Scale of Fingering
for Richard Potter's Patent Flute

These fingerings are taken from a single sheet publication marked:

A SCALE, or GAMUT, explaining the Use of the additional Keys
 in Mr. Potter's new-invented Patent German - Flute.

Publish'd as the Act directs, by Harrison & Co. No.18 Paternoster Row London April 14, 1787.

The single sheet is quite large - perhaps Ledger (11" x 17").  Fold marks reproduced on my copy suggest that it was folded and included in a more typically sized publication.  The note "Publish'd as the Act directs" suggests it might have been affixed to Potter's Patent document, granted two years earlier in 1785.  I believe I made my copy of both at the Library of Congress in 2002; this is supported by the size of the paper being in the US series.

The format

The original approximately A3 lithograph is far too finely printed and my copy too light to present on screen successfully.  Further, the fingerings are illustrated with sketches of the flute with keys shown open or closed, so it's really quite hard to interpret.

I've reset it, using my text-based fingering-chart format that I find economical in size and effort, while being easily readable.  Following usual practice, open holes are shown as "x" if covered and "o" if not.  Keys are not shown if in rest position, and shown as commas and apostrophes if operated. The key marks appear between the finger-holes in the positions the cups occupy.  This gets around the problem that levers could be operated by one or more different fingers.

The full compliment of six holes and six keys would thus appear: oo,o' oo,o,'' 

From left to right the keys are Bb, G#, Short F, Eb, C#, C.

Let me know if you find any fingerings that seem unworkable.  It might just be a typo!

Non-keyed notes

The Harrison-Potter document shows only fingerings involving the "additional Keys", leaving us with a lot of gaps for the un-keyed fingerings, i.e. the pre-existing 1-key flute fingerings.  It seemed appropriate to fill in the gaps with typical 1-key flute fingerings from Gunn, published circa 1793.  To make the two parts clear, I've coloured Potter's fingerings in blue, with Gunn's in black.

Note that Gunn also has his own Scale for the Additional Keys.  It covers much the same ground but is not quite as comprehensive.

Optional Fingerings

Potter's chart gives only two of his keyed notes alternative fingerings:

  • "Middle" C (C5) can be played either as the second harmonic of low C (C4), vented by L2 or with the usual 1-key fingering.

  • Third octave F (F6) is given three alternatives, two involving the additional keys and one as per 1-key flute useage.

Enharmonic Fingerings

Potter's scale gives the initial appearance of respect for enharmonic fingerings, but closer examination shows that the enharmonic pairs Eb and D#, E# and F, G# and Ab, etc., are all given a single fingering per pair.  The same is largely the case for Gunn's 1-key fingerings, excepting where a choice of cross-fingerings provides notes that can perhaps only be fairly promoted as B-sharp or C natural.  In keeping with Potter's precedent of giving only one fingering to an enharmonic pair, I've not presented the extra options Gunn gives.  I might reconsider that policy if players feel that would be useful.

A note to Irish flute players

While this fingering chart may be of historical interest to Irish flute players, it is unlikely to satisfy their modern day needs.  The 6-key flute in Potter's day was essentially a 4-key flute with additional C and C# keys on the foot, while the modern Irish 6-key flute derives from the 19th century 8-key flute, sans the C and C# keys.  Further, Potter's flute has small holes, so some of the fingerings and, in particular many in the third octave, will vary considerably from modern large-hole flute practice.

Printing it out

I've formatted it so it fits on to one A4 page.  If that doesn't work for you, you might try cutting and pasting the table into your word processor and reformatting it there.

Where is it?

In order to let you print it out conveniently, I've put it on a separate page.  I hope you find it useful!

On to Potter's Patent Flute Fingering Chart or

Back to McGee Flutes Index page.