Embouchure Dimensions


I measured 35 flutes and made up a table. I was going to have a date field but I wasn't brave enough to declare dates for all of these flutes. They are either originals or copies by makers who adhere very closely to original dimensions. It is important to remember that these numbers only represent the "outside" dimension of the hole and embouchure holes contain an internal dimension as important as the outside. I ordered this starting with the smallest width and included a "ratio" which in effect, shows the "roundness" of the hole. I also put in a "volume" field which I hope is properly reporting the overall size of the hole.

A couple of things that may appear strange. The H. Grenser (early) is one I asked Rod to make me with the smallest, most baroque, embouchure he thought could appear on a Grenser - hence it is very "baroque." The Drouet is also interesting in that it falls within the range we could consider "baroque." This is part of what made his flutes special and really makes me want to get this restored. The Zencker, in "Koch style" has the least round hole. The Palanca (PS original) is not very round but is elliptical, not square. I tried to do these carefully and I have very accurate equipment, however, there is certainly an error rate involved as I didn't want to scratch up the flutes. The comparative data should be relevant.

Palanca 9

Flute embouchures - one could say that each one is different but that isn't really true. Some makers stuck very closely to the same design, accepting, of course, that each piece of wood and voicing is slightly different. I grabbed a few flutes from the closet to take some pictures which I hope will demonstrate some of the better accepted characteristics and styles of holes. I have not been measuring them except that the starting point is the baroque holes which are round and approx. 8.5 mm. This first photo - bottom to top - is Schukart, Oberländer, A. Grenser, Palanca (original). Note that the first 2 are virtually round as I would expect to see in most "really baroque" flutes. Palanca was one of the first to start making elliptical holes - mine is slightly less so than the famous original that all makers copy. The copied one (in the original is 10.3 x 8.4 - mine is slightly smaller. The Grenser is slightly oval as well though still pretty moderately sized.

embouchure 2

The next group is basically 3 early French 19th-cent flutes (probably pre-1820) From the bottom - Louis Drouet, Noe Freres, Claire Godfroy - above it you can see an English flute by Barfoot (quite a bit bigger hole). The French flutes which were not so concerned with volume as they were with sweetness generally had slightly ovals of "just the right size." My quote - the makers were very similar and the holes were very carefully designed and crafted. Note here that the Drouet has the smallest hole. Not far off from a baroque hole, at least in outer dimension. Drouet was famous for being playing in a very sweet manner with an especially wonderful high-register. One surprising thing is that this very French flute was actually made by English builders who normally would have mdd much larger tone and embouchure holes.

embouchure 3

The next three are German/Viennese flutes from around 1830. From the bottom, Max Kneer, Carl Zencker, and the master S. Koch. Koch was probably responsible for popularity, if not design, of the square-ish holes we find on almost all of his flutes. I was skeptical (as were some people at the time) about this shape - "my lips aren't square." Somehow they are actually quite fantastic and can help produce a powerful but refined sound.

embouchure 4

The final picture just adds in a Rittershausen/Fischer flute at the top. Quite a bit bigger than anything else...

embouchure 1

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