Dara and I went out on a quest today: to see about getting me my first proper Irish flute!
This was actually a two-stop operation, as it turned out. Our first stop was to visit a guy named Tom in Greenlake who had some flutes for sale, to check them out and see whether they would be appropriate for me. The flutes he’s selling are Skip Healy flutes, and while they sounded lovely, it turned out that the hole placement on them was difficult for my fingers. Dara and I did have a lovely conversation about flutes and about music in general with Tom, though, and he was approving of me wanting to try different flutes before I committed to one.
Also, he had a lovely friendly black cat named Midnight, who after giving me the obligatory kitty inspection, parked right in my lap right before I was trying to take my leave. Apparently my lap? CAT MAGNET. And if anybody in the Seattle environs is in the market for a Skip Healy flute, I’ll be happy to point you in Tom’s direction.
After that, though, we went to plan B, which of course meant going to Dusty Strings. My original intent was to simply walk in and try a few flutes, just to see if any of them liked me; I wasn’t really actively expecting to find one I really liked. But then we got there and I announced what I was looking for to the nice older gentleman at the counter, and he showed me a few of the Casey Burns Folk Flutes. These were all well within my budget, and it turned out that the one made out of Mopane had a really strong voice on him. I also tried one in Boxwood, but wasn’t nearly as impressed with the sound quality of that one. Neither was Dara–and since I had her along for a second opinion, the choice was clear!
Since Dara and I can’t get out of Dusty Strings without the obligatory WOO KIDS IN
CANDY MUSIC STORE run through everything, Dara played with the bouzoukis while I went and got a copy of the Mel Bay Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle, which I’ve been hearing is awesome from multiple directions. I also grabbed a CD by Capercaillie that was on my To Get list, as well as an assortment of various interesting picks (you can never have too many interesting picks), and last but not least, a cute little Renaissance Fife made by Ralph Sweet. The fife’s in applewood, which won out over a couple others for best clarity of tone. And even though this little guy’s really more of a toy, he’s a lot closer in size to my piccolo and therefore quite comfortable to my hands.
The big flute came with a nifty padded cloth case, but the fife didn’t come with anything, and so Dara very kindly agreed to whip together a small padded sleeve for me! She’s got a sewing machine and plenty of material, so it turned out to be very easy.
And now I give you PICS. The fife is shown next to the sleeve Dara made, as well as next to the big flute for scale. Both of these instruments are in D, and I’ve already started trying to work through the various tunes I’ve already practiced, just to figure out where all the fingerings are and to get familiar with their individual voices. Sooner or later, too, these guys will have NAMES.