Cornelius Ward - The Flute Explained


ON the termination of the column of air above the mouth-hole of the flute, we have to remark, that the due position of the terminator is another requisite, essential to the correct intonation of the instrument.

When the bore is of the just diameter and proper taper, and while the slide remains closed, the position of the terminator, as measured from the centre of the mouth-hole, should be distant there from exactly one diameter of the cylindrical part of the bore. If placed nearer the mouth-hole, the octaves will be too distant, and vice versa.

The flute will not retain its intonation if flattened below the pitch for which it is constructed; the incorrectness, especially in the second octaves, increasing with the increasing descent in pitch. By moving the terminator nearer to the mouth­hole in a certain ratio to the extent to which the sliding tube is drawn out, the correctness of the octaves is restored, at least within the limits designed.

The terminator of the patent flute is made of silver, to avoid the decay, accident, and consequent alterations to which cork is liable; and very simple means are provided to adjust and indicate accurately, any necessary change in its position. It can never be placed beyond its proper limits.

The mode of action will be easily perceived by reference to the annexed figure. It is only necessary to place the ring of the Index, shown at N, to a number (on either side of the N circle) corresponding to that which shows itself at the top of the slide, at M, after the flute has been drawn out to any required pitch.

Comparatively unimportant as this matter may, appear, it is not undeserving of notice, especially as much perplexity is often experienced from accidents or displacement, without the means or the knowledge of the remedy. These accidents cannot occur in the Patent Flute.

The defects of cork thus employed we have already noticed; but in the usual apparatus, of whatever material, the terminator may easily be displaced; and even if right to begin with, does not perform its office readily, nor indicate its effect with precision.

That we may be understood by the less experienced amateur, we must observe that a slight removal of the terminator from the mouth-hole confirms power and roundness on the lower notes, and that the converse motion gives ease and freedom to the production of the alto notes; and this without any such amount of alteration of pitch or intonation as may not be easily obviated. Talented performers, therefore, are in the habit of adopting one or the other of these operations according as their music varies from a low adagio to a brilliant alto variation. Again, the lips of some performers are not always in a condition to produce the octaves sharp enough: the remedy is indicated above; and while the desired alteration, in this and the preceding case can be effected with ease and certainty in the Patent Flute, it is impracticable on any other tuning-head. On these and other grounds, we think our Patent tuning-head will be found an important practical improvement.

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