Shakulute Anyone? Play a Flute like a Recorder

Discussion in '... And Others' started by Gandalfe, Jan 26, 2008.

  1. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I purchased this Shakulute which is Bamboo Head Joint for Silver Concert Flute

    By Monty H. Levenson of Tai Hei Shakuhachi, it achieves many of the tonal dynamics of a Shakuhachi and adds a new pallet of interesting tonal colors, for concert silver flutes. Using the flute fingerings you already know, you can play the flute in a vertical forward direction. I should have this purchase sometime next week to play with.

    Read more...


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    Last edited: Dec 11, 2014
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  2. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Interesting. I can say, from the MP3s, that I hear a lot of regular flute sound. It also sounds a bit hard to control.

    I'll be interested in hearing about your experiences with it!
     
  3. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I expected to hear a more recorder like sound and liked the hybrid sound that sounded more like a flute to my ears than a recorder.
     
  4. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Well the shakulute arrived but it was harder for me to play than the flute. So the maker of the shakulute is making me a recorder-like mouthpiece for my Gemeinhardt flute.

    It should be very interesting and I'll try to remember to report back when it is finished. But so far the specs are silver joint with ebony grenadilla wood mouthpiece. Adjustable thumb piece for the right hand. Instrument played in the vertical (vs. horizontal) position.

    Why? Because I am spending so much time learning to play the clarinet and polish my saxophone playing that I couldn't really justify the extra time on flute. Oh, and that 50 hour a week job doesn't help much either.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2014
  5. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Tell Steve that he's working you too hard and you need a vacation.

    Looking at the pics of the folks playing the thing, I can understand that the embochure is difficult. However, if you can get a recorder-type headjoint, I'd almost be interested in getting one. However, I think a used Yamaha WX-7 and a used sampler are a tad cheaper ....
     
  6. David D.

    David D.

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    I wonder if I could make my own Shakulute headjoint? Or purchase one in person?

    (1) I wonder how hard it would be to make my own Shakulute headjoint, in order to inexpensively try one out. I would need a shakuhatchi flute to saw in half, and a cheap, (perhaps damaged) conventional metal headjoint from which to cut a tenon. I would also need a circular metal plate to use to mount the tenon to the shakuhatchi piece. Any thoughts regarding technical or construction considerations?

    (2) Will there be Shakulute headjoints for sale at the National Flute Association Convention in Washington D.C. August 13 -16, 2015?

    David D.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2014
  7. David D.

    David D.

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    Recorderute headjoint

    I am eager to hear what your recorderute sounds like. Please post an MP3 or two. I would like to hear how much of a woody tone it imparts.

    A shakuhatchi embrasure is entirely different from a classical silver Boehm flute embrasure (I play both). A shakuhatchi facilitates a lot of tonal flexibility because it is a true flute, coupled to a human embrasure. You can bend notes, change harmonics and timbre, and create a variety of effects. A recorder, on the other hand, is technically a whistle, so its tonal flexibility is primarily from the fingering and strength of breath only.

    If you stick with the shakulute, you will eventually develop facility with it, but it takes time. If you really hate it, I might be in the market for a used shakuflute headjoint ;-) .

    David D.
     
  8. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Hi, David! Welcome to the forum.

    I'm not picking on you, but thanks for the "embrasure" spelling. I promise not to talk about how you need to have more support ....
     
  9. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I pulled out my Shakulute, it's been years, and the sound is not very robust. If I blow loud in the chalmeau range, the pitch jumps an octave. It's fun to play with, but now in my busiest music performance season of the year I really don't have time. I did add a picture below.
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  10. David D.

    David D.

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    Embouchure

    Hi Pete,

    Ooops! <LOL> Sorry. So much for spell checkers. Of course! "Embouchure" from the French "la bouche" ;-o Out of curiosity, I did look up embrasure though. It is an arrow-slit or other such opening in a stone wall or building. It also has a dental meaning: the "V" shape between the biting surfaces of adjacent teeth. Not that I will ever need to know that...

    David
     
  11. David D.

    David D.

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    Wood vs. other materials

    Thanks for the photos, Gandalfe. I was envisioning bamboo, which is the only type of shakuhachi that I have played. My bamboo shakuhachi sounds very woody. I do know what other materials would sound like. I will have to look for some recordings on the web. (My recorders are also wooden; I am a fan of woody tones).

