Better, now that I can hear

Yeah, hearing helps on a flute. šŸ™‚ I’m hitting notes much more reliably on the kaval now, although my second octave on the flute is still a challenge. It’s annoying because it seems to come and go; some days it’s good, and others almost every note above a second octave D cracks low on me (even including the E sometimes, which makes me despair).

I also just recently got a method book for the kaval that’s mostly in Turkish with select parts of it translated into English. (I have no idea how to make the diacritics needed to render the title, but it’s here.

I’m not sure the method part will help me any more than just bullheadedly barreling through with long tones, but there’s some really neat music in there. A lot of it is in Turkish scales, which aren’t diatonic, though. They seem to divide up not the octave but the whole tone itself into 9 divisions, which they call coma (which may be from the old Greek term comma). So there are something like a billion ways for a note to be sharp or flat. Holy crap.

Either way, I’ve really got to listen to the music to get a grip on it because it’s quite alien for me, who is coming from a stubbornly diatonic culture. Even the pentatonic scale (the only other one that most Westerners would be familiar with thanks to rock and blues) is just a subset of diatonic, so it’s easy to slot into it for someone who has spent her whole life in the Western music world.

I still think I want to get a handle on freygische before I really move into anything new, though. That one’s still a bit closer to 12ET, diatonic with some tweaks.

I really have to finish that little klezmer-esque melody on the damned harp finally. I’m sick of having that just float around unfinished when it’s such fun to think about.


It just hit me.

Apparently, Prince Harry is getting married tomorrow, and it’s a Big Thing. And they’re getting hitched in Westminster Abbey.

I’ve been there. It’s full of famous people’s corpses. It’s cool, but it’s full of famous dead people.

So they’re basically getting married in a graveyard. Which is surprisingly Goth for a royal wedding.

Adding fingers to second-octave A and B

I think I may have discovered that adding a few low fingers to those makes it easier to hit them without cracking into the lower register.

The thing is, I’ve got a good, beefy low register on the flute, and if I struggle anywhere it’s in the next octave up. For all I know, that may be typical. But adding in the fingers appears to help. As an added bonus, it appears to push them a bit sharp, which helps since I tend to have to blow down to get them, and that pushes them flat.

Until I get my left ear cleared out though, I can’t really tell. It’s a nasty instrument to practice when you’re deaf in one ear. šŸ˜¦ (The kaval is utterly unmanageable that way.) I’ve been spending more time on the harp lately since my left ear faces away from that one anyway.

About that Boaz Berney August Grenser in 415 …

So … I m-m-m-m-m-m-might have decided to put the 25% downpayment down to secure my place in line. He has a 6- to 8-month waiting period anyway.

I’m just saying.

The thing is, I’m not sure what wood to use. I like grenadilla since it’s kind of in-your-face although not really appropriate for a Baroque flute. Boxwood is not my favorite because I don’t want my flute to turn into a banana over time, and because it’s just too mellow for me. Kingwood is a nice possibility despite being CITES II since according to Berney it’s got some of the brashness of grenadilla but is more flexible in terms of tone, so I could push it into the mellower end where appropriate. If it’s mostly Steve Perry but can be persuaded to sound like Art Garfunkel with sweet-talking and a steak dinner, that’s perfect.

I think I’m going for the kingwood. The next question is whether I want a 440 middle joint as well as a 415. The thing is, I can’t see a reason for me to have a 440 middle joint, but I’m worried that, if I decide to just go with the 415, there will come a time when I will slap myself on the head because I didn’t also get the 440. I just can’t think of what would cause that time to come. I mean, why might I want a 440 middle joint when I’ve already got the Copley, which sounds like a dream in 440?

Okay, I think I just answered that question.

So we’re talking a kingwood 415, and no 440 middle joint.

I have a feeling that the small liphole is going to drive me around the bend. Until I tried to get a sound out of my coworker’s Boehm and she out of my Copley, and we both failed, I hadn’t realized how much impact it made to change the liphole. I figured you just blew across it and something came out.

