Scale of Fingering
for Richard Potter's Patent Flute
These fingerings are taken from a single sheet publication
A SCALE, or GAMUT, explaining the Use of the
in Mr. Potter's new-invented Patent German - Flute.
as the Act directs, by Harrison & Co. No.18
Paternoster Row London April 14, 1787.
The single sheet is quite large - perhaps Ledger (11" x
17"). Fold marks reproduced on my copy suggest that it was folded
and included in a more typically sized publication. The note "Publish'd
as the Act directs" suggests it might have been affixed to
Potter's Patent document, granted two years earlier in 1785. I
believe I made my copy of both at the Library of Congress in 2002; this
is supported by the size of the paper being in the US series.
The original approximately A3 lithograph is far too finely
printed and my copy too light to present on screen successfully.
Further, the fingerings are illustrated with sketches of the flute with
keys shown open or closed, so it's really quite hard to interpret.
I've reset it, using my text-based fingering-chart format that
I find economical in size and effort, while being easily readable.
Following usual practice, open holes are shown as "x" if covered and "o"
if not. Keys are not shown if in rest position, and shown as
commas and apostrophes if operated. The key marks appear between the
finger-holes in the positions the cups occupy. This gets around the
problem that levers could be operated by one or more different fingers.
The full compliment of six holes and six keys would thus appear: oo,o'
From left to right the keys are Bb, G#, Short F, Eb, C#, C.
Let me know if you find any fingerings that seem unworkable. It
might just be a typo!
The Harrison-Potter document shows
only fingerings involving the "additional Keys", leaving us with a lot
of gaps for the un-keyed fingerings, i.e. the pre-existing 1-key flute
fingerings. It seemed appropriate to fill in the gaps with typical
1-key flute fingerings from Gunn, published circa 1793. To make
the two parts clear, I've coloured Potter's fingerings in blue, with
Gunn's in black.
Note that Gunn also has his own Scale
for the Additional Keys. It covers much the same ground but is not
quite as comprehensive.
Potter's chart gives only two of his keyed notes
"Middle" C (C5) can be played either as the second
harmonic of low C (C4), vented by L2 or with the usual 1-key
Third octave F (F6) is given three alternatives, two
involving the additional keys and one as per 1-key flute useage.
Potter's scale gives the initial appearance of respect for
enharmonic fingerings, but closer examination shows that the enharmonic
pairs Eb and D#, E# and F, G# and Ab, etc., are all given a single
fingering per pair. The same is largely the case for Gunn's 1-key
fingerings, excepting where a choice of cross-fingerings provides notes
that can perhaps only be fairly promoted as B-sharp or C natural.
In keeping with Potter's precedent of giving only one fingering to an
enharmonic pair, I've not presented the extra options Gunn gives.
I might reconsider that policy if players feel that would be useful.
A note to Irish flute players
While this fingering chart may be of historical interest
to Irish flute players, it is unlikely to satisfy their modern day
needs. The 6-key flute in Potter's day was essentially a 4-key
flute with additional C and C# keys on the foot, while the modern Irish
6-key flute derives from the 19th century 8-key flute, sans the C and C#
keys. Further, Potter's flute has small holes, so some of the
fingerings and, in particular many in the third octave, will vary
considerably from modern large-hole flute practice.
Printing it out
I've formatted it so it fits on to one A4 page. If
that doesn't work for you, you might try cutting and pasting the table
into your word processor and reformatting it there.
Where is it?
In order to let you print it out conveniently, I've put it
on a separate page. I hope you find it useful!
On to Potter's Patent Flute
Fingering Chart or
Back to McGee Flutes Index page.