which golden 14k flute?

Flute History and Instrument Purchase

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JButky
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Post by JButky » Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:03 pm

Phineas wrote:

Everything vibrates, especially anything that makes a sound.
In the case of the flute though, it is a container for vibrating air which is controlled by the player. Material may vibrate, however when that happens at particular locations and at a sufficient threshold, it is to the detriment of performance for the flute. It is never to its advantage. Any container for vibrating air that vibrates sympathetically with the air column moves in the direction of inefficiency as the effect increases.
Joe B

DivaricationOfMind
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Post by DivaricationOfMind » Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:28 pm

I have played many flutes made from different metals. I do not believe the material itself is responsible for giving the instrument a certain sound.

What I do believe is that different metals will feel and respond differently to each individual person’s air stream.

So, it’s not about buying a gold flute because it’s gold; or buying a platinum flute because it’s platinum. It’s about the compatibility between the individual and the instrument.


For example:

I played a few Burkart M2 headjoints at the Florida Flute Fair made of different materials. Now, aside from the fact that they’re handcut and are not identical; to my ears and the ears of some fellow flute players, these headjoints produced the same sound.

What I can say is that though these headjoint produced the same type of sound, these headjoints did not all feel the same way to me.

The gold felt more resistant with a slightly different spectrum of tonal colors and the silver felt more familiar with a palette of colors that I felt more comfortable with when picking it up for the first time.(I think this is because I play on a silver headjoint)

The platinum felt very responsive and had some interesting colors.

So, through that trial I feel I can state that though I don’t think the quality of sound improved from metal to metal, the way the headjoints responded definitely felt different.


Did the headjoints feel different because they’re all handcut or was it the metal?

I couldn’t tell you for sure. But, as stated earlier; I believe it’s about the compatibility between player and instrument.

As far as the body goes, I definitely think the sound produced is a result of the design.

fluteguy18
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Post by fluteguy18 » Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:40 pm

I'm sticking to my guns on this one. The material vibrates, and the density matters. Does a single metal have certain acoustic attributes? Maybe, maybe not. I personally, as well as thousands of flutists worldwide have played many flutes, and have by popular consensus realized that the various materials physically play differently. They have not however determined whether they actually impact the audible sound.

I'm not arguing this anymore. Experiance should always outweigh science because time and time again, science has failed to explain things in many cases on many issues. And besides, why is it worth my time to argue and debate until the cows come home if I don't even know you? The answer: it's not. I have a recital in 24 hours and have more important things to worry about.

'Later!

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Phineas
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Post by Phineas » Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:38 pm

fluteguy18 wrote:I'm sticking to my guns on this one. The material vibrates, and the density matters. Does a single metal have certain acoustic attributes? Maybe, maybe not. I personally, as well as thousands of flutists worldwide have played many flutes, and have by popular consensus realized that the various materials physically play differently. They have not however determined whether they actually impact the audible sound.

I'm not arguing this anymore. Experiance should always outweigh science because time and time again, science has failed to explain things in many cases on many issues. And besides, why is it worth my time to argue and debate until the cows come home if I don't even know you? The answer: it's not. I have a recital in 24 hours and have more important things to worry about.

'Later!
Stop typin and play the d**n thang! Break some glass! :P

Phineas

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cflutist
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Post by cflutist » Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:01 pm

FG18,

Yeah, have a great recital.

And ... thanks for all that you contribute to this board :D

Phineas, you too !!!!

I've been bad, didn't practice last week so the bird wasn't flying too well last night during rehearsal of Peter and the Wolf ... LOL

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pied_piper
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Post by pied_piper » Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:29 pm

I'll add my vote along with Fluteguy18 and I'll even go so far as to say the different materials sound as well as feel slightly different at least as far as headjoints are concerned.

When I was shopping for a new headjoint, I took a while visiting shops for initial trials and later did an at-home trial with several headjoints from a single manufacturer. The headjoints were all the same cut and differed only in the material of the tube, riser, and embouchure plate. Now granted, these were all handcut and I'll concede that there could be minor differences in the multiple examples of the same cut. The final 4 that I tested were configured as follows:

A - all silver
B - silver tube, silver riser, 14K embouchure plate
C - silver tube, 14k riser, 14K embouchure plate
D - 14K tube, platinum riser, 14K embouchure plate

My test method employed two unbiased techniques with both myself and my wife (also a skilled musician) listening:

1 - I was blindfolded and did not know which headjoint I was playing. My wife swapped the headjoints at random and I could not perceive any weight difference to indicate which I was playing at any given moment.
2 - I played the headjoints at random and my wife listened without seeing which I was playing.