The embouchure for this wacky thing

It’s really unlike anything else. I can feel a resistance in it, which is nice; that’s what I hated and continue to hate about the recorder is its lack of resistance. Despite my honest desire to like a portable and fully chromatic instrument with no moving parts, I just cannot get past that flabby mouth feel the thing has, and how easy it is to get stuck with undiagnosed leaky fingers. (Plus the total lack of left-handed instruments, which is and will remain an absolute line in the sand for me. I refuse to contort myself for poorly designed technology, where the solution is a simple, cheap parity reversal that was available during the Renaissance and Baroque periods because the classical music world in this century is occupied by a bunch of Medieval fundamentalist pinheads.)

But the kaval’s embouchure is just very different. I’m working on finding it for various groups of notes. It seems to get more pouty for want of a better word as I go lower, even in the first harmonic. However, this means that I can hop notes (from B down to G and then F) and get a feel for how my mouth changes with each hop.

I’m also trying to do long notes, but I’m running out of air, which is very similar to what happened with the flute when I started that. You try to do long tones, but it takes so long to find the blasted note that you don’t have much air left by the time you do. With time, I’m able to find the note quickly on the flute and can do long tones as a result, and they make a world of difference.

So far though, it’s very interesting and challenging, and I’m enjoying it.

Changing where I put my top thumb

I’m trying out something new. I’ve found using the Bb key to be a real pain so far since I usually put my top thumb fairly far from the key to hold up the flute. This means that I’ve had to change my hold pretty noticeably to use the Bb, and this has caused the instrument to shift against my mouth while playing.

It occurred to me that if I put my top thumb against the fulcrum of the Bb key, I could also use it to hold the instrument up and just rock it back and forth to use that key with very little effort. It feels strange, and I still prefer to put it where it was, but I’ll see if this works out okay. I’m not crazy about what it does to T1, T2, and T3, though.

Argh …

My brain refuses to cough up the composer/name of the piece of music used for the backing track of this embroidery video, and it’s driving me bats because I know the whole thing backwards and forwards:

It’s got to be Beethoven. His music is so obviously his. If it sounds like Mozart had five cans of Red Bull on an empty stomach, it’s Beethoven.

If it’s not Beethoven, I will eat my hat, your hat, and any other hat you can find.

Kaval behavior

This is interesting. While this thing is superficially similar to a flute, in terms of acoustics it behaves much more like a trumpet, where you start out on the first harmonic, and your first leap upward is by a fifth. This is not the case with regular transverse flutes, which put you on the fundamental at first, and your first leap upward is by an octave.

It is different from the trumpet in that on the kaval, the fundamental/pedal register sounds much nicer and is used in music. On the trumpet, players will practice getting into the pedal register from time to time to train their embouchures, but it’s never used in music (since it sounds like hippo farts). The fundamental/pedal register on a kaval is apparently called the kabah register, and the notes in this register always have a slight sheen of the first harmonic on them, which makes them sound shimmery. (They’re also very difficult to play since they are unstable, so playing them well is a hallmark of great skill.)

But anyway, the behavior of this thing is interesting. I can also get into all three registers on the headjoint only, but like with most wind instruments, the notes get more and more unstable as the number of covered holes increases. The longer the sounding length of the instrument, the more it wants to hop into the next harmonic up.

Sewn kaval case

I have no idea how long I’ve had this batik in my stash, but I love it and was doing that thing where you buy the most beautiful fabric, and then won’t use it because, “if I use it, then it’ll be gone!”

Well, what’s the point of buying it then?

Anyway, I’m very pleased with it, especially since I did it in my typical fashion for small items: Ruler? What’s that? I’m going to sequester a small section of the pocket on the top flap to hold a roll of PTFE tape, and put a jacket zipper up the sides so it can be rolled and held closed like that, and I will post a picture when that is completed.

I’m also very pleased with the fact that I actually remembered how to use my sewing machine since it’s been forever since I’ve sewn anything. I need to buy machine oil for it, though. I cringe at the idea of having used it after it sat unused for so long, and without cleaning and oiling it first. Power tools tend not to respond well to that sort of neglect.