Saturday, October 27, 2007

Flutist or Flautist

Whenever I tell a non-musician that I play the flute, I am immediately asked the million dollar question, “Is it flutist or flautist?” I found an interesting article on Wikipedia to help me answer this question. Thank you, Nancy Toff!!

By the way, I consider myself a FLUTIST!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Naming controversy: 'flautist' vs. 'flutist'

The choice of "flautist" (from the Italian flautista, from flauto, and adopted due to 18th century Italian influence) versus "flutist" is the source of minor dispute among players of the instrument. "Flutist" is the earlier term in the English language, dating from at least 1603 (the earliest quote cited by the Oxford English Dictionary), while "flautist" is not recorded before 1860, when it was used by Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Marble Faun. While the print version of the OED does not indicate any regional preference for either form, the online Compact OED characterizes "flutist" as an American usage.[1]
Richard Rockstro in his three volume treatise The Flute[2] written in England in 1890 uses "flute-player". The US player and writer Nancy Toff, in her The Flute Book, devotes more than a page to the subject, commenting that she is asked "Are you a flutist or a flautist?" on a weekly basis. She says, "Ascribe my insistence either to a modest lack of pretension or to etymological evidence; the result is the same." She describes in some detail the etymology of words for "flute". (She is an editor for Oxford University Press.[1]) She compares OED, Fowler's Dictionary of Modern Usage, Evans' Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage, and Copperud's American Usage and Style: The Consensus. Fowler says "flautist" has displaced "flutist" in usage, though "flautist" is not so popular in the USA. She prefers "flutist" personally and etymologically.[3]

The first edition of the OED lists fluter as dating from circa 1400 and Fowler's Modern English Usage[4] states that "there seems no good reason" why flautist should have prevailed over fluter or flutist. However, according to Webster's Dictionary of English Usage,[5] flautist is the preferred term in British English, and while both terms are used in American English flutist is "by far the more common choice".
James Galway summed up the way many players of the flute feel about "flautist", saying, "I am a flute player, not a flautist. I don't have a flaut, and I've never flauted."

Click here for Fenwick Smith’s take on the subject.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

10 Flute Demonstration RESULTS

This post is a response to THIS BLOG. Watch that one first.

Find out the which flute is which and hear them again! 
Then watch video part 2 to find out winners of the voting and my responses to many of your questions.
If you are interested in learning more details about these flutes, please don't contact me, but contact Burkart Flutes and Piccolos at 978-425-4500 or visit them at
If you want to ask specifics about the instruments in this demo, here are the serial numbers for the flutes I played:
#1 .016 silver (my flute, sorry!) with plat riser
#2 19.5K Gold body 488, head 2027
#3 10 K Gold - body in tape, head 1344
#4 14K soldered, body 446, head 2027
#5 14K drawn, body 07035, head 2027
#6 595 drawn, SOLD
#7 .016 silver (mine) with platinum head # 1979
#8 998 body 459, head 2147
#9 .016 body (mine) with 14K head 2027
#10 595 drawn body sold, 998 head with plt riser 2020

Which flutes did you prefer? Which flutes did I prefer? Could I hear a difference between metals? If so, why? Can we prove that different metals sound different?  
You may find the study SILVER, GOLD, PLATINUM - AND THE SOUND OF THE FLUTE interesting. It “proves” that there is no measurable difference between metals, just players. 

“I found this exercise extremely interesting, both as a flute player and coming from a background in psychology. The fact that overall we were not able to distinguish between the flutes, and that flutes 1 and 10 and also 3 were most voted for, seems to result from the Primary and Recency Effect, aka the Serial-Position effect. Basically we chose the flute at the start (primary) and end (recency) and flute 3 would also fit with the primary, because our brains are just wired to remember those best. It's scientifically proven that information at the beginning and end of a event is best recalled. So I found myself not surprised by the results from this regard and predicted 1 and 10 would get the most votes before hearing your results. This may sound like utter rubbish but I do feel that it's an interesting, possible explanation which must have contributed to the outcome in some way at least.”
- Eoghan, Ireland

Friday, October 5, 2007

Cultural Creatives and the Future of Classical Music

In a recent interview in Fanfare, the talented flutist and arranger Robert Stallman made a fascinating observation, “there’s a quiet revolution going on; there’s a growing public that’s hungry for something genuine and inspiring—something that goes deeper. So you have these “cultural creatives” tuning out what big media promotes, because they want something personal, beautiful, and real. And of course chamber music is all those things and more. It’s rich with worlds of meaning that are absolutely life giving, sustaining, and uplifting for us on a daily basis. And in time more and more people will be able to find it on the Web where you don’t have the old set of “gatekeepers.” 
This is exactly what is all about and I have been thrilled to share this vision with all of you, my fellow “cultural creatives.”
Photo: Robert Stallman
Hear me perform Stallman’s arrangement of the Carmen Fantasy