    My Boehm flute is solid silver, which I also love, but for a different feeling and different types of music. I have also played brass singing bowls, multi-metal singing bowls and crystal singing bowls, and I was struck by the dramatic tone differences produced by different materials. The one exception is a standard, transverse, wooden headjoint that I tried on a silver Boehm flute, which produced tones similar to those of all-metal flutes (with less control though). I was underwhelmed at that difference. I think I had been expecting more of a wooden flute tone.

    David
     
  12. kymarto

    kymarto Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I can't help myself, I have to post here. I also play various flutes--have had wooden Boehms, now have a bunch of flutes in both silver and plated. I have quite a few shakuhachi that I have collected over the years living in Japan, as well as an Okuralo--a silver plated vertical Boehm flute with shakuhachi-type head (rare, made for a few years in Japan between 1930-1940). I studied shakuhachi making for a few years as well, and have made a few. Finally, I collected a bunch of temple bells in Japan and a large number of singing bowls in India and Bangladesh.

    There is something that needs to be understood. The effects of materials in bells and in flutes are completely different. Bells are idiophones--they make their sound by being struck and the sound is produced by the vibration of the material itself. Flutes are aerophones--the sound is almost exclusively made by the vibration of the air column. The material serves only to define the air column.

    The parameters that define the flute sound, pertaining to the material (if it is reasonably rigid)j, are basically only two: bore geometry and bore smoothness. I know that this is a controversial topic, but scientific evidence is quite strong that this is the case. I don't know, for instance, if your shakuhachi is jiaru or jinashi. "Jiaru" refers to the interior of the bore being lined with a kind of putty (ji). Jinashi means that the interior is unputtied, although it can and usually is still coated with lacquer. Jiaru flutes tend to have a much brighter and more powerful sound. Jinashi flutes are generally more "woodly" and less focused. This has nothing to do with the material itself, rather the fact that the jinashi flute has a less smooth interior, and because the irregularities inside the bore tend to inhibit the higher harmonics.

    I had for a time a Rudall Carte wooden Boehm flute, and also a Haynes wooden flute. They played almost identically to any silver flute. Studies have shown that that wooden flutes are slightly less efficient (on the order of 2 dB) than similar metal instruments because of micropores in the wood itself--if the bore is polished and unsealed. If the bore shows marked grain patterns, then you start to lose more efficiency, which is differential, affecting more the high harmonics--this the "woodier" sound.

    This is all terribly complicated by the effects of small differences in bore geometry, which can have major effects on how the instrument plays, responds and sounds, whatever the material. All kinds of factors, including player expectations and just the feel of the instrument in the hands, get mixed up in our impressions and experiences playing different instruments.
     
  13. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I am living in fear, as I should be passing through our nation's capital on those very dates. If you hear of a mugging during that time, it will probably be me, waylaid by a crew of long-tressed, thin and stylish, head-bobbing classical flautists...
     
  14. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    FTFY. :p
     
  15. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    When there is an association of alto clarinet player, the Apocalypse will have occurred and we will all be gone from the face of the planet.

    Besides, just try bobbing your head when playing an alto clarinet chained around your neck...
     
  16. David D.

    David D.

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    re: Idiophones and aerophones

    Thank you, Kymarto, for joining this thread. Your information corroborates what I suspected. When you listen to a recorded flute, you can pretty much identify its type - a Boehm flute, a Native American flute, a shakuhachi, a recorder (which is not truly a flute), etc. Each type of instrument has its own unique geometry and unique air path, resulting in a unique timbre (in addition to its own unique playing styles).

    With Boehm flutes, the sound is further refined by the materials. A silver flute sounds a lot different than a silver-plated flute.

    In addition to materials, I find that the design of the headjoint itself (especially the lip plate and the embouchure hole) significantly changes the sound and the flute's playing characteristics. You point out that flutes are aerophones, and the headjoint shapes the air flow at a critical point. So a shakulute headjoint has a dominant effect on the sound characteristics of the flute. The recordings of shakulutes sound primarily like shakuhachis.

    You mentioned differences in how the interior of a shakuhatchi is finished. That is helpful information. The interior of my own shakuhatchi is un-coated, dry wood. To play it, I first swab it with bore oil until the interior is shiny.

    I assume, then, that if I am looking for a woody sound in a shakulute headjoint, I should consider one with an un-coated interior.

    I hope that I eventually get the opportunity to try a shakulute headjoint. I would not purchase a standard headjoint without trying it out first, and that is certainly the case for something as different as a shakulute headjoint.

    David
     

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