"What is the difference between all these
Folkers & Powell flutes are
modeled on examples by flute makers working between about 1685 and about
1815. The music written during this period was of many different kinds,
and while some of the flutes are usable for music of more than one variety,
others are more specialized and suited to a smaller range of styles.
"Which is the best flute to play J. S.
It depends. Bach wrote
flute music in several different styles over a long period.
At the moment the model most people like for early eighteenth-century
German flute music is the Jacob Denner. That's because as
well as having the right "feel", its tone is robust, its intonation
is reliable, and it plays at a=415 cps, among other pitch
options. The pitch of a=415, though perhaps not the commonest
in Bach's experience, is convenient for modern use because
it's an equal-tempered semitone below a=440. Bach also wrote
particular pieces, such as the E major and Musical Offering
sonatas, for the Quantz flute.
"Can I have a flute that will play both
at 415 and 440?"
Yes, either a Grenser or Palanca
with 2 corps de rechange and a foot-register. Check them out under 415/440
"Why can't I have a Denner at a=440, or
a Grenser at a=392?"
We do our best to make our flutes
play like original instruments. Pitch is an important factor in how the
flute sounds and feels to play. To make a Denner play at a=440, or a Grenser
play at a=392, we would have to redesign it, destroying its integrity
and special character, and turning it into something invented by us. We
think it's better to choose a flute which was originally meant to play
at the pitch you need.
"What is a foot-register?"
A foot-register is a telescoping
adjustable foot-joint, for making adjustments in tuning when changing
"What is a screw-cork?"
A screw-cork is a simple mechanism
in the head-joint for making adjustments to the position of the cork,
useful when changing middle joints.
"Which is your favorite flute?"
Er, it depends on the music! Also,
different people have different favorites because not everybody blows
the same way or has the same taste. If you're having trouble deciding
which model will be best for you, send us e-mail--we'll be glad to help.
"How does a boxwood flute sound different
from one in ebony?"
Any answer to this question only
means anything if you are comparing two otherwise "identical" instruments
in different woods. If you compared a boxwood Denner with an ebony Lot,
for instance, the diffence in the designs themselves would be far, far
greater than any difference in the wood. The best way to find out the
difference is play them yourself. Many people find that a boxwood flute
is more suited for chamber music because of the way it blends with other
instruments, while ebony has a more cutting sound, very good for orchestral
work and concertos. But people use both woods for all kinds of playing,
and it all comes down to personal preference in the end.
"I've heard that ebony cracks easily.
Is this true?"
We would like to answer "no" but
in fact over the years we have had a few ebony flutes back in the shop
for crack repairs. Ebony flutes rarely warp or become oval, but rapid
extremes of temperature and humidity sometimes will cause an ebony flute
to crack. You can minimize the risk with careful break-in and regular
oiling. Folkers & Powell's unmatched guarantee
should remove any anxiety about having an ebony flute if that's what you
"How long does it take to make a FOLKERS
& POWELL flute?"
A one-keyed flute takes about 15
hours, spread over a minimum of three years (however we do a lot of the
work in advance so that we can deliver each model quickly when we receive
an order for it). Keyed flutes take twice or three times as many hours.
We don't count the time spent on research, experiment, office work and
record-keeping, etc., which takes up the rest of our waking hours!
"Why do I have to send my flute back after
6 months for a check-up?"
By the time we make a flute out
of it, a piece of wood is no longer technically "alive", yet the wood
will continue to expand and contract from seasonal changes of temperature
and humidity, from travel-related climate changes and from having moist,
warm breath moving through it when you're playing. During the first few
months of playing on your new F&P flute, the wood will gradually become
more stable, moving less with each successive playing session. After about
6 months the bores of most flutes will be slightly smaller than they were
when they were new and unplayed. You may or may not notice this as it
occurs, but the sound can become slightly closed and stuffy, and intonation
may deteriorate somewhat, especially changes in purity of octaves. When
you send the flute for its check-up we re-ream the bore to put it back
to the original dimensions, which corrects these problems. At that time
we can also make any other small adjustments to make your flute play its
best. After re-reaming a new flute often has a noticeably bigger and more
"Do I really have to oil my Folkers & Powell flute with raw linseed oil? I read in a book that
There is no "best" oil for all woodwind instruments because they are not all finished the same way. Folkers & Powell flutes are finished with a raw linseed oil varnish that simply needs refreshing from time to time.The most effective oil to use for this purpose is the same product that formed the varnish. Raw linseed oil is easy to find in small quantities at art supply stores and on the web. But you are of course under no obligation to follow our recommendations.
"What do you mean by a 'copy'"?
Good question! Every musical instrument
is unique, really, and its individual spirit cannot be captured, not even
by magic. In just the same way, it's impossible to give a truly "historical"
musical performance. Still, we think a good way to prepare for an "authentic"
execution of a piece is to try to understand everything about the music,
the composer's work and life, and the appropriate instrument, technique
and performance practice.
We try as flute makers to reproduce the playing qualties
original instruments have. Because we're players and makers, we
know that the only way to get close to this is to be extremely
scrupulous in reproducing their dimensions. We don't as a rule deliberately
alter the pitch, tuning or tone of originals, but work to understand their
designs, and to replicate them faithfully. This is not to say we always
make slavish or exact copies: sometimes, such as when originals are in
poor condition, are altered, or provide a range of slightly different
models to choose from, we have decided to appropriately combine information
from several sources. In these cases, all such information is historical--we
have not made any of it up.
We choose the models for our instruments using the criteria
of professional flutists and flutemakers: their qualities of sound, response
and intonation seem to us outstandingly good--some of them are of extraordinary
historical importance too. Most likely, many of these original flutes
are rare even by eighteenth century standards: they were made by brilliant
artists, often in a family tradition of musical instrument making that
had lasted for generations. Their instruments satisfied the most discriminating
and demanding musicians of the times: obviously they knew more about their
requirements than we do. Not all the instruments we copy are at convenient
pitches for modern use, and some work according to special intonation
systems not much used today. We make them because they can teach players
as well as us, the makers, about the sounds flutists and makers centuries
ago strove for and were familiar with.
That's our reason for making, playing and studying these
remarkable historical instruments. Our respect for their integrity gives
us a commitment to making each of our flutes in the spirit of its original
to the best of our ability.