Traditional flutes of today Beauty of wood
Principles and realities
In the twenty first century, streams always make dream, and traditional instruments keep all their charm. Technology does not destroy them, it serves them. Using an electric light instead of candles does not insult our ancestors, certainly they would have liked to see more clearly. In admiration for their inimitable skill, I choose using modern tools in order to work more conveniently. They range from metal working to wood working, and use data processing. My aim is also to make instruments affordable, in a short time, but listening also to the wishes of the flutist.
First, a patient bibliographic research enabled me to write a program which allows the computer to simulate an instrument with a good approximation. The best fitting is with Renaissance flute. Three parameters are sufficient to lead a system into chaos. A flute has more. Theoretical computations predict that a flute will be false, leading to the assumption that an other will be more or less correct. Will it sing well is an other question. The computer may analyze and simplify the problem, it does not solve it, fortunately. Also they have no inspiration, mine is drawn from flutes of Rafi. He himself, in Lyon, perhaps also, strolled on the sides of Babillon, which meanders nearby.
Manufacture and checking
The machine process is a combination of wood working and metal working for precision. For example, the wood lathe is replaced by a metal lathe. But the material worked remains the wood of trees very simply, which does not suffers any chemical aggression.
Computer used in conception comes back to checking
But of sure nothing can replace a sensitive ear.
A flute must be beautiful of course, but a flute must be beautiful also. The choice is simplicity which is not easiness.
Aspect is for appreciation of the eye, and of course “tastes and colours are not for discussion”. The ring is made of brass, beautiful, easy to work, cheap. Silver is an option. Apart from this detail, the wood stays the essential visual element. My choice is oriented towards our fruit trees. “Fruit” is taken in a wide meaning, because Wild cherry is for cabinet-makers, and Service-tree (Aria torminalis) for birds. Natural beauty is maintained without use of artificial material. Glass polish for example leads to a matter which looks like plastic. Also, varnish, a questionable chemical drug is banished. And also tints, except on request, chicory or coffee. Evidently, burning with acid is disregarded due to risks. The only treatment product is linseed oil. The flutist should t maintain his flute with almond oil, inside in order to “soften” sound, and outside for a beautiful glossy aspect, unless he prefers dull.
Sound is the sense of the ear and remains a personal choice also. Computations demonstrate empirical observations. It is impossible to change only a note, and at a certain level, to improve one without deteriorate an other. Compromise, balance is traduced, in particular by temperament. Our modern ears are accustomed to equal temperament, a flute is rather destined to meantone temperament. Many details make a flute more or less easy to play. Player must not blow hard, or tense his fingers on ill placed holes. Care and design are the first keys of success. Wood is important also, especially indirectly, but the subject leads us to a long discussion ; as in a fine, way of playing, but that is an other question, still more delicate. It is so natural for birds and streams to sing in concert !
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14 December 2020