The life and work of John Clinton, cont.


So, when we look at Clinton in light of the above discussion, what do we find?  Simply a man like any other, failings and all, but one with incredible energy and a strong sense of purpose, whether misguided or no.  A man with a substantial ego, which doubtless drove him on to ever greater achievements, as large egos usually do. An individual having definite obsessive tendencies. A musician of considerable talent both as a player and a composer.  A teacher of repute who for 13 years held the highest teaching post available to flautists in his day.  A performer who achieved a high level of peer recognition. A designer who had a clear view of his goals and knew how to achieve them.  Finally, a passionate devotee of the instrument that we all love, and one who was prepared to go to great lengths and take considerable risks to pursue the perfection of his instrument in his own estimation. 

In summary, a man whom both of the authors would very much like to have known, warts and all, and one who in our view deserves far better at the hands of historians that he has been accorded to date.  We hope that our work may start our friend John down that road, even if far too belatedly.


No work of this nature can be completed by two authors working thousands of miles apart without the assistance and advice of others.  Both of the present authors freely acknowledge their debt to numerous friends, colleagues, organisations and individuals for their varied contributions to this research.

In particular, we would like to thank the following (in no special order of priority):

Gregory Brown of Sidney, British Columbia, for saving the 1851 Clinton flute from the rubbish bin in the first place and then for kindly passing it on to the authors’ collection for restoration and study; also for his restoration of the authors’ 1851 Carte instrument;

Robert Bigio of London, England, for his ever-helpful provision of advice and information whenever asked;

Tony Bingham of London, England, for assistance in obtaining relevant literature;

Tatsuoki Koroda for the excellent Auto Tuner software used in the evaluation process;

Carol Lynn Ward-Bamford of the Dayton C. Miller collection in Washington, D.C., USA, for outstanding co-operation in providing access both to relevant literature and to surviving instruments;

Rick Wilson of Los Angeles, California for providing an opportunity to examine and compare his Equisonant flute with our 1851 instrument;

Prof. Neville Fletcher, Australian National University, and Assoc. Prof. Joe Wolfe, University of New South Wales, for their advice on matters relating to musical acoustics.

And lastly, (but by no means leastly!) to our long-suffering wives Lorna and Jesse for putting up with our flute-obsessive behaviour, our periodic consumption of Guinness and Bushmills, the long hours of abandonment while we travelled, tinkered, tested and otherwise worked on this project and, most of all, for staying the course of our often-frenetic musical lives and offering nothing but love and support through it all.  That’s one debt that we can never repay adequately.  But we can try!!


  1. Bate, Philip.  “The Flute – A Study of its History, Development and Construction”. New York:  W. W. Norton & Co., 1962

  2. Rockstro, Richard S. “A Treatise on the Construction, the History and the Practise of The Flute”.  London: Rudall, Carte & Co., Revised Edition, 1928

  3. Clinton, John.  “A Treatise upon the Mechanism and General Principles of the Flute……together with a description of a Newly-Constructed Flute, with the old system of fingering”.  London: H. Potter, 1851

  4. Clinton, John.  “A Theoretical & Practical Essay on the Boehm Flute, as manufactured by Messrs. Rudall & Rose……..written and dedicated to the Inventor”.  London:  R Cocks & Co., 1843

  5. Clinton, John.  “School or Practical Instruction Book for the Boehm Flute, with the open or shut G# key,….written and dedicated to his esteemed friend T. Boehm Esqure”.  London:  Cramer, Beale & Co., 1847

  6. Clinton, John.  “A Code of Instructions for the Fingering of the Equisonant Flute by the Inventor and Patentee”  London:  Clinton & Co., 1860

  7. Carte, Richard. “Carte's Patent Flutes. Sketch of the Successive Improvements made in the Flute. With a Statement of the Principles upon which Flutes are Constructed; and a Comparison between the Relative Merits of the Ordinary Flute; the Flute of  Boehm; and Carte's two new Patent Flutes”   London: Rudall, Rose, & Co.: London, 1851.

  8. Toff, Nancy.  “The Development of the Modern Flute”, page 65. 1st ed. New York:  Taplinger Publishing Co, Inc., 1979. 

  9. Welch, Christopher.  “History of the Boehm Flute”  3rd ed. London:  Rudall, Carte & Co., 1896

  10. Boehm, Theobald.  “The Flute and Flute Playing”.  Orig. German Ed. pub. Munich, Joseph Aibl, 1871.  English Translation 1909 by Dayton C. Miller: 2nd Ed. pub. 1922 – reprint  of 2nd Ed. pub. New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1964

  11. Clinton, John.  “A Few Practical Hints to Flute Players upon the subject of Modern Flutes, their Principles and their Construction: To which is prefixed and Explanation of the Equisonant Flute”.  London:  Clinton & Co., 1855

  12. Peter and Ann Mactaggart (Ed.) “Musical Instruments in the 1851 Exhibition”. Welwyn:  Mac & Me Ltd., 1986 

  13. Waterhouse, William.  “The New Langwill Index – A Dictionary of Musical Wind Instrument Makers and Inventors”.  London:  Tony Bingham, 1993


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