KIM & SYMPATHIA
JOIN THE MAILING LIST
The pictures of the flute are mostly of the mechanisms that make up my flute. However, what is most important to the flute is the voicing. Inside the flute are dimensions that have a geat effect on the playability and tuning of the instrument. Getting all these things in balance has been the most time-consuming element of the creation of the flute. The embouchure hole is a very important part of these elements. The angle of the strike wall, the degree and shape of the undercutting at the sides and even the back wall, and the corners, all have different effects. What they effect is things like the volume, the tone, the tuning, and the playability - meaning, the way in which the flute responds to the different ways that the player manipulates the air stream. Other physical structures of concern are the position of the cork from the embouchure hole, and a narrowing of the bore towards the mouthpiece which tunes the higher notes, and also effects the other said elements. Getting all these perameters in balance is the great difficulty of making an excellent flute.
Creating the embouchure hole required an enormous amount of experimentation. Inspiration was taken from the Bohem (silver orchestral) flutes, Irish flutes, Japanese shakuhachi, South American quena/quenacho, and African Tambin. In each of these types of flutes, skilled flutemakers are aware of the different ways the embouchure hole can be created. I have learned a great deal from these masters and am greatful for the books they have written and the questions they have answered.
I had many ideas about how I would make the Aurora flute. I wanted it to be low-pitched, have an earthy tone quality and yet tonal flexibility. I also wondered if I could attach a couple of strings on the side, and maybe use a little altoids can as a resonator, something like a diddly-bow, made and used by musicians in the southern U.S. when they couldn't afford a guitar - a suprisingly good sounding instrument. With experimentation, the idea grew and became six strings - three on the front and three on the back of the flute. The far end of the flute passes through a resonator box. Because I am most interested in tonal variety, the resonator box is two sided. One side is wood and the other is skin. Technically this is like a banjo but it doesn't sound like one. The wood resonating plate gives a tone somewhat reminiscent of a dulcimer. The strings are tuned with moveable nuts, so the notes are set before I begin to play. This gives me the option to reach a few notes to give variation in my playing, a few simple chords, and even the strings can ring in sympathy with the flute playing, giving a lovely little halo of sound after a note or phrase on the flute.
The features on either end of the flute is to serve as a reinforcement of the resonator box at the end points. The hole to allow the flute to pass through the resonator created very thin and weak spots. So, these pieces were added as reinforcements The strings pass through the little windows.