For both methods and each headjopint, I played the same variety of music excerpts that collectively covered the full range of the flute and encompassed various styles. We did this repeatedly over several days and ranked the sound of each (My ranking was counted only while I was blindfolded and my wife's ranking was counted only when she could not see which one I was playing). At the end, we compared our ratings of the sound. All of them produced a good quality flute sound but we both agreed on the top and bottom ranked headjoints; the all silver (A) was ranked at the bottom and the 14K tube, platinum riser, 14K embouchure plate (D) was ranked the best sound. I ultimately bought headjoint D even though I originally had no intention of buying a 14K headjoint. I really did not want to spend that much, but the rankings convinced both me and my wife that the 14K/Platinum/14K headjoint was really worth the difference.

I'll reiterate what I mentioned in my previous post. I firmly believe that scientific equipment CANNOT (yet) capture all the nuances of sound that are perceived by the human ears and mind. Computers cannot yet duplicate the intelligence of the mind. Likewise, computer generated music cannot yet replicate all of the human nuances applied to music. Someday that may change, but the current state-of-the-art of electronics are inferior to humans in this regard and thus cannot be relied upon for judgement in such matters.

So, in the meanwhile, I'll continue to rely upon trained ears to decide what sounds best.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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JButky
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Post by JButky » Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:22 am

fluteguy18 wrote:
I'm not arguing this anymore. Experiance should always outweigh science because time and time again, science has failed to explain things in many cases on many issues.
We have to be careful to not let passion in our reasoning lead to statements such as this. Experience should not always "outweigh" science. The two need to be reconciled however. Science needs to explain what is happening. There is no doubt that people can notice and feel a difference in materials and sound when playing. So far science has not been able to determine the exact variables that cause this to happen. There is a large uncontrollable variable in this causing science so many problems, and that is the huge variance of players.

Science has been able to demonstrate that listeners on average can't perceive a difference in blind tests just by changing the material. But players can feel differences in the way flutes play however and that is determined by numerous factors.

A flute is a system of many variables. When you change one aspect (variable) of the system, it is reasonable to conclude that there is indeed a difference in the result since the system is very complex. Since it is very complex and variables interact with each other, (and this includes the player as a variable), it has been very difficult for science to conclude with specificity the exact causation.

As one who is involved with a variety of flute materials daily and as one who is aware of the vast majority of the studies concerning material and sound, it is obvious to me that science has yes to determine the reasons for this effect. As Benade used to basically point out, I know what the science says, but I trust my ears. Now let's figure out how.

Most tests try to isolate variables. Unfortunately, instrument performance does not exist without its application, the player. Where science fails in its understanding of this is in the ability to control the most unstable variable in the system. As a result science may never be able to explain this phenomenon without cataloging all the player input variables, assigning them a range and then rerun the comparative material tests. We are a long way from there.
Joe B

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MissyHPhoenix
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Post by MissyHPhoenix » Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:44 am

I know this thread has basically been discussing gold and silver flutes and the differences in playing. Since I have absolutely no experience with gold flutes, I can only think of my real experiences -- which have been with silver flutes and the composite flute I have (Phineas has one, too). I know that in order to produce the same tone quality on the composite, I have to blow a LOT harder than on my silver flutes. Is this the headjoint or the material used to produce the flute? Since I have no idea of the answer .... anybody know???? :lol:
Missy

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Phineas
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Post by Phineas » Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:24 am

MissyHPhoenix wrote:I know this thread has basically been discussing gold and silver flutes and the differences in playing. Since I have absolutely no experience with gold flutes, I can only think of my real experiences -- which have been with silver flutes and the composite flute I have (Phineas has one, too). I know that in order to produce the same tone quality on the composite, I have to blow a LOT harder than on my silver flutes. Is this the headjoint or the material used to produce the flute? Since I have no idea of the answer .... anybody know???? :lol:
hey MissyH

After you get you composite flute setup right, it will play alot easier/better(understatement!). Other than that, it is mainly the cut of the headjoint that makes the composite flute more difficult to control, not the material. Especially if you are going to play classical music on it!

