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Intonation with my upgraded flute

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peterflute
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Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby peterflute » Sun Nov 08, 2015 7:42 pm

I'm a returnee to the flute world, this year I came back after a break of a couple of decades. I always played an Armstrong 90, and managed to do quite well with that, playing professionally and doing our Australian music exams up to Associate Diploma level. To celebrate resuming the faith, I indulged myself in a Muramatsu GX, which is giving a sweetness of tone I never ever got from my old Armstrong - that will surprise nobody! BUT, for the first time in a total of +/- 30 years of flute playing, I am finding intonation has become a major issue. When I check against the tuner which you can find on flutetunes.com, I'm finding the 3rd register is way sharp, and it's very hard to push it down (rolling the flute in to cover more of the aperture etc). And I'm finding that where, on my old flute, the finer tuning I did intuitively, now I hear it going out and really have to struggle to manage it. Yesterday I sat in with a local band playing some jazz, and in all the noise I couldn't hear myself very well. We were actually playing outdoors, under a tarpaulin, and there was very heavy rain bucketing down (typical band stuff, hey). I was tending to play in the higher range just to hear myself better, and it was at times so far out (in the wrong sense) that I wished I hadn't heard - totally embarrassing.

Apart from this I've been playing with a classical pianist friend in his music studio, in more or less ideal conditions. While in this set up I can at least hear the intonation drift when I start to get tired, and I can manage it better.

I'm finding this very frustrating - spend $$$$$ to upgrade and start to play out of tune ... What???? Do any of the experienced members of this forum have anything to say about intonation on better quality instruments?

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pied_piper
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Re: Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby pied_piper » Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:38 pm

Have you checked to verify that the headjoint cork is in the correct position? The position of the cork has a big affect on intonation of the third octave.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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Gandalfe
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Re: Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby Gandalfe » Tue Nov 10, 2015 12:41 pm

I would take this to a tech, this can be fixed. If you think it's just you, have another flute player you respect check it out, but I'm guessing that the pied_piper is spot on.
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I played the wrong, wrong notes. ~ Thelonious Monk

peterflute
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Re: Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby peterflute » Wed Nov 11, 2015 5:19 am

Thanks for the suggestions. I have checked the position of the cork with the cleaning rod, and in fact the mark on the rod is slightly (about 2 millimetres) to the right of the centre of the hole in the embouchure plate, so it's not actually in position. This will probably make a difference. It's actually not the original head joint, it's a Faulisi head joint, which I bought in Paris about a month ago. It has a clearer, more ringing tone than the Muramatsu h.j. I will email the technician who sold it to me and ask his advice. I attempted to push the cork out a bit, but it was pretty stiff to move, and I was not willing to risk forcing it. I'd like to show it to a technician here, but I live 3 hours drive from the nearest big city, so I'm on my own. I don't even know any good flute players around here, tho I could possibly hunt one out at the regional college of music which is not so far from here.

What I notice playing this flute as compared to my old one, is that the Mura, as well as having a richer timbre, is far more responsive to what I do with my breath and embouchure, more flexible in terms of colour, volume, the amount of edge I can put on the sound etc, so I suppose the same flexibility applies to the intonation, and it's up to me to develop much more control in that department.

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pied_piper
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Re: Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby pied_piper » Wed Nov 11, 2015 2:54 pm

2 mm to the right is definitely enough to make the third octave sharp. The standard position is 17.3 mm so yours is roughly 12 % off. Get a tech to help reposition it and I think you will find the intonation better.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

peterflute
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Re: Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby peterflute » Sat Nov 14, 2015 4:30 pm

The plot thickens ... I emailed the tech guy who sold me the Faulisi head joint. He replied saying he supposed that I was using the Muramatsu cleaning rod to measure the position. He said that due to the parabolic curves of the Faulisi, the cork goes a little further into the headjoint than it does with the Muramatsu h.j. He didn't give the exact measurement, but suggested I move it around a bit and experiment to see if it improves the intonation. So I'll have to play round with all this and see what result I get. I'll report back.

On a more general level, I'm doing all this testing using the online tuner at flutetunes.com, already a somewhat baffling experience, since it indicates irregularities in my intonation which I can't even hear. Perhaps all this gets masked in normal playing by vibrato. I'm also reminded of the fact that the higher the pitch of a note the faster the vibrations are, meaning that there is a much tighter band of 'acceptable' intonation' up high. So when you get into the 3rd register of the flute there is less margin, and a relatively small deviation will have a relatively greater impact. Any opinions on this?

