New title – A Complete Guide to Learning the Irish Flute by Fintan Vallely, (the new edition of ‘Timber – The Flute Tutor’), May, 2013
The wooden, six-hole, ‘simple system’ transverse concert flute took on a new lease of life in the 1960s. This was particularly so in traditional Irish music which itself has extended out of its own national revival to become a free-standing international music genre played and listened to all over Europe and the US, even in Japan. Part of the flute’s popularity is due to bands like Ceoltóirí Chualann, The Chieftains, Bothy Band, Boys of the Lough, De Danann and Altan, more recently Dervish, Danú, Lúnasa and Ciorras, for each of which the instrument has been an anchoring sound. Also using flutes made of wood, Baroque music has undergone revival too. And not to be ignored are the humble ‘fife’ and the band flute, the small versions of wooden flute which are hugely popular still for marching music not only in Ireland, but in East-coast USA and the instrument’s land of origin, Switzerland.
Now completely revised and trebled in size, the new edition of this ‘method’ has been completed and comes out in early Summer of 2013. With a history of the instrument and much anecdotal information, in images and succinct explanations the tutor takes the reader through all aspects of holding, blowing, fingering, ornamentation and breath control, much of this not described anywhere else. The writing style is light yet informative text, with historical and other illustrations and comment which set the instrument in its music perspective. Photographs illustrate the written instruction throughout. The various aspects of playing are presented in achievable modules, and refreshingly lift many of the burdens which are encountered in first-time playing. The book is designed for all stages of competence – from the absolute beginner through to advanced playing by those have already been playing for some time. It can be used for learning to play any kind of flute – long or short, any key – and is ideal too for those learning the tin whistle – the popular junior relative in the flute family. The book is suited too to those wishing to learn the tin whistle itself with a view to later moving on to the flute. Instruction is given via the medium of Irish Traditional music where the wooden flute enjoys its greatest popularity and has produced its most outstanding exponents.
The repertoire of tunes is a valuable collection of music in itself. It includes all tunes which are local to Irish, Scottish and English music – airs, marches, double jigs, single jigs, slip jigs, hop jigs, reels, hornpipes, strathspeys and highlands – as well as the borrowed and nativised waltzes, mazurkas and polkas. These give the beginner plenty of choice in learning, and for those already playing they provide an new, interesting and comprehensive repertoire which tests every aspect of competence. Many of the tunes are presented in ‘sets’ for performance planning, and substantial advice is given on practising, with exercises including playing in the third register and transposing common tunes to other keys. Various appendices throughout the book provide an otherwise-unavailable compilation of information which is valuable to both beginners and advanced flute players, and a complementary website provides links to established sources of further music, information on flutes and flute makers, suppliers and repairers and flute recordings.
A Complete Guide to Learning the Irish Flute comes with three instruction CDs and will be available from Waltons (Ireland) on line after Easter 2013.
First edition of Timber (1986-2011)
The earlier editions of the book – titled Timber – the flute tutor – are now out of print. For those who have it, it is still a perfectly serviceable tutor, and if you wish to have the accompanying audio material, it is available on CD below. This CD does not correspond to the new edition.
Timber – the Flute Tutor -Instruction CD WHN 005
The instruction on this album and in the book Timber is designed for the wooden concert flute, but applies also to tin whistle which uses the same fingering and shares many ornamentation features also with the flute. It covers all the major melodic details covered in Timber (second edition, full colour cover, 1988 – 2008). It also applies to the first edition of Timber (yellow and red cover, 1986 – 88), but with slightly different page references.
This album is broken into seventy seven tracks to facilitate the learner accessing individual items instantly. However, in the text, there are considerably fewer ‘tape’ or listening logos. Therefore it is useful to go first through one’s copy of Timber and highlight the spots to which the full range of tracks applies.