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Correct Fingering For C2 On Flute (fife) ?


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#1 flint

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 15:39

Dear Flute Players,

I have just started on the Yamaha fife (YRF-21) and I can play C2 (actually C3 on the fife) in 2 ways.

Either by fingering C2 '0 | X00 | 000X' or by fingering C1 'X | XXX | XXXX' and overblowing to the next octave (first harmonic).

The fingering notation I use here is 'Thumb | Left Hand | Right Hand' (X = closed, 0 = open).

When playing the phrase G1 - A1 - B1 - C2, the C2 fingering is quite convenient because I only have to move my left thumb to pass from B1 to C2.

However, when playing the phrase E2 - C2 - D2 - E2, I much prefer the C1 fingering with overblowing because with the C2 fingering I have to move 5 fingers instead of 1 compared to the C1 fingering.

Since E2 is played anyway with the E1 fingering and overblowing to the next octave I wonder whether the tone color of overblown C1 would be a closer match to E2 than the standard C2 fingering.

Now my question is whether the correct fingering for C2 depends on the melodic context as I described above or should always be played with the same standard C2 fingering '0 | X00 | 000X'.

More generally I would like to know whether the choice of the fingering is determined by convenience (moving as less fingers as possible in any given situation) and/or the homogeneity of tone color when moving from one note to the other (successive overblown notes might blend better melodically).

My question concerns the fife as well as the regular flute.
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#2 Fran*Piano

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 16:31

I'm afraid I'm not a flautist and therefore can't help, but I just wanted to say welcome to the forums, Flint smile.gif
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#3 Flossie

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 19:07

The fingering for C' on the flute (the C immediately above the middle line of the treble clef) is RH 1st finger (no thumb) and LH Eb key.

Overblowing the fingering for middle C gives you a harmonic of that note, rather than C'. These sound similar, but they are not the same because they are based on different scales.

You should not be overblowing to change octaves (it will create a lot of problems for you later and will hamper your tone development). You should be changing octaves using your jaw, embouchure and the angle of the airstream. smile.gif (You shouldn't overblow if you are playing harmonics correctly either, but I'm not going to go into that because it will make things sound too complicated).
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#4 flint

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Posted 13 March 2010 - 08:25

Hi Fran. Thank you for your kind words. Nice to meet you.
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#5 flint

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Posted 13 March 2010 - 08:38

Hi Flossie. Nice to meet you and thanks for the information.

I will follow your advice and use the standard C2 fingering in all situations from now on. No shortcuts anymore smile.gif

I've only started on the fife (actually more an open-hole piccolo) 2 weeks ago and I now fully understand why it takes so many years to learn to play the flute really well. It does take incredible skill. But it's also a lot of fun.


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#6 Misti

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Posted 14 March 2010 - 22:26

Crumbs I'm puzzled by this.

I have never played a fife with a thumb hole. But from the description of your fingerings, it seems yours does. So this mean it uses something more akin to recorder or flute fingering than fife fingering? Fife fingering as I know it, generally uses the same patterns as a penny whistle, and the instrument has just 6 holes...

Okay, found a webpage that gives a little clarification on this:
http://www.saundrecs.co.uk/fifes.htm

The reason this matters, is that on a true fife, you would always 'overblow' (so to speak) to get into the next octave up, and hence a fingering pattern such as you describe would be perfectly corect.

On the recorder-flute-fife-cross that you seem to be playing, I'd guess that Flossie is right. My suspicion is that your overblown C2 sounds a bit muffled and possibly a little flat compared to the 'official' fingering. Without having one about to play its hard to tell, or give a properly informed answer; this is based on the fact that on a normal flute and on a recorder, playing C2 in this way would not sound good. Alternative fingerings are, however, incredibly useful and shouldn't be completely dismissed. In a fast passage no-one'll ever tell if you slip in something a little unconventional because it sits easier under your fingers. My best advice to you is therefore, to use your own ears and judgement. If the note sounds weak, muffled, flat or sharp, give it a miss. If you honestly can't detect a difference, then go for it. At the same time though, you probably don't want to start using the long fingering as your default when sightreading!
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#7 flint

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 11:21

Hi Tamsin

Thanks for the excellent advice. It's really what I needed to know.

Actually, I started on the fife (mini flute) about 2 weeks ago but I plan to move on to a real flute after I (hopefully) develop some solid basic playing skills.

The first few days I had a hard time getting any sound at all out of the fife but now I have memorized the standard fingerings from C1 to G2 and I am able to make it through a number of simple tunes.

The fingerings for the diatonic notes are exactly the same as on the flute.

However, the only chromatic fingering that is the same as on the flute is the one for C#2/Db2 (0 | 000 | 000X). I think that is also one of the most tricky fingerings on the flute because it makes balancing the flute a real challenge.

To practice difficult fingering combinations I hold the fife upright on my right knee and just work my fingers. This way I can make sure I don't lift my fingers too much off the holes and that I keep my hands in the most natural position possible.
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