Tuesday, 24 September 2013

C Gerock Ivory Piccolo

         This lovely looking all ivory pic was posted a few places on the web. No price was recorded. I wonder if it ever sold or what became of it. It looked a gorgeous instrument.

Here was one posting for it on Chiff.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Rose-Morris on Chiff

Here is a nice piccolo for sale from Lorenzo on Chiff and Fipple.

It marked Rose-Morris 1978, ebonite and nickel.

He has priced it at 110 euros.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Jim Ward, Kilfenora-Corcomroe Ceili Band, 1946

          I came across this old photo of the legendary Kilfenora in the forties. Third in from the left is a fellow holding a piccolo. I think the piccolo player is Jim Ward. Oddly enough, Jim Ward has a Wikipedia page here. There are bits of info about the man. I was immediately thinking of Jim Ward's the jig but thought that was named after a banjo player. The wiki suggests it is indeed the same Ward, having switched to banjo later on.

T: Jim Ward's
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj

It has also been suggested that in this youtube here is the man himself lilting the jig that bears his name.

Sounds from Kevin Rietmann's Collection

The following was sent to me from Kevin. It's nice to hear a range of piccolos from different countries. Earlier on I posted photos of Kevin's collection. It's nice to hear them as well.

Hi Patrick,

Here's a recording of some of my squeaky little guys:https://app.box.com/s/9wdxl98egmfes2j6euxy Feel free to post this link and my observations on your blog. Not all are in the best of operating order and I just flew into whatever tune popped into my head and don't play flutes much any more either so there's your heap of caveats. 

I announce each before playing it, here's the list in order of appearance:

George Cloos 
V Koelhert & Sons
Boosey & Co
D Noblet
HF Meyer

The Koelhert, IMPROVED, and Boosey are working well. I gave my better Cloos picc (I have/had two) to a very talented young local fluter with the promise of payment in the future, he'll do great things with it I'm sure. The Cloos on the recording has its head entirely jacked in metal, I was always struggling to plug up all the leaks, not always with success. The NACH and HF Meyer are tricky to play without bumping into their keys and squeaking, the Noblet just isn't padded correctly, it's the one with keywork to cover the fingerholes. I suspect its intonation is a bit diabolical anyway, though. I'd like to have a good French picc, my Martin Freres 8 key flute is by far the easiest transverse flute I've ever played - including Olwell, Grinter, Gemeindhart, etc. Those were all great players but the Freres just speaks without any effort whatsoever. A picc like that would be grand. 

The recording's of interest to hear the wide spectrum of tone makers from different nations had in mind, the English flutes as you'd expect have larger holes and a reedier sound, the German style ones (including the Cloos) have smaller bores and holes and a sweeter or darker sound. The very low pitch Kohlert has a surprisingly dirty tone, though. The NACH MEYER has by far the thickest body and sweetest sound. Different piccs have varying degrees of noise in the blowing, too. The English ones are a lot louder, as you'd expect. Most play close to A=440. It's harder to find full size flutes made outside of England or France that are in pitch, but I seemed to have better luck with the piccolos, it seems.

All the best,

Thanks to KR

On eBay

This piccolo is marked Carl Fischer. It looks like a typical German eBay piccolo but is advertised as being fully overhauled that's why I thought I'd mention it. The Buy it Now is set at around 150 dollars.

The second is an anonymous piccolo marked made in Germany. I just thought it looked unusual for a German piccolo with the English band flute like bulge. The starting price on this is a high 500 dollars. It has the name of a confederate Civil War veteran hand engraved on the bands. I saw many a flute for sale in antique shops and flea markets. Sellers were always trying to attach some Civil War provenance to them.

Ok the last is not a piccolo but a band flute, flageolet combination instrument marked Improved London B. it sold a few weeks ago for about 50 pounds. I meant to bid and forgot.

Walt Sweet, Maker

      Above is Walt Sweet's  latest design, the Umbra, which can be purchased with a whistle head as well. It is designed as a mini Irish flute  (piccolo) with a particularly strong 1st and 2nd octaves.
I asked Walt a few questions and tell us a little about the piccolo in Contradance music in New England. Here is his reply:
I grew up in a drumcorps family in Connecticut, where everyone was expected to play the fife or the drum. That activity is a culture behind the scenes from Massachusetts to New Jersey and beyond, connecting thousands of participants across generations. Of course there are legitimate fifers and drummers elsewhere. I'm talking about the narrow, straightbore, ±Bb fife that plays loud outdoor music in the 2nd and 3rd octaves. The repertoire and performance practices are associated with rope-tension drums and rudimental drumming, whose roots are traceable to the 1830s and before. We typically wear "Colonial" uniforms and march in firemen's parades to raise money for the corps to buy drums, uniforms and refreshments (!). The contemporary repertoire has a small handful of tunes that can be documented to manuscripts of the Revolutionary Period, a fair number of modern compositions in the traditional style, and much of the repertoire dates from the latter 1800s. Only some of the music heard today was ever official military music, the rest being folk tunes, 'pop music' and songs of a bygone era. Being its own scene, only some of the music and musicians overlap other genres. 

When I was 13 years old, I wanted one of those new-fangled 10-hole fifes, but the folks couldn't justify the expense. In response, I got hold of a Cooperman maple fife and used a pistol drill to drill the extra holes for accidentals. I also used steel wool on a gun-cleaning rod to smooth the bore. That was the beginning of my life as an instrument-maker in 1971. Of course, I like to think I've graduated to more sophisticated methods and designs now. 

When Dad was a teenager, he had wanted to become a square-dance caller, and thought that the fife (or some manifestation) would be good in the band. We're talking about a diatonic piccolo in D with a large bore, and this was his first type of instrument offered in 1973. The bore at 1/2" favors the low octaves for playing in the same way as an Irish flute or pennywhistle, not for drumcorps or modern bands. For that reason, I prefer to call it a "High Flute." With some refinements, the UMBRA in polymer and 15/32" (12mm) bore is essentially the same. The standard Boehm piccolo has an 11mm bore, good for playing into the 3rd octave where it can transcend 76 trombones and 110 cornets. 

By 1974, we were playing for contradances, using the traditional fiddle repertoire. Many dance series were active in the 1970s in New England, connected directly or indirectly with Dudley Laufman. On the scene with me at the time were Chuck Malloch, Dave Cantieni and Ron Grosslein, all good players. Deanna Stiles is prominent and still active, but on the standard Boehm piccolo. Other flute players have been known to double on the piccolo or HiD fife. I'm more likely to see these instruments in contradance bands or at the New England Folk Festival than at the local Irish session. 

The UMBRA in HiD is really a modern invention, with little historic precedent. I have designed it using my years of experience in designing similar instruments. In the future I'll make another model with a bigger bore to give a little more dynamic headroom. Many of today's flute makers also make, or can make piccolos. I'll leave it to others to weigh-in on that issue. Right now I'm working on DULCINEA, a Boehm flute in F above C, whose compass more closely matches the range of the 
violin. This way, I'll play everything the fiddles play, especially in the extended range below and low D and above high B (into fiddle's 3rd position, etc.).

Walt Sweet

The Sweets were just down the road from me growing up, in Holyoke, Ma. A visited their shop a good few times over the years. Ralph helped me out a few times doing emergency repairs. 

Big thank you to the Sweets.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Gallowglass Ceili Band


         Here  is a clip I found on youtube of Mick Dempsey playing piccolo with the Gallowglass Ceili Band. Mick normally played sax. I am assuming the piccolo is a Boehm system. Loads of trills and bouncing around the melody here as well. Would like to hear more with the sax.