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The new flute design of Jean-François Beaudin is extremely interesting. Jean-François has spent his life studying and thinking about traversos (that is, historical cross-flutes) and is an excellent maker of copies; his tuning is particularly good, and he is renowned for his exemplary drawings and measurements. His own design, as I understand it, blends the Quantz-type traverso with wide-bore Indian flutes. I have heard it played on several occasions. It combines the tone and tuning of a traverso (cross fingerings still have their characteristic sound) with an astoundingly powerful sound and the booming low register one associates with the Boehm flute. This instrument is a challenge to one’s historical philosophy. Normally you don’t get something for nothing on woodwinds, but Jean-François doesn’t seem to have paid for the difference in volume. How is he cheating? Hautboy players beware, this flute might sometimes drown you out; it could be dangerous in the wrong hands.

April 29th, 2005

Commentary from Bruce Haynes