Bamboo flute is a great way to get into music. They are easy for beginners to learn, and are easily adapted to by concert flutists wanting to get into folk flute styles (Celtic, Middle Eastern, East Indian, etc.) But the flute must be in tune, and most bamboo flutes you find are badly out of tune.
Handmade Wooden/Bamboo Flute Demonstration Part 1
In this video I go through and demo the different Keys I make. I compare the intonation of the flutes with a keyboard so you can hear how well in tune they are (A= 440 Hz). Part 1 is a demo of (low pitches to high) the keys Low Bb, B, C, D, Db, E, and F. Part 2 covers the keys F, G, A, high Bb (fife), high C (piccolo) and high D (piccolo). All these flutes will play about a 2 and a half to 3 octave range, and unlike most cheaply made imported bamboo flutes, the higher octaves play in tune with the lower octaves. They also have a much clearer, richer tone, (rivaling much more expensive silver concert, and wooden Irish flutes) and are easier to play.
If you own a bamboo flute, and you’ve tried to play it with other musicians, yet you’ve been unable to find the right notes to play, (you see the furrowed brow… polite people leave the room rather than cover their ears) more than likely, your flute is not even tuned to a particular key (though it may be at least in tune with itself if you are lucky). Most all modern instruments now are meant to be played in standard pitch (A= 440 cycles per second). You will need an instrument tuned to standard pitch if you wish to accompany others.
Handmade Wooden/Bamboo Flute Demonstration Part 2
Next up is an example of one of my F bamboo flutes being played by Zac Leger, the young piper and flutist in Eileen Ivers band. At the age of 22 he plays about 20 different instruments (and owns 2 of mine). He’s also a great guy! He’s accompanied by Diarmaid Hurley on guitar.
Reels on a William Miller bamboo F flute- Zac Leger and Diarmaid Hurley
Here’s another with Zac on one of my E flutes. This is a jig called “The Cat’s Meow”. Please note that most Celtic/Irish musicians play a “D” keyed flute which I also make. I tend to sell the odd key here and there to the accomplished Celtic musician because it’s a less expensive way to have easy access to other keys without spending another $2000.00+ for a well made wooden Irish flute in the odd key. Though my flutes are inexpensive enough for the beginner to afford, I have several professional players using my instruments (some are now being used in the Broadway production of “The Lion King”). Wooden flutes cost much more because the wood must be turned and hollowed out using a lathe. Bamboo is already round and hollow (though the inside must be sanded smooth). Still, one must have a good ear, take careful measurements, and know how to play well to tune the instrument.
Jig on a William Miller E major flute- Zac Leger and Diarmaid Hurley