After you get use to the composite headjoint, the sound you get will be quite comparable. I have a lot of experiences playing Bamboo/Cane flutes, so it was not too difficult me to adapt to it.

I will record a comparison tonight, and let you check it out for yourself.

Phineas

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MissyHPhoenix
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Post by MissyHPhoenix » Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:59 pm

Oh, that's great! I can't wait to hear it!

And yeah, I like to play baroque on my composite. Going to call the lady you recommended tomorrow to talk to her about getting it fixed. Thanks a bunch!!!!! :D
Missy

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dogster
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ok then why ?

Post by dogster » Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:06 pm

I started flute a little over 1 1/2 ago and I have 5 flutes I find my armstrong
104 vintagat was restored is very different to play . It requires more effort for me to get the higher notes . Its sliver plated throughout. So my sterling silver Haynes vintage is easy to play . So is it me or the materials the quality of the flute .

Doug

bj
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Materials Matter

Post by bj » Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:25 am

Did any of you listen to Sir James play the exact same thing on 16 flutes of varying material?

There is a difference, sorry Toby, a big difference if you have a true musical ear. Your discussion can end by just listening to someone play the exact same thing on 16 flutes of gold, of silver and of platinum. Some people will say (and have said) they all sound the same. I heard clear distinct differences.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0n3n3N3SOY

Regards

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Re: Materials Matter

Post by Tarandros » Wed Aug 19, 2009 3:22 pm

bj wrote:Did any of you listen to Sir James play the exact same thing on 16 flutes of varying material?

There is a difference, sorry Toby, a big difference if you have a true musical ear. Your discussion can end by just listening to someone play the exact same thing on 16 flutes of gold, of silver and of platinum. Some people will say (and have said) they all sound the same. I heard clear distinct differences.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0n3n3N3SOY

Regards
I've obviously got cloth ears, then, as I listened to the video and they all sounded the same to me - though admittedly just through computer speakers, not a very good indication at all, admittedly. I think James Galway's actually written somewhere that to him, all metal flutes (presumably precious metal ones at any rate) sound the same. His video involved flutes that were all of top quality spanning 100 years from Louis Lot though to the modern Japanese flutes. It would have been a more interesting experiment if he'd mixed in some student type, reasonable quality brass flutes as well, which would have given even more of an indication as to how much is in the instrument and how much in the performer as regards the final sound.

How the experience of playing instruments of different metals feels to the performer could be another matter. I'm sure that there are in fact subtle differences in tone between the different metals but these would be very difficult to tell apart by anyone without a great deal of experience in playing the flute. To most audiences, it probably doesn't make any difference at all. I suppose what I mean is that if you were good enough to get a break playing say the Prokofiev Sonata at Carnegie Hall but dropped your usual gold Murumatsu the day before the concert and had to play on your spare, say, a silver Pearl, I really don't think that would be a career breaker if you were that good anyway. In fact, you might even be able to get away with playing the concert on a reasonable student flute without 99.9% of the audience being any the wiser! Regards, T.

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Post by bj » Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:35 pm

It would have been a more interesting experiment if he'd mixed in some student type,



I think a couple of the Muramatsu's were not high end flutes, they were just plain entry level or mid range. The point of the experiment was to let you see if you could discern, not to tell you what to think. He can obviously play on anything, and still sound like himself. It's a matter of degree of work to make it sound good, and what mix make it easier to sound like himself.

Point taken however about being able to play the back-up, most people wouldn't know the difference, however the performance may take on a different character based on what you were using. That #8 is my favorite, and he's amazing on it.
Best

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Post by fluteguy18 » Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:08 pm

I'm not sure where exactly you're from (or the background you come from so please don't take offense), but Muramatsu flutes are seen as really nice instruments in many different parts of the world. Even the "low end" models they offer are completely handmade. Most flutes that are played by flutists around the world are generally machine made flutes, and are of a lower caliber than even the Muramatsu EX. A much lower quality in fact. For many people, the Muramatsu EX (the lowest model they produce) is a flute that they only dream of having, or decide that it will be the last flute that they invest in.

So these aren't necessarily "low end" or "mid range" instruments. Now, if you are only comparing them against other companies like Powell, Brannen, Haynes, Nagahara, Miyazawa, etc... they do offer relatively "low end" flutes (as do some of the companies I have listed). So high/mid/low range classifications are all relative.

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