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pied_piper
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Re: Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby pied_piper » Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:57 pm

Well, virtually all Boehm flute headjoints use a parabolic taper. Yes, the taper can vary a bit by maker but so can the position of the embouchure plate longitudinally. See these articles:

http://www.flutebuilder.com/2012/08/the ... taper.html
http://www.burkart.com/assets/articles/ ... joints.pdf

For "most" flutes, 17.3 mm is the diameter of the headjoint bore at the center of the embouchure hole and that is what determines the position of the headjoint cork. If the bore diameter of the Faulisi headjoint is different than 17.3 mm, then the cork position should equal that diameter. Of course, those positions should be considered starting points. The optimal position for best intonation can vary with different players. Start at about 17.3mm. If the 3rd octave is sharp for most notes, move the cork north toward the crown, if the 3rd octave is flat for most notes, move it south toward the footjoint.

You might want to search the forum for a posting by Joe Butkevicious about setting the cork position. He thoroughly explained the best way to adjust the headjoint cork to the optimal position by tuning octaves by overblowing.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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JButky
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Re: Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby JButky » Tue Nov 17, 2015 1:38 pm

search the forum for a posting by Joe Butkevicious about setting the cork position
Butkevicius.. I tell people I'm not vicious 8)
Joe B

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pied_piper
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Re: Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby pied_piper » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:55 pm

Butkevicius.. I tell people I'm not vicious 8)
Sorry Joe. :oops:
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

peterflute
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Re: Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby peterflute » Fri Nov 20, 2015 4:28 am

Thanks for that pied_piper - extremely clear and concise, and simple. I'll experiment with that and see if it makes a difference, or rather what difference it makes.

I think the guy from Faulisi meant their flutes have a particular parabolic curve which favours that position for the cork. However he did't give any detail on that. The article by Jim Phelan was particularly interesting, and gives us an idea of why the whole thing is so complicated and elusive.

By the way, has anyone heard of Faulisi head joints in the US? I've seen no reference, yet in Europe a number of the top flutists use them, and quite a few of the Asian flute players too. Perhaps there are too many home-grown flute makers in the US.

Finally, if JButky could direct me to his contribution on placing the cork, I'd be grateful. I searched and found some references to him, but not that note.

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JButky
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Re: Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby JButky » Sun Nov 22, 2015 7:36 am

Joe B

peterflute
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Re: Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby peterflute » Fri Nov 27, 2015 4:31 am

Thanks for those links Joe - they are very detailed and seem clear, although there is one point, the very point I need to work on as a matter of fact, where if I'm reading correctly there's a contradiction.

Pied Piper quotes the acoustics dept of the music dept of NSW (my home state incidentally) to say:

Pushing the cork in raises the pitch of all notes, but it raises the pitch of high notes more than that of low notes. Pulling it out (just screw the crown clockwise) lowers the the high notes more than the low.

... so to lower the top register, pull the cork out, taking it further from the embouchure hole.

But in you article you say:

Fine tune cork position for the 3rd register using the fingering for the first register. Overblow low D (D1) to play high D (D3). Do the same for Eb to G chromatically comparing the overblown harmonic note to the actual 3rd register fingering. If the regular notes are sharp you will need to decrease the cork distance from the embouchure hole center to the cork plate -

... so to lower the top register, push the cork in, closer to the embouchure hole.

Have I not understood or am I getting opposite messages?

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JButky
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Re: Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby JButky » Fri Nov 27, 2015 6:33 pm

No you are correct, That should be increase. You need to pull the cork out. It seems the last corrections I made to that article didn't get to the webmaster before uploading. Thanks,

I'll have that corrected next week

You're understanding seems to be correct..
Joe B

peterflute
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Re: Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby peterflute » Fri Nov 27, 2015 11:41 pm

thanks Joe, I was worried! Now I can try out this adjustment with more confidence.
Peter

cynthiamyra
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Re: Intonation with my upgraded flute

Postby cynthiamyra » Tue Aug 22, 2017 5:47 am

What a great in information shared here. Thanks, all. Really liked the post here, Inspired.

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