Nonon special fingerings

Nonon restored 6

Instrument: Flûte Perfectionée - B-foot with special features

Maker: Nonon, Jacques, Paris (1802-1867) Nonon was in business with Tulou starting in 1831. In 1853 he established his own shop and continued to make the Flûte Perfectionée as he did together with Tulou (1786-1865). 

Pitch: A=446

This is a discussion primarily about the Tulou F# and the F natural fingerings

F# fingerings

As mentioned, this flute has a “Tulou F# key” for producing a higher pitched F# which can be used for a higher leading tone or in other circumstances. There are actually (at least) four easy ways of playing F# depending on the situation regarding desired pitch and volume. I have compared the pitch of the most likely four fingerings. All the examples below are for the 2nd octave. Note also that on my Nonon, the first octave notes below G are on the low side because of the long foot. The best all around fingering for first octave F# is the Tulou F# and low E is best with the D# key open (not so in the 2nd octave).

#1 – the baroque fingering 123-4 — k
#2 – standard keyed fingering 123 -4k- k
#3 – Tulou (high) fingering 123 - 4— -
#4 – like #3 except adding the F key.

Measuring in equal temperament from a reference G of A=446 these produce the following deviation.

Nonon 1864

#1 -16 cents
#2 -7 cents
#3 - +10 cents
#4 – higher than #3 (not useful, I think)

I think this flute produces slightly higher F#s than a normal mid-century French simple system flute. For comparison I use my Tulou 7-key with Tulou F#. Here I’m using a reference pitch of G at A=440. The F#s are all lower by comparison to the reference pitch on this flute as opposed to the Flûte Perfectionée. I think this was generally the more modern idea, that f#s need to be higher in general. Note that the Tulou F# doesn’t quite make it up to equal on the Tulou flute. It is, of course, easy to play it a bit higher but I was trying to not make much adjustment in how I played the different fingerings.

Tulou c.1840
#1 -33 cents
#2 -14 cents
#3 -2 cents

It is clear to me from playing this flute for a couple of days that the default regular 19thC fingering is what is intended under most circumstances. The Tulou F# is the one that requires the special fingering (close D# key) and is intended for time where the higher F# is desirable. The pitch of -7 cents is a great for normal use.

F natural fingering

Another interesting feature of the Perfectionée is the big improvement of the cross fingered F natural 123 4-6 -. On the 1840 Tulou there is a large difference between the cross fingered note and the keyed fingering. Again, I’m not making a big adjustment in air angle.

Tulou 1840
Cross fingering +20
Keyed +6

On the Perfectionée there is almost no difference in pitch. Just a cent or 2 higher for the cross fingering. There is some change in timbre, slightly more covered and a tiny bit softer. I doubt it would be noticeable in passage work. Being able to use the cross fingering eliminates a lot of the places where one would previously have to use the long F – slurring from F to D for instance. This improvement is clearly intentional.

Nonon 1864
Cross fingering +3
Keyed +2

Other effects of this mechanism:

The special right hand mechanism has at least one other effect. I recently started using the fingering 1—3—k for high F# because it seems to work fairly universally. It is too flat on this flute but the older 12- 4-- - is perfect and higher than it often is. All my other fingerings up to high A work as expected, have excellent response and tuning.

to be continued...


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