This unassuming title tops the introduction to the “List of Concert Flutes and Piccolo, manufactured by Rudall, Carte & Co., Ltd”. The same set of General Remarks seems to have introduced the catalogue for an extraordinary length of time, perhaps 70 years or more. The purpose of this page is to present the introduction, which is, after all, an interesting statement of the views of the leading London makers of the period, but also to indicate where changes were made to the text, so we might speculate why.
To do this, I'm going to have to beg for help - I've only managed to collect so far a few catalogues. If you have access to a catalogue which is the same or which is different to that below, let me know, so I can expand the coverage further for all our benefit.
The main body of the text below (printed in black) is common to all the catalogues listed. Where variations occur, they will be colour coded for the year in which they first appeared. Catalogues for these years have so far been examined and incorporated:
Caveat: While every care in attempting to correlate the catalogues for change is taken, it would be easy for a minor change to slip through unnoticed. Please double check before relying on total accuracy in any important study. Note also, I'm not picking up on insignificant changes, just ones that affect the meaning.
SOME explanation about the Flutes manufactured by Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co., Ltd., may be useful to those who have no opportunity of seeing and examining them together.
There are two classes of Flutes; those with the Conical, and those with the Cylindrical Bore. Up to the year 1847 all Flutes were made with the Conical Bore, excepting the Fife, which has now gone out of use.
In the Conical Flutes the head or top joint into which the performer blows has a cylindrical bore, and in the body and foot joints the bore becomes gradually smaller towards the end of the instrument. In the Cylindrical Flutes, on the contrary, the body and foot on which the keys are, are cylindrical, and the head joint tapers towards the top. The cone, in this case, is not a straight taper, but is slightly curved, forming a section of a parabolic curve. In the Conical Flutes there were many different bores employed, some large, some small, and varying in numberless particulars. It was from the manufacture of their Eight-Keyed Flutes that Messrs. Rudall & Rose, the predecessors of the present firm, first became celebrated as Flute Makers. The Old Conical Flute was distinguished for its sweet tone combined with considerable power, and it was a remarkably popular instrument in England. At the present day, when we compare it with those now used, it is difficult to account for the enthusiasm which it formerly inspired. Among the serious defects in it we may refer to the fact that the six holes covered by the first, second and third fingers of each hand had to be placed where they could be reached conveniently, and that, in consequence, their correct size and position had to be sacrificed, with the necessary results of incorrect tuning, and inequality in the tone of the different notes. The absence of a proper hole for C natural, too, necessitated the use of an artificial note, i.e., a C sharp made to sound flat by placing some of the fingers on the lower holes. The muffled note thus produced was a remnant of the old one-keyed German Flute, on which many of the notes were produced in this faulty way. The notes again, were not properly vented; the necessity of having the hole below the one giving the sound open, in order to make the tone free, not being then recognised.
The Fifes formerly used in the Army were made with a Cylindrical Bore throughout. It was found that larger Flutes could not be made in this way, and the Fife itself, years ago, gave place to small conical Flutes and Piccolos. It is curious that the Fife, which gave way to these conical small Flutes, should have contained in it the germ of that bore which eventually was to carry all before it. The modern Flute, as has before been stated, is a cylinder with a parabolic head-joint.
With the Cylindrical bore, which was patented by this firm in 1847 for England and France [not actually true, Godfroy took out the French patent], and is now in universal use, were introduced other improvements of vast importance. Great efforts had been made immediately before this to remove some of the glaring defects of the instrument. Attempts had been made to facilitate the fingering, and, above all, to get the holes in their true places. It was only with the Cylinder, however, that the modern ideas were really developed and established, and that the great principle was realised that the holes must be put in their really correct positions first, and the means of covering them must be found afterwards.
The primary cause of the great success of the modern Flute is, that in consequence of the holes being in their theoretically correct positions, the tuning is, practically speaking, perfect, and the notes equal in quality and volume. With this happy union of theory and practice have been joined the singular beauty and variety of tone of the Cylinder bore, and the great facilities offered by the new systems of fingering. Combining, as it does, all these advantages, it cannot be a matter of surprise that the modern form of the instrument should have taken such a firm hold of the whole of the Flute-playing world.
The Cylindrical Flutes are made with several systems of fingering, but with the exception of that on the Old System, which retains to a certain extent some of the defects of the old flute, the tone and tuning in all of them may be considered equally perfect. One of the peculiarities of this bore is the ease with which the sound is produced; in this it contrasts very favourably with the Old Conical Flute, on which much skill was always requisite to produce at all a soft tone which was up to pitch, and was not feeble. The different systems of fingering are described under their separate headings.
The bodies of the Flutes are chiefly made of Silver, Wood, Ebonite or Gold "or New Metal". Which material is selected is purely a matter of taste, for each has its peculiar qualities. The Cylindrical Flutes were first made of silver, the tone of which is sweet and delicate. Flutes of this material have to be played with a looser lip than either those of the Wood or Ebonite, and this has led some to think them better suited to people who do not play much than those made of the two latter materials, as a firm lip is only to be kept up by practice. Cocus and Blackwood, owing to their durability and fitness generally for the purpose, have caused them to be very much used in the manufacture of Flutes, Clarinets and other instruments. The tone which it produces is rich and powerful, combined with a rounded quality so thoroughly characteristic of the Flute. Ebonite, a preparation of india-rubber, which has been used for some years in the manufacture of Flutes, is in some respects very similar to the Cocuswood. It has more resistance than Silver, but hardly so much as Cocus or Blackwood. The tone seems to have a slightly softened character, quite peculiar to the material. Ebonite never cracks in any climate. Gold, as a material for Flutes, has several distinctive peculiarities, which are very important. The tone is delicate, liquid and sympathetic in a high degree, and this goes hand in hand with much more resistance and greater richness than is found in Silver. Its remarkable qualities are due to the great density of the metal, to the closeness of each other of the particles which constitute it; this undoubtedly greatly influences the vibration.
"New metal", which is a Nickel alloy, is now used by us for Metal Flutes on account of the beautiful sympathetic and full tone that can easily be obtained, possessing the combined qualities of the Cocuswood and Silver Flutes.
There have been several theories put forward on the subject of the size of the holes, but it is now generally recognised by the Musical Profession, as the result of practical experience, that they should not be too large. One idea was that, as by opening a hole the tube is, practically speaking, temporarily cut off at that point, the hole should be made as large as possible, so as to produce the effect of cutting off thoroughly. Experience has shown, however, that this is undesirable, as the tone becomes wild and unmanageable. Another theory was that the instrument was in effect a set of open diapason Pandean Pipes combined in one tube, and that the holes should therefore become smaller the nearer they are to the embouchure. It was lost sight of, however, that as the bore remained the same, the Pandean Pipe theory must fall to the ground. It would be necessary to have a separate Flute, with a different bore for each note, to carry it out.
When these Flutes were first introduced they were made with what are called the small holes; since then, the large and medium sizes have been introduced. When the medium holes are used, it is found desirable to increase the size of the three lowest holes, but in order to preserve the balance they are not made too large. The late Mr. Clinton carried the size of these holes to an extreme, but they have not become popular. Practical experience must, after all, be the sure guide in these matters, and this has undoubtedly shown that, though the increase made in the size of the holes was a great stride in Flute-making, it does not do to carry it too far; there may, perhaps, be a gain of loudness close at hand, but there is, undoubtedly a loss of quality and carrying power.
Each flute is made by an experienced artiste. The evidence that our flutes are the best is that they are sent to well-known professional players in Germany, and in every country of the world.
It would be a difficult task to name any professional flute player in Great Britain who does not play on one of our instruments.
The catalogues so far included were obtained from the British Library, London and the Library of Congress, Washington.