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How presumptions! Pretend that one can outsmart one’s forefathers!

This Theobald Böhm, who dared change the mechanism and bore of the flute, the Heckel who changed the bassoon into a fagott, this Serge Cordier who invented a new temperament based on false octaves and pure fifths, those famous instrument makers who added three valves to the brass or strengthened the bar in the instruments of the string quartet, this William Dowd who invented a harpsichord that could transpose by a semitone just by sliding the keyboard!

They had a hard time, those revolutionaries, but in the end...

And now some want to change the traverso, this instrument stilted in its historical authenticity!

After having worked on the Böhm flute with M. Bourillon and, later, with Robert Thuillier and the late Jeannine Kachekdjian, the Baroque flute with Barthold Kuijken, the Celtic flute with Matt Molloy and Chris Norman and the Renaissance flute by myself, I dare champion this fifth flute that Ihave discovered thanks to Jean-François Beaudin’s bright idea. I hold this colleague in great esteem because he has studied and measured a large number of original instrument around the world and published his plans for all of us to know.

Let’s come back to the 1670’s: the flute is still cylindrical with six diatonic holes, and this or that maker, Haka or Hotteterre, comes up with the idea of adding a chromatic key, while opting for a conical bore which makes octave fingerings easier, as on the recorder. this flute begins an intimate career, earning its letters patent in the chamber of Louis XIV, thanks to the appointments of Philibert and Descoteaux. No need for a powerful sound, then, and LUlly and Charpentier also use it in melancholy airs of their operas.

Various attempts are then made at increasing the power of this flute: Quantz makes the head-joint 1 mm larger; the conicityis increased, producing a more penetrating sound, with more upper harmonics; keys are added for the semitones, to avoid weak fork fingerings; holes are made broader by Gordon, and later Böhm (1832). But the basic pattern is still inverse conicity, thereby yielding a weak amplitude.

Then, in 1847, this dear Theobald wants to make his new invention more powerful by drawing its inspiration on the researches of Dr. Schafhäult on the Schweizerpfeiff, the cylindrical flute of the 16th and early 17 century. He opts for a new flute with cylindrical bora and a narrow head-joint: “Since I could see no way of improving the lower section of the conical flute which had been in use for more than a century, I radically inverted the proportions by making the head-joint conical and using different proportions, something I had successfully experimented with over thirty years ago.”

And there you have gone full circle: there was nothing against adapting the new bore that Böhm had used for his flute with thirteen keys to the D flute with six holes and one key.

Bravo Jean-François!

(Translated by Paul Cadrin)

Testimonial from Philippe Allain-Dupré