THE NEW FLUTE DESIGN
by JIM SCHMIDT
The logic behind my fingering system is straightforward. One note follows the next chromatic note by closing down the next key with the next finger of your hand, and so on down the line, one after the other in linear sequence.
This new fingering system is easy to memorize and enables the player to perform even difficult passages with comfort and ease. Chromatic scales sound wonderfully smooth. All scales are easy to play, regardless of how many sharps or flats are involved. The Boehm method is built around the C major scale with the sharps and flats of other scales inserted where they can fit. Because of this, scales with more sharps and flats become difficult to play. The new flute design overcomes this problem because it is based on the chromatic scale - the only scale to include all twelve notes of the octave.
The Schmidt chromatic fingering makes perfect sense and is a pleasure to use. Since the tone holes are generally located directly underneath the fingers being applied, the players understand that they are making the flute tube longer and lowering the pitch by applying more fingers, making it shorter and raising the pitch by lifting fingers, or venting it for high notes by lifting some fingers and closing others. This direct link of fingers over tone holes enables players to visualize what they are doing to the flute tube. It encourages them to use more creativity and intelligence in their playing. For example: it is easy to transpose down a third by simply counting down 4 more fingers on their keys.
This flute has been designed with ergonomics and finger comfort foremost in mind. All of the touchpieces have been ideally located. The angle and finger positions of both hands have been laid out to allow for relaxed playing. The player's hands are also located closer to the face and so strain on the arms is reduced. These improvements are not subtle - they are dramatic. It's a healthy design and it feels friendly in your hands.
The limitations of the Boehm system have made it necessary to invent the Bb lever, split E 3rd octave, E facilitator (restrictor), duplicate G#, C# trill key, 3rd octave F# button, low B gizmo and the Bb thumb key. All of these extra keys just make the Boehm system more awkward to play. The new system sweeps away all of this extra keywork and starts with a clean slate. With the new system, scales and tones are cleaner and quicker due to the fact that all the main line notes are independent and is not loaded down by interlinkage mechanisms as are, for instance, Bb and F# in the Boehm method. Tones are exeptionally clear because you have the choice of closing only those holes which produce the best sound.
Trills are a breeze to play as they simply involve the same decisive finger to be moved up and down as would normally be used to play the next note. A chromatic or other scale of successive trilled notes sounds very uniform, each note having the same volume and available speed. More tremolos are available and easier to play than with the Boehm system.