Saturday, January 16, 2010

My New Flute!

It arrived on Christmas day. A post office deliveryman rang my doorbell at 10:56 AM and handed me the package I've been waiting for since May 8, 2008. My new flute is finally here!

My Merry Christmas!
A new coat (with tags still dangling from the sleeve), a new watch, and a flute!

The flute Peter Noy made for me is a six-keyed boxwood flute. The head joint is unlined and unthinned, with a Cooper cut embouchure which includes a blow edge insert made of horn. The rings which reinforce all the joints are made of horn as well. Modeled after the Rudall & Rose 19th century flutes, it has rather large Nicholson-style finger holes. The middle joint is divided. With six keys, it is a fully chromatic instrument. The traditional Irish repertoire doesn't use the flute's third octave, but this flute does in fact have a viable and pleasant sounding third octave.

The flute, cleaning rod, and humidifier rest in modified art supply case.

The head crown of my flute was made by Catherine Crowe of Toronto, an enamel artist and traditional Irish singer I met in the Catskills. Unbeknownst to me, Peter and Catherine have been friends for years, which is how Peter came to have the enamel crown Catherine made. Reading my blog posts, Peter recently discovered that I knew Catherine as well and suggested I might like her crown on my flute.

Catherine's art uses patterns and objects that draw their significance from the folklore of ancient Celtic, Scythian and Etruscan cultures. The pattern she used for the flute's crown is the Celtic triple spiral. According to Catherine, The triple spiral is one of the oldest Celtic designs. It was in use from the 7th century BC right up to the present. This particular one is based on an enamelled escutcheon from around the 7th century AD. (Click here for more information)

Interestingly, Catherine's triple spiral is very similar to Peter's logo which incorporates a stylized representation of the three-pronged trillium, the emblem and official flower of Ontario. The trillium holds special significance for Peter because he grew up in Ontario and lived in Toronto for many years.

Like the flute makers of old, Peter engraves his logo on each section of the flute. The main stamp, to the right of the right-most ring in the picture below, has the letters NOY arranged in a semi-circle under the trillium shape. From this photo's prespective the stamp is on its side, with the N at the bottom. The main stamp is located on the flute's third joint. The stamp Peter uses on all the other joints is simply a very tiny trillium, as seen on either side of the left-most ring. You can see these a little better, especially the one on the lighter piece of boxwood. Double-click on the picture below to enlarge it.

At first I thought Catherine's design was a fancier form of Peter's logo. However, in email conversation with both Catherine and Peter, I realized that each design was distinct, with its own meaning and story. It's a rather an uncanny coincidence that the two are so similar!

In the end, I came to appreciate the synchronicity of my flute's two symbols. It reminds me of the ribbons in a Celtic knot, twisting through both personal and historical circumstances. All of the Canadian provinces, including Ontario, took in many immigrants from Ireland, particularly during 1800's as a result of the Great Famine. As a result, Ontario has a rich and lively Irish community, with an Irish Canadian population of approximately two million people according to the 2006 census. Living in Ontario and participating in the Irish community, both Catherine and Peter would have been exposed to many Celtic patterns over the years. Likewise, I'm sure they both would have seen the trillium represented in many forms for various reasons. In an email exchange with Peter about the relationship of his trillium logo to the triple spiral, he concluded it was what Joyce called " the ineluctable modality of the visible." (and if you need help with that statement, as I did, click here)

In closing, here are a few more pictures. Actually, taking good flute pictures is quite difficult. One needs a much better camera than mine and proper lighting to prevent the the flash or the sun from reflecting off the finish and distorting the rich hues of the wood. Nevertheless, I hope these photos will give you some idea of the marvelous workmanship that goes into a Peter Noy flute. I'm just thrilled with it. Bet you never would have guessed!!

© 2010, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement


Lorcan Otway said...

Completly cool. =)

reinbald said...

I stumbled on your blog looking for Olwell-pic's - I read your 2007 story on picking a flute for ITM and was curious what eventualy came out. This one is amazing - very nicy.
I got myself a keyless Olwell last november (same dilemma - played silver flute for years etc ...) after I met Pat in Belgium (we shared some tunes actualy).

All the best from Belgium

John Rush said...

I stumbled on to your page by doing a google search for flute crown photos. First I have to say that your new Peter Noy flute looks like a beauty! He makes wonderful instruments! I have one of his Aftican Blackwood headjoints with mother of pearl inlay for my modern flute and I love it! Secondly I love the design of your crown very pretty.

Enjoy the new flute!