozen flutes found between the time period of 28,000 to 22,000 years ago.
Neolithic flutes dating to 9000 BC discovered in China. One is still playable (site has sound sample).
Go to the traditional music instruments index page.
Go to music encyclopedia directory
Go to The Standing Stones
Go to the Standing Stones Site Map (listing of the entire contents of this website)
Background on this page from Xorys historical flute website.
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