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Sunday, June 24, 2018

One Month of Flute: Progress So Far

After playing and practicing an hour a day for one month, I decided now would be a good time to give some initial thoughts and suggestions for anybody else considering taking up the instrument. First of all, I need to address the importance of posture.After playing for an hour a day for just the first two days, I got a really bad pain in my left shoulder, back, and side of my neck. I did not immediately connect the pain with my flute playing but eventually realized how holding up the flute used muscles I was not engaging regularly.The pain was from the expansion of muscles that pressed on a nerve. I experimented with some sitting posture with my flute and found that there is a huge difference if I use correct posture, more specifically putting my legs towards the right instead of straight in front of me. Although the flute is not really heavy, holding it up for long periods of time may cause some pain. I thought this was important enough to share in case anybody decided to practice 4 hours a day when just starting out. Additionally, it really is best to ease into it and integrate it into your daily routine rather than sacrifice a large chunk of your day at once.

The other major takeaway I have so far is that I found a couple of books that help with organizing your own lesson plan and practice routines. First off is "Flute For Dummies" which is great for learning the very basics and beginning practice. I am now moving on towards the Trevor Wye practice books, which came highly recommended by several youtube flute channels and provides a clear progression of skill building.

I hope my experience is helpful for anyone out there wanting to learn the flute. I would appreciate any questions to help inspire more content from me! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

FlutePunk: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Boehm

When I was a teenager, I bought a 5 hole ocarina from Songbird Ocarina. I was a big fan of Ocarina of Time, of course, and I had a budding interest in playing music. I did not have the opportunity to participate in school band, because my tiny school did not have a music program after the band director quit. I wanted to play the flute but was a bit intimidated by the key system in concert flutes, plus there was the issue of who would teach me, how would I afford it, and the classical band scene seemed too pretentious anyway, right? So instead of begging my parents to invest hundreds of dollars they did not have available, I bought the $20 ocarina with a range of one octave (12 notes were more than enough to challenge me).

My original ocarina. It was repaired with sugru after a nasty fall.


I had a lot of fun with that ocarina. I played Zelda songs, obviously, as well as Christmas songs, anime theme songs, and popular melodies to anyone who wanted to hear them. After a few months, I seemed to squeeze all I could out of that instrument, when I discovered the sound of the Native American flute. I bought one from a local maker at a pow-wow. This was so meditative, deep, and mellow. It had a limited range, but I loved how it felt to play and the sound was so soothing.

I was not done. Over the course of over a decade, I bought and taught myself to play more flutes from around the world. I bought a Peruvian quena which required me to learn how to make embouchure with my lips. I bought a Chinese xun and a set of shakuhachis that were of similar complexity. I got a Clarke tin whistle that I used to learn harmonics and more breath control. I even tried my hand at making my own instruments, from pvc overtone flutes to 3D printing some Viking-style panpipes

Some panflutes I designed and printed. I painted the right side one.
I recently came across the some youtube channels that discuss Concert Flutes, also known as Boehm style. AKA, those complex ones in orchestra and band. After watching some introductory flute playing videos by JustAnotherFlutist, I decided I was ready to give it a chance, because I was already familiar with many of the concepts and techniques. The keys aren't there for pretentious over-complexity. Instead, they allow a great range of notes in four octaves. In other words, you don't need separate flutes for different keys like in my other instruments. I wanted the range and flexibility. I wanted the deep resonant sound of a big metal pipe. I bought another instrument. You'd be surprised at the low price if you know how much these fancy tubes can cost, plus the reviews made me confident I'd have fun with this!

Glory brand flute in all it's...glory.


So far I've only had the flute for about a week, but I make time to play as much as I can and hope to use it to help with the music theory class I'm taking next fall. For me, music is not a competition or a career choice. It's all about self expression as well as a form of dynamic meditation. Also, I want to write some flutorial content here from what I learn (I've got a tab system in development right now to make a fingering chart for myself).

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Here is a sketch for an arduino program I made that allows mouse control with a joystick and rotary encoder (for the scroll wheel).

The arduino mousecontrol operates on how many pixels it moves, so the mouse moves a lot slower on my big screen mac than it does on my dinky laptop.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Check out this game!

Here's a space based RTS game that uses vector graphics and some interesting choices. It's made by a friend of mine and will launch on kickstarter soon.

http://www.indiedb.com/games/xo

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The DSN12 Tutorial Blog

To anyone seeing this, I started a new blog about how to use a cool little synth app for the 3DS.

Check it out here: http://dsn12tutorial.blogspot.com/p/index.html

Monday, July 14, 2014

Constructed language based on music

Anyone who is close to me knows about my favorite on-going thought experiment to construct a language based on a simple musical pattern. I originally thought a pentatonic scale would be fitting, due to the easily distinguishable tones and limit of only 5 notes. My idea, when I first toyed around with it, was that this was a language made by a tribe of forest dwelling beings who lacked vocal cords but were of the same intelligence as humans. Therefore, I would prefer my language to have a scale that is more natural than the 12 note chromatic.



I have recently discovered a constructed language called Solresol, and a modern revamping of it named Sarus, that uses a 7 note scale.



Solresol note range

My issue with these languages, though, is that they were not explicitly designed with the intention of being completely musical, one such example is that techniques such as trilling were not incorporated. Additionally, the dictionary for these languages is HUGE and follows grammar rules similar to English and French, which I thought was too similar and a bit unweildy for a small tribe with little outside contact. For my basis, I think that Toki Pona is a much more suitable model. Now all I have to do is come up with the notes!

I also decided it was important to have an instrument central to the group. A wind instrument seemed to make the most sense. I own quite a few simple wind instruments such as the ocarina, shakuhachi, tinwhistle, native american flute, and quena. I wanted something unique, possibly playable one-handed. I found some unusual instruments such as the Picco pipe, the koudi, and the tabor pipe. I even considered sawing a recorder in half to see what that sounds like (I might still do that because it would be a cheap experiment). After digging through many Wikipedia pages, I came across the mysterious sounding willow flute. Hear a demo of what it can sound like:




Beautiful, unusual scale. No finger holes. Closeley tied with nature. Potentially playable one handed. Now this is what I've been looking for.