Make a PVC flute

Posted by jerry on December 23rd, 2006 — Posted in DIY, Journal, Music, Woodwork

pvc flute

Many years ago one of my fellow Mucky Duck Bush Band members – the late Barry Halpin – made a flute for me from PVC pipe. It was a transverse Irish Simple System flute (6 – holes) that worked on the same fingering as a tin whistle.

Several house moves later and that flute is long gone. But recently I came across Doug Tipple’s instructions on how to make one of these flutes and decided to make a couple.

The internal diameter of Australian PVC piping is a little different from the measurements that Doug gives, but using a tuner I found that Doug’s measurements give a good approximation. Using his metric sizes on some 20mm pvc tubing I made a couple of quite passable and playable flutes. Here’s how I did it. I made mine in the key of D – if you want to make one of a different key, try using Pete Kosel’s ‘Flutomat’ – just follow the link and set the desired key in the key selector at the bottom of his chart and you will have the necessary measurements

Pete Kosel’s Flutomat

First, I bought two one-metre lengths of 20mm white pvc tubing. I cut it to the overall length of 570mm

pvc flute

Then I attached a length of masking tape along the length to prevent tearout when drilling the holes.

I measured 525mm from one end and drilled a 9.5mm hole for the embouchure (for blowing). I stopped one end with a cork and blew across the embouchure to find I could make a fairly decent C# – The taking the flute back to the mitre saw I took a couple of salami slices off the end away from the embouchure until I could get a consistent D – the total length was now 563mm.

Then I laid out the holes with the following measurements as measured from the bottom of the flute:

hole one = 98mm (8.0mm drill)

hole two = 137mm (11.0mm drill)

hole three = 166mm (9.5mm drill)

hole four = 223mm (8.0mm drill)

hole five = 260mm (9.5mm drill)

hole six = 297mm(9.5mm drill)

pvc flute

pvc flute
Before drilling, don’t forget to centre-punch the marks so the drill doesn’t wander on the curved surface. And the drill needs to run slowly to avoid tearout and chipping the pvc. As you drill each hole, you need to test the flute against a tuner and make adjustments to the hole to bring it into tune by slightly extending the hole into an oval to make it sharper.

Once you have the holes drilled and in tune you will need to clean up the edges with a half round needle file

pvc flute

You may want to file the embouchure hole into a slight D shape to make it easier to make the notes. But that’s all there is to it. With a bit of patience and careful measurement you can build one in about an hour – this flute cost me a total of AUS$3.70!

pvc flute

Click here to hear a scale played on this instrument – please note that I am not a flute player!



Mothers of Intention band

Posted by jerry on December 9th, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Music

The Mothers of Intention came to Canberra last night along with wonderful Blue Mountains singer/songwriter Anne Ridgeway, to sing at the Merry Muse Folk Club. It was a great night and the harmonies were amazing!

Anne Ridgway has a rich mellifluous voice that complements her 12-string guitar, and the harmonies added by Rosie McDonald and Penny Rankin-Smith from Mothers of Intention contributed further depth and range. And Tony Pyrzakowski’s deft fiddle playing gave another dimension to the music. The crowd may not have been large, but it was very appreciative – calling the Mothers back for more at the end of the night. If you missed it then you missed one of the folk music highlights for this year.

The Mothers of Intention gave richly of their talents, and Lainey Balsdon’s recorder blends well with Tony’s fiddle and and the power of Rosie’s guitar.

And with energy to spare, they all went down to the Gorman House Markets to once again give freely of their music, and I was privileged to be asked to step in with Tony on the fiddle for our own dueling fiddles moment, as well as a lyrical Ashokan Farewell with the whole band. Anne Ridgeway was there also, so the market goers were given a real treat with some wonderful folk talent ๐Ÿ™‚

Mothers of Intention band


Duelling fiddles!

Posted by jerry on November 21st, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Music

The Majors Creek Folk Festival was – as usual – quite an experience! After the fun and games of finding a campsite before a rear tyre went completely flat, then finding the spare tyre was also flat, I could sense this would be a memorable festival… But then the State Emergency Services came to the rescue with a small air compressor and things started to look up. Good blokes the lot of them – even if they do wear orange jump-suits ๐Ÿ™‚

The sessions were good this year, starting fairly low key and then building rapidly. At one point I was playing a reel full pelt, and then someone tapped me on the shoulder – I glanced round and there was Tony Pyrzakowski – the fiddle player from Wheeze and Suck Band and Mothers of Intention. I keep running into this amazing guy and folk festivals, and when we do: it’s on!

Tony Pyrzakowski and Jerry Everard

We are well matched as musicians and we lark around a lot, playing at being competetive rivals – actually he knows more about playing fiddle than I’ll ever know – but then I know more tunes than he does :-p And it all makes for a great show for anyone who happens to catch us in the mood – especially after a few pints of the good stuff.

Will o the Wisp fire circus

Anyhow, after the fire show – Eve hired me to MC the Will o’ the Wisp Fire Circus – it was off to the session bar for a few tunes.

Saturday was a real highlight as Tony and I got goingย  – both of us trying to look casual while the rosin dust fairly flew off the strings. We played some great tunes and the crowd just kept getting bigger as the tunes got faster and faster. That’s the stuff festivals are made of and this year’s Majors Creek was one of the best this year!

Sharon did a special tribute by stitching one of the pