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Swiss cheese. Three thoughts occurred to me:
1) Tuning must be a whole new mess, especially on an 8-hole flute. Chimney volumes (even with fingers down) and new holes at traditional pressure points.
2) Why, in that frame of mind, stop at 8 holes? Just drill the final two holes for upper pinky hole and lower thumb and be done with it!
3) But ultimately... Why?
I see beautiful bamboo along with plugs, glue and filler!!
Some things just aren't meant to be known - why.......
I'll report what I have heard and read about this topic:
The extra holes are, as you might expect, for notes that traditionally come from the meri blowing and altered fingerings. For example, look at the 3rd from left flute in the photo. If the player closes the 6 holes and leaves the right pinky hole open, the pitch is going to be that of a tsu no meri. (don't ask me which of chu-meri meri or dai-meri..) AND the note is probably going to be a lot stronger (more similar in color and volume to the Ro and Tsu around it) That's the thinking for these extra holes.
Now that said, I have also heard a master teacher -- very possibly Yokoyama -- as saying that this changes the fundamental nature of the sound of the shakuhachi. If all notes have an equal "quality" much of the distinctive nature or even "charm" of the shakuhachi is lost. The fact that these flutes exist indicates that not all agree with this opinion, but I think it's safe to say that many _do_ agree with this criticism of adding new holes.
This is all very similar to the development that can be seen in the european flute. It started out as a keyless, usually six holed instrument. The first key added was the Eb key on the "standard" D flute. Not much surprise, that's close in pitch to Tsu no Meri. Difficult to get nice and strong (maybe not desirable to do so either!) The baroque flute of JS Bach's time had only a single Eb key (actually some had both an Eb and a D# key!) other pitches off the natural D scale of the instrument came mostly from cross fingering and partly from altering blowing angle and strength. This all sounds very familiar doesn't it! As the European flute evolved, more holes and more keys were added until in the mid 19th century the Boehm flute with a mechanical key on every hole became available. The sound from note to note became much more uniform, and it could be argued that a transposing a piece from say the key of F to the key of G would not alter the feeling of the music - or not much.
If you were to take a traditional 5 hole shakuhachi piece and play it a whole step higher (ro becomes tsu no chu meri, tsu becomes re, re becomes chi, and so forth) the piece would be very different. Many strong notes might suddenly become weak and vice versa. Likewise if you transpose from say F to G on a baroque flute, the same sort of change occurs in the music. This sort of change is much much less pronounced on a modern silver flute or a piano.
I am under the distinct impression that that large majority of modern shakuhachi players have stuck with the very traditional instrument, while the large majority of modern flute players do play the easily chromatic silver Boehm flute. There is still a significant number of baroque flute players playing the much older instrument.
I take lessons on both silver flute and shakuhachi and have discussed this idea of specific moods associated with specific keys with my flute teacher. She believes that there are certainly moods associated with keys and has played pieces (usually on piano) transposing between a couple of keys to illustrate. I argue that if you come in with a preconceived notion that the key of F feels one way and G feels some other way, that alters the way you're going to play the piece in different keys. I also believe that these ideas of moods associated with particular keys may well date from before many instruments played all notes as uniformly as they do today. As you might guess from this, I am an engineer, and she is a musician. I'm sure that our positions in this debate are influenced by the fact that she has perfect pitch and I most certainly do not.
Thanks for the thoughts, Mike.
I take lessons on both silver flute and shakuhachi and have discussed this idea of specific moods associated with specific keys with my flute teacher. She believes that there are certainly moods associated with keys and has played pieces (usually on piano) transposing between a couple of keys to illustrate.
A question... is a silver flute equally tempered? I ask because transposing or modulating a piece across other methods of tuning/intonation can easily result in "F feeling different than G", for example, because the intervals of consonance and dissonance will actually change in different keys, unlike on, say, a piano. (Where 12TET might leave many things always a bit dissonant, but at least equally so for all keys, which is useful itself...)
I think with shakuhachi, this isn't a factor though, since microadjustments by the player are the norm anyways, so we can (in theory) play "in tune" by whatever definition we choose (e.g. aiming for 12TET or Just Intonation or whatever). I say "in theory" because when I play, I'm plenty out of tune regularly on some pitches, so that leaves all subtleties of intonation pretty irrelevant!
But timbre changes on a shakuhachi as we transpose up or down are significant. I ran into this when I attempted to move a couple of popular pieces from western notation to shakuhachi and had to choose the appropriate "key" for it with 1) a result that's easily fingered (fairly easy), and 2) with color (e.g. tsu dai meri) in appropriate places (harder, for me). The latter requires really thinking about what a composer might have had in mind for intervals that are a bit "darker" or "yearning" or "forced" or whatever.
Which is why it's so enjoyable sometimes to just keep all the holes closed and simply blow and bask in whatever the flute gives you back!
A flute, like all woodwinds, needs to be blown into tune. There's enough compromise in hole position, fingering, and the like that I don't think it makes sense to talk about how the flute is tempered. It is expected that the player adjusts the pitch to place each note where it belongs, mostly by adjusting the blowing angle, sometimes by blowing slightly harder or softer, and occasionally tweaking the fingering a bit.
Certain notes have certain tendencies. The C# near the top of the treble cleff staff is naturally very sharp. The quality of various notes changes also. The second octave E always seems to sound a little "hollow" to me. I believe that second octave E is due to the fact that it's the lowest purely overblown second octave note. Eb, D and C# in that octave all have their own "correct" (whatever that means) fingerings. (of course the C# is usually pretty sharp)
There's enough compromise in hole position, fingering, and the like that I don't think it makes sense to talk about how the flute is tempered.
Since I played silver flute for so long I was surprised when I was completely dumbfounded by the temperment question.
The quality of various notes changes also. The second octave E always seems to sound a little "hollow" to me. I believe that second octave E is due to the fact that it's the lowest purely overblown second octave note. Eb, D and C# in that octave all have their own "correct" (whatever that means) fingerings.
Those "correct" fingerings open up vent holes that are supposed to help bring the tone quality closer to the notes around that note. Typically the way flutes work is that the column of air is shortened by successively opening holes from the bottom up. On silver flute it's been decided that some notes sound better when a hole further up the column, a vent hole, is also opened. I have to agree with you about putting "correct" in quotes. I clearly remember when my first teacher pointed out to me the difference in sound for the D with the vent hole open and closed. Sure the sound was different, but as far as matching the notes around it I felt that it got it closer to the C (and there I think it overcompensates), but further away from the E, which as you mentioned is a bit hollow.
Also, the Boehm system is a bit kludgy. The guy did a good job of eliminating the need for cross-fingerings and by introducing more holes on the flute was able get it to play the chromatic notes more accurately. One of the things he was going for in eliminating the cross-fingerings was to make playing more intuitive by lifting a finger for each higher note. Somehow along the way someone decided that Boehm's open G#, which accomplished that task, should be a closed G# so now you have to push down a finger on the G fingering in order to get the next highest note. The closed G# also means that the G# hole is closed for the the A (because the "correct" fingering is to lift the G# pinky finger along with the next "A" finger). That affects the tone some and there's not much you can do about it except to keep the pinky down for the A, which is difficult. However, almost all teachers will frown on the saxophone F# fingering (the middle finger) and will immediately tell you how much the it affects the intonation and is wrong. The correct F# fingering is to close the next finger down the tube, which admittedly should be better, but I find it a bit hypocritical since so many teachers have accepted the closed G#, and there are open G# flutes still being made. I'm not sure if it was a compromise Boehm made or something introduced later like the closed G#, but both F# sharp fingerings go against Boehm's philosophy of lifting a finger for each higher note too, and actually introduces a cross-fingering into a system that was supposed to eliminate cross-fingerings.
I don't think the equal-temperment question has been answered well, because although there are so many compromises being made players probably don't think about it, the flute makers probably have some idea, and in the first octave their aren't many adjustments needed to be made in the pitch.
In order to make shakuhachi as flexible as silver flute in being able to play multiple keys on the same instrument, despite the fact that your supposed to be able to play all the notes in a chromatic scale, this is the route it will ultimately have to go, ie. a complicated key system. In Turkish classical music they simply have a bunch of flutes in different keys. Of course, their music doesn't have many key changes in the middle of a composition. So, I guess the real blame goes to the piano
Thanks for the education. It's my ignorance... I wasn't aware how much bend a silver flute player 1) -can- get, and 2) typically employs when playing. Compared to shakuhachi...
So I'll leave my Just Intonation musings for fretted and experimental contexts...
Thanks for the education. It's my ignorance... I wasn't aware how much bend a silver flute player 1) -can- get, and 2) typically employs when playing. Compared to shakuhachi...
To be practical you can bend the pitch by lip adjustments about a quarter tone each way. Some players could probably get more. With flutes that have keys with open holes, bending pitches 1/2 tone isn't difficult. As far as what's typical when playing, it depends on music from what time period. Most music the adjustments are small, less than a quarter tone each way, and you have to pay attention to each note. That for playing in tune. For modern pieces you'll find composers looking for much larger bends and it's for effect.
Robert Dick has a cool head joint that allows bending notes a full third. Click on the "glissandi headjoint demonstration" link in the middle of the text on his home page to see a demonstration. www.robertdick.net
I'm on linux right now and can't see the text, nevermind the link... It's one of the few sites I have problems with, so if you have problems and you're using Firefox, I know it works with Windows and IE.
hi, i like this topic. in fact i will make soon shakuhachi with Native American flute firngering/6 hole 3+3/ . looking at my woodsounds flute i always wondered how will sound a shakuhachi tuned the same way. and i didnt get from your conversation,whats the problem with adding sone clear notes when the utaguchi stays and we can meri kari them?
ps.i mean NAF fingering
Last edited by costademaria (2007-03-17 12:55:32)
whats the problem with adding sone clear notes when the utaguchi stays and we can meri kari them?
ps.i mean NAF fingering
I think the problem is that there are pressure points where the bore of the flute is of particular importance. If a hole is placed near a pressure point the bore is affected even if the hole is covered. The result is that the sound quality of some notes will be altered. I'm not sure, but I think the pressure points have to do with the standing pressure wave that creates the sound within the flute. It seems reasonable that if there is some aberation in the bore, like a hole with a finger covering it, at a high point on that pressure wave, the tone will be affected.
This link is from John Neptune's webstie, it shows where the pressure points are.
About putting holes for a NAF flute in a shakuhachi, I'd say give it a try. Someone just made and sold a couple on Ebay, there's a shaka-lute head joint available for silver flutes, and I purchased an Irish flute with a shakuhachi head joint on Ebay some years ago. It works fine, just don't expect all the subtleties in tone quality that you get with a standard shakuhachi.
may i correct you, the pressure points change with the hole position.they are there because the holes are there. for more undestanding imagine that on the lower register the pressure point is at the middle from the mouthpiece to the tone hole.when all holes closed at the middle of the flute, at the upper register they double so respectively they are every 1/4 from the distance down,up,down,
here http://www.navaching.com/shaku/tuning.html you can read friendly explanation for better undesrtanding.it helped me alot.
ps when i say they double i mean the RO . they double for the other holes also but as the flute continues so they also continue
Last edited by costademaria (2007-03-19 09:05:02)
I think you misunderstood me about the pressure points. The example John Neptune uses on his website is that since there's a pressure point midway on the flute around where the joint is, you can experiment to see how aberations in the bore at pressure points affect the tone by pulling the flute apart some. What he suggests is that inconsistencies in the bore where pressure points exist has an effect on the tone. Placing a hole on a pressure point will cause an inconsistency in the bore because on a thick piece of bamboo the finger just covers the hole, it doesn't fill it, and even if it did fill it finger skin is a lot diferent than bamboo. I realize that the pressure points change with what note is played. However, if you place a hole on any particular pressure point for a note, you should be aware that the tone quality of that original note will be changed even though the new hole is covered to play that note.
I think this would be more of a problem when converting an otherwise fine flute to having more holes than it would be for making a new flute, but it's still something to be aware of and I believe is the "problem" the 1st post in this thread referred to.
BTW, my flute making experience is limited to just a bunch of crude PVC flutes (and none of them shakuhachi). I'm impressed with the work you did on your yuu (that you posted about on the flute making thread). It shows that the notion about the Yuu as being an exact casting of a real flute s incorrect.
yes you are right,but what i meant is that if i make 6 hole shakuhachi just for fun and better understanding i will not just put one more hole,i mean i will totally calculate it like native flute and will group the holes 3 + 3. so there would not be contradiction inside the bore. i like you dont have much experience but i am willing to experiment and understand, so is possible also that i missunderstand some info.
i also was making plastic untill i found that in the chinese shops / the 1 dolar type/ sell dry bamboo 2m for up to 5$ the piece. why dont you search and try working on bamboo. i for example choose from hundreds only the near root end ones and am making experiments with them. or at some kind of gardening supply they use them for support of flowers or just a decoration.
ps. and about the yuu- it is a copy but not a exact copy. may be i am perfectionist but if there was other alternative when i started i wouldnt give more than 5$ for it if i look at the materials used and the quality of work, but the bore, the lack of mass production.... makes it a very good buy for the money they sell it. in fact soon i think of dethroning it... which when i am ready with all will post at the forums cause i will need your help guys
Last edited by costademaria (2007-03-19 14:59:08)
You think the Yuu isn't worth $5? Evidently you don't understand much about the work that goes into making one of those as well as the guy does. They cost just a little more in materials and labor than that. You can have your opinion, but you seem to have a real problem with the Yuu. Why not stop using one if you don't like it, rather than bitch about it?
And it's poor form to come in and say you're going to "dethrone" the Yuu. It'd be like me coming in and saying, "Perry's flutes are good, but I can do better for less". Woudn't you consider that to be rude? The Yuu is made by a person, not a machine, so treat it as such. Do you consider Monty Levinson's flutes to be bad because he does the "cast bore" technique?
And good luck trying to find a bamboo alternative with such accurate playing and tuning for the price.
Sorry to rant, I just think it's rude to talk so poorly about someone's flutes like that on a public forum.
hi, i wonder why you over react to what i said. please read again what i said and i hope there would be not any misunderstanding.the truth doesn need to defend itself so i will simply say what i said again in other manner
1.i said that i am a perfectionist so i said that looking as consumer who goes to buy 300g plastic i expect sth more than this quallity may be in 1976 it was ok but now FOR ME is not /and i mean the marks from the press, the offset end hole, i mean aesthetics not functionality. but also i said that having in mind the expenses as this is not a mass production i understand very well the price and i said that it is the best for the price because of the bore. so i greatly encourage any begginer to buy a yuu cause for the money they can not buy sth better as playability. i like the yuu but this doesnt mean that i should close my eyes.
2. i have never talked this is better or this is not. i am a beginner so i dont give oppinions like this and even one day after many years if i become pro i would not say such a thing. its like to say George has better voice than Peter,better but for whom?
3. and about the detroning it - what i meant is that from the first time i hold the yuu i begun thinking in putting in production sth better. it happens so that before a month the bank gave me some money and one of the things i think of doing with that money is exactly this. to produce /not to make cause for now i simply can not/ sth better. so for now i am expecting some people from my country to tell me the production costs of this project and from this i will decide to do it or not. and i mean better looking.better material,better sounding material.
4. and i want this to be project that all here will benefit from. and i was thinking of opening of a forum where all should give their ideas and help me.how to look the flute. i thought even sb from the proffecional makers to offer his 1 best flute and we all to choose which would be. you know what i mean?cause i dont want to compete with the yuu. i was thinking of some other lenght, may be 2.4 cause to me this is what people will like. and for me you should have to understand that this is just an INSTRUMENT for inside development,awakening or whatsoever you can call it.
5. but if i dont find the understanding here,i mean if all the people instead of reading between the lines overreact like you what i will do is very simple. i will buy some good 2.4 for 3000$ and make the copy... i hope it will not go this way and be real colaboration between the people here.
6. we are living in new times when we should work and stand together and also put into life new ideas
so instead of keeping silence reading i expect some cryticism and some good words also. this is forum not a place just to read what the others say but to colaborate and give oppinions
7. and very sory to all about the word dethroning, when i am joking everybody gets very serious.
8.and producing doesnt mean monopoly,my idea is any body who wants to buy it at a production price to sell it as a cheap alternative or a camp fire indestructable alternative.
thats all i can say with respect to this conversation. and please excuse me for any missunderstanding
I paid alot more for my Yuu. $180 Canadian, and I must say, I like it alot. Not all of us have thousands or even hundreds of dollars on hand, so the Yuu offers a nice way for people to enter the world of Shakuhachi. I am, of course, very new to the Shakuhachi, but the Yuu made it possible for me to experience this beautiful instrument. No, it is not bamboo, but it is still a nice little flute, and hey, you can play it in the bathtub!!!!!
Okay, you're right, I suppose I over reacted. It's the word "dethroning" that got to me the most. It's hard to read that as a joke if it's not obvious, I suppose. I've posted things where people thought I was being far more serious than I was, that's just how the written forum word goes sometimes, I guess.
So, you're thinking about finding a current 2.4 and copying it? I guess that's kind of how the yuu was done. I guess you'd have to find someone willing to let you use thier flute... you'd probably have to share profits with them, I'm guessing. I suppose it depends on the deal you make with them. I've actually thought many times about how I'd like a yuu in the 2.4-ish size for travelling. I didn't have a bigger flute with me when I went to Arizona last year, and I was really missing it. Are you thinking about putting a joint in it? I wouldn't usually buy a flute with a joint, but I would for good plastic version. It really helps with portability.
And there's a good combo of ABS Plastic/Wood resin out there you can get, or create your own mix. I used to be into resin for recreating movie props, and know a little about it. I've thought about casting flutes using a resin/wood mix.
I agree that some of the Yuu astetics leave a little to be desired for the price. It doesn't seem difficult to just spend a few more minutes finishing it. That's what I did with mine.
I think someone else might've been attacking the yuu recently, and I might've gotten you and he confused. Peace?
thats why i love my yuu,to tell you the truth when i bought it i was without a job for 3 months and had to sell my gps/from my truck/ to afford it. and i play it a lot. i also dont have hundreds to spend thats why i started to learn how to make,this is the truth,but the making turned a great joy for me as i am a very technical and active person
thats what i mean. bigger shakuhachi,available to any one and desighned by the people here.for the people here and out there... to tell you the truth i dont like joints as a one piece is a symbol for me for an integrity but may be it would be better to have a joint for portability. in fact thats what i mean that any body should give their oppinion. and i am not talking about bussiness here but about creating sth. with a purpose from the beginning. and i also think that for a maker would be important the reputation that his shack is the base for the plastic one/ i mean i dont need to own the original just to copy it/
some times we should give and for that we would be given
I would be very interested in a long wide bored shakuhachi made of synthetic materials and repeatable. The problem this far is that the alternatives all concentrate on the 1.8 model of thinking. Which is boring.
first please sorry DSTONE that we went to totaly other direction and if neccessary we can move this talk elsewhere. please just let me know
as i said having in mind more the meditative side which first was my idea i found that the people like 2.4 very much. and even long handed this is the last i play really comfortably. and the sound... so you like the idea?
ps.and as for the yuu you can see what maniac i am at the following fotos
Well, I'd love to be able to say no to a joint, I agree with you there, but since it's plastic anyway, it probably wouldn't matter too much from a zen standpoint. If I'm going to buy a plastic flute, I'm really not as concerned with such things. With bamboo, it's a different thing for me.
Perhaps working with Ken LaCosse (if he'd be into this) would be the way to go, since he does those relatively inexpensive Chinese Rootends, some of which look great. Of course, the bore size is a big thing, and I agree with Brian that wider would be better for these, since we can already get a 1.8.
i only have 1 thing sure- and this is that the flute should be worth production so the bore should be perfect!!!!
and one thing unsure- is that the holes should not be undercut cause this will raise immensly the price.that from my technical point of view.
and my personal oppinion is that it should be a bit wider bore at the blowend like the 1900 tozan.thats why i wait for oppinions.
yes you are right,but what i meant is that if i make 6 hole shakuhachi just for fun and better understanding i will not just put one more hole,i mean i will totally calculate it like native flute and will group the holes 3 + 3. so there would not be contradiction inside the bore.
But you can't really calculate to avoid the pressure points, can you? If, for example, you want to put a hole to be able to play a B (on a D flute), you're going to have to put the hole for it between the holes that enable you to play the the A and C, and that's going to be very close to a pressure point. I don't think it really makes much difference for what you want to do because it's a new flute, but it doesn't have much to do with avoiding pressure points. Silver flutes have holes for every half-tone, so I'm pretty sure some of those holes fall on or near pressure points, and no one seems to complain. It's really only an issue if you have a well made shakuhachi with the standard five holes, then it's probably a bad idea to start adding holes without weighing both the upside and downside of what you're doing. On one hand, you gain easy access to a particular note, but on the other hand you may be altering the sound of some of the other notes because the new hole could be on a pressure point.
You think the Yuu isn't worth $5? Evidently you don't understand much about the work that goes into making one of those as well as the guy does. They cost just a little more in materials and labor than that.
Maybe $5 is a bit extreme, but you can get cast recorders for a lot less than a Yuu. I understand that with plastic casting the cost of the mold is the expensive part, so you have to start charging as much as you need to cover the startup expense in a reasonable amount of time. After the startup expense is covered I guess you can charge as much as the market will bear.
The Yuu is made by a person, not a machine, so treat it as such. Do you consider Monty Levinson's flutes to be bad because he does the "cast bore" technique?
You apparently know something about the Yuu. Someone asked about the history a while back and never got a good answer. I Googled my fingers blue and couldn't find any information. You say they're made by a person, not a machine, but I thought they were cast, which can be labor intensive if not automated (like the recorders probably are) and would justify the price, but is it by the individual who sells them on the website or someone else?