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xenharmonic (microtonal wiki)
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Playing microtones on a concert flute is as simple as rotating the head plate towards or away from your lips (
twisting against the body!) to decrease or increase the effective length. Increasing the distance sharpens the note, and vice versa. This requires extremely-minute precision and fine muscle memory for instant execution. You may also need to change your embouchure to avoid whisper tones.
For example, suppose you want to play a tone of 449 hertz (A4+35¢). The closest note in the 12 tone tempered scale is A4 at 440 hertz, so you would need to sharpen this note by approximately a sixth-tone, or 35 cents. You would accomplish this by rotating the head plate away from your lips. This technically increases the effective length of the flute, which physics dictates would normally flatten a note, though contrary to common sense it does the opposite.
Additionally, some flutes come with holes in the keys ("ring keys") to facilitate quarter tone use. However, I do not recommend you purchase this type of flute unless if you have a desire to play in
. These holes allegedly change the tone-color, which might be considered an undesirable side effect.
Above: a hand-made PVC flute tuned to 7 EDO, which can also play many intermediate notes of 14 EDO with cross-fingerings.
The flute was completed in under 12 hours and required under 1 USD of raw materials. One could feasibly hope to make multitudes of these inexpensive flutes for every EDO or other tuning scheme.
Eva Kingma and the quarter-tone flute
- video demonstration of a modified flute able to play quartertones
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