June 28th, 2008

Musical Ralphy

Ergonomic Folk Flute

I have inquired about the weight of one of the small-handed flutes described here: http://www.caseyburnsflutes.com/ff.php

I really want an honest to goodness D flute that I can hold and play with halfway comfort. The way things are now, I just never learn to play in part because the payback is small for the discomfort.

Take into account that I’m a guy who writes with a fountain pen and makes tea in a pot with a cozy. I want a flute with a low D that is like a pot of fragrant black tea.

(Played by Grey Larsen, the Folk Flute sure sounds like Grey Larsen playing flute, so it’s not surprising he recommends these flutes for beginners.)
Apollo 4 on column of fire

The weight of the Casey Burns Folk Flute

Casey says those flutes weigh between 8 and 8.5 ounces. So I got out a cheap letter scale and my heaviest instruments, both of which are uncomfortable to hold up. My plastic Yamaha alto recorder weighs 6 ounces and my Tipple drain pipe flute weighs about 5.5 ounces. I expected wood to weigh more than drain pipe, what are you gonna do? At least a flute doesn’t have to sit on my troublesome right thumb, like a recorder does. I noticed something interesting, though, which is that the finger holes on the recorder no longer feel too far apart; in other words, straining to try to play a six-hole D flute has been more work than I realized, so that now what seemed difficult on a recorder seems easy.

I had a similar experience once with clarinet, where I had played with a broken reed for so long that, when I managed to bum a stiff reed off of a really good player, I was shocked how easy it was to play with that reed.

(If I had been Lisa Simpson I would have gotten a reed from the parental unit, as one ought to, but the parental unit would show up too late and I would be humiliated. BTW my uncle discovered not only that I had rendered his clarinet unplayable, which I had explained already, but also that it was a piece of crap in the first place. It was too heavy for a kid, regardless; I think it was made of wood-finished depleted uranium. Get your kid one of those plastic instruments, they are actually better than uranium. :)

Anyway, I needed to know the weight, and the weight is not good, but also I learned just how much trouble spreading my fingers is causing me, so that a small-handed flute may more than make up the difference. The only way to know is to try, but I haven’t spent that much before on an instrument. (And my birthday is coming up.)
Musical Ralphy

Folk Flute upupdate (upupupdated) (upupupupdated)

I think I’m going to go ahead and order one, because, frankly, and this is what I have resisted admitting, I’m just not happy with my plastic flutes. I’m happy with my plastic recorders, which are very like the wooden instrument and have tapered bores, but I am not happy with the flutes, which are makeshift designs and not true conical-bore simple system flutes. The Tony Dixons are really cylindrical-bore whistles for which I have a flute headjoint accessory, and the Tipples are lengths of PVC plumbing with holes drilled in them and a used wine cork to stop one end. Those Tipple flutes particularly are nice, despite being built out of hardware supplies and garbage, but aren’t really what I want.

Unfortunately I just missed a deadline for the current batch of Folk Flutes and a flute ordered now won’t go out until October.

On the other hand, that will give me plenty of time to stock up on bore oil, of which I don’t have any! :) Didn’t need any, because my one wooden instrument is wax-impregnated. (Sounds kinky.)

Now I think I’ll go play some whistle, maybe....

Upupupdate: I ordered it from Grey Larsen instead of directly from Casey Burns, so maybe Larsen is getting a bunch of them that are already made and I’ll end up with one of those. I don’t know if that’s how it works. Due to the bugginess of Opera on my platform I almost accidentally ordered the standard spacing instead of the small-handed! I had to re-enter my order after killing Opera and re-starting twice, and forgot to select the hole spacing the second time, but I noticed when I double-checked my order.

Upupupupdate: I guess it says at Grey Larsen’s site that the timing is the same whichever way you buy the flute, so I guess that Larsen just passes the money along, minus commission.