400Hz!

 

This page discusses my original pitch traverso copies.The issue of pitch for one keyed flutes more in general is discussed in a separate page on this web site (pitch).

The main points there are:
-there was no standard in the eighteenth century
-we chose in the 20th century 415 and 392 because it is half a tone and a whole tone below 440 and therefore gives a possibility to shift the keyboard of a harpsichord to go from one pitch to the other. So one harpsichord could be used in principle for 440, 415 and 392 Hz. This is simplified of course because it especially works if the harpsichord is equal tempered. The conservatory could this way save money because it did not need more harpsichords. Basically the choice of 415 and 392 was for money reasons.

However, the original traverso first half of the eighteenth century had mostly a pitch around 400Hz. Also if there were many middle joints the most played usually was somewhere around 400Hz.
So for instance 400Hz, 398Hz, 405 Hz, 408 Hz were possibilities.
The second half of the eighteenth century this changes.
Where first half of the eighteenth century warmth of the instrument was a basic property, in the second half of the eighteenth century brilliance becomes more important. The pitch goes up because it is easier to have this brilliance at a higher pitch.
The bible on pitch is of course: The story of “A”. [1].

Changing a traverso that originally has a pitch of around 400 to 415 (or slightly higher as is more practical) usual does not make a better instrument than the original at the original pitch. Often the 415 instrument really lost quality in comparison with the original. 400 to 415 is quite a step.
I believe that we should go back to original pitches or at least have a new standard of 400 Hz. This would make life nicer for us makers and most important give the traverso player many more nice instruments. A number of well know players has the same opinion nowadays. Of course, harpsichord players may not become happier with this….

Now, it has to be mentioned that different players will easily play three Hz different on the same instrument. So in the following the pitches I mention are what I think they are and others think about the same.

The 415 instruments I make I try to make after instruments that originally have a 415 or close to 415 pitch (except for the Tassi) or at least a good middle joint close to 415.
Let us have a look at what I make that way. Below there also is a list of traverso I make on original pitch around 400!

The Beukers has originally three middle joints, one high one that does not work at all and probably was changed from a low one. Then a 408 and a 415 joint. They both work very well but the 408 is clearly the originally preferred one.
My Palanca and Kirst 415 are second half eighteenth century. The Palanca is originally even quite a bit higher than 415.
The first Wijne original is a little bit below 415 and needed only a slightly shorter middle joint.
The second Wijne is very interesting in this respect. It has a 400 and a 413 joint. The 400 makes a singing superb instrument. However, the 413 is amazingly good and I have made it a bit higher giving a really nice instrument (so they say).
Then there is the Naust, 400Hz. I make it at 400Hz. I tried making it at 415 but it looses so much of the original marvellous instrument that I gave up.
The Rippert I make also at 400 Hz. I do have a 392 version but the original pitch one is nicer.
The Tassi original also is 400. I have been able to make a 392 and a 415 that both are very good but different from the original.
Then there is the Kirst 440/430. Simply original pitches nothing else. End eighteenth century of course.
Haka, comments not necessary, see [2]

So at around original pitch I make:
-Naust (early eighteenth century)
-Wijne 2 (around 1730)
-Rippert (late 17th century but very early three piece)
-Tassi (mid eighteenth century)
-Beukers (at 408, about 1730)

and the Haka not to forget, about 370Hz.

As good as I can they are copies of the original without changes. I may mention that I do my very best to copy the original mouth hole as precisely as I can.

[1] The story of “A”, Bruce Haynes, Scarcrow Press ISBN 0-8108-4185-1
[2] THE RENAISSANCE FLUTE, Kate Clark&Amanda Markwick, OUP, ISBN9780190913335

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