Category Archives: Articles

History Of Pitch On Flute

While surfing tonight, I came across this site which has some very interesting information about how pitch centers have changed throughout the years. I notice now that most flutes are A=442, and I just bought an old Haynes that is most likely A=440. I think my Yamaha flute is A=442.It’s an interesting website, and perhaps someone knows some other good ones.

Using a Different Headjoint

I’ve noticed that a lot of guys who are not “flutists”, ie: they play flute but it’s not their main instrument, use different headjoints to get better sounds. For example, I believe both Guido Fazio and Larry DeLaCruz are using Yamaha student model flutes (plated body, closed hole) with Sankyo headjoints. I haven’t ventured into this area yet, as I’m still using my Yamaha 581 with the CY (I think) headjoint. Though, anyone have any opinions on different headjoints?

Software For Flute Practicing

In the latest issue of The Flutist which I receive as being a member of the National Flute Association, there was an article about software for use in practicing and teaching. Here is a brief summary of it and some additions of my own.

The article, written by Joseph Manupello, is interesting, but has a number of errors. Lets start where he starts, with software Metronomes.

He mentions a program called Metronome 2.5 by Nick Baciu. I haven’t been able to find that program, but I did find a great Metronome/Tuner called Enable Tune 2.6 for windows that, for $19.95, does a good job at tuning and keeping time. For Mac people, there are a couple of Metronome programs. And there are programs out there for the Palm as well. I however think if you are going to practice, get a real metronome. Like the Boss Doctor Beat 66 which is great because it’s LOUD, accents downbeats, and does odd meters.

Mr. Manupello’s next section is on tuners, mainly the AP Instrument Tuner 1.02. It’s an interesting product, and there are similar products available for Windows and Macintosh. Cool, but…..why? Pitch is important, but…..this is insane. He even mentions that one of the things he likes about AP Tuner is that you can run two instances of the program (assuming you have 2 sound cards). Why? Personally, I’m amazed at the $30 digital tuners you can get. The keep getting smaller, and faster. My recommendation, get a Seiko or similar tuner. Makes sense, especially if you plan to play somewhere, like a GIG, where you won’t have your computer around.

Finally, Joseph Manupello gets down to business with taking about Spectrogram. Now, this program is very interesting. You can see visualizations of what you sound like. Compare it with other peoples’. Neat, but….thats about it. I don’t think I’d really use it.

Finally, Joseph Manupello ends with talking about Cool Edit. Cool edit allows you to record, edit, etc, etc yourself and your music. There are other programs as well that can do this, such as Soundforge (which I highly recommend) for the PC, and for the Macintosh, I wholeheartly recommend Sound Studio and Amadeus. Both are inexpensive and excellent programs.

The computer is a great tool, but I’ve found that it is best for recording, and composing/edit/printing music. I’ve found that owning a metronome and a tuner is invaluable. You can take them with you, whereever your playing takes you.

Flutes for Jazz?

suz writes “I have just embarked on the long slow boat to the land of a new flute. I’ve tried several this week; next week it’ll be several more I imagine. A used flute dealer and I had this rather thorough conversation about my playing ability, style and interests, and then he produced three lovely old French-made instruments for me to try. They were good flutes, but the wrong type of sound, I thought (I guess he and I were on different wavelengths). Frank Zappa mentioned that flutists and harpers have a bad look on their faces because of all this cloud and angel music they have to play. I am not playing cloud and angel music, though those French flutes would have been good for that.So my inquiry: I want EVERYONE’s opinion about brands, features, tone, and any other aspect of the instruments themselves as pertains to jazz. Thanks in advance!”

Ok, well, where to start. It really doesn’t matter what type of flute you get. It could be Yamaha, Geminhardt, Powell, etc, etc. What is important is the tonal qualities your seeking. Are you seeking a bright tone? Or a darker tone? Then you’d choose a flute that has those qualities in addition to good sturdy keywork, excellent intonation, etc, etc. It really doesn’t matter too much WHAT you play on as long as you like it.Personally, I like my Yamaha 581, though sometimes I wish for a darker, rounder tone. I’m afraid to try a Haynes or Powell or something because then I’d KNOW for sure that the Yamaha I have is not as good. Don’t get me wrong, I like my flute a lot. We have about 30 different stage shows that we’ve done together, along with some recording sessions, etc. It’s dependable, and durable. I just wish it was a little more flexiable.Some day I’ll get a Haynes or a Powell, but I doubt I’d part with the Yamaha.

Sound Quality and the Shrinking Pit

I play in pit orchestras sometimes. And this article was interesting. It’s very true that orchestra sizes seem to be diminishing. Last couple of shows I’ve done have been “abridged” versions, where we have 2-3 reeds (out of 5), 1-2 strings, 2-3 brass, and rhythmn section. Most of the other stuff, if it’s being covered (usually doesn’t get covered), is done with Synths….

Regardless, the author makes some valid points about sound quality.

Perfect Pitch Museum

Do you have perfect pitch? Can you listen to the howl of the wind, and say that it was blowing in D? Or that a two-tone clock strikes in B minor? This site explores the complexities of perfect pitch, which can be tricky, as there is relative pitch, perfect pitch, and absolute pitch. While some feel that it is an inherited gift, frequently encountered in the blind, others argue that it can be learned. There is a reference to the abilities of the young Mozart, which is to be expected, and a story about Ravel, who lost the ability to express his music, although it was still ‘in his head’. Some features, such as the historical fluctuation of concert A would be of more interest to musicians, but the examples in the section ‘Amazing Feats of the Ear’ would engage everyone else. The ‘Definitions for the Musically Disinclined’ is very helpful in this regard.

I personally believe that you can learn perfect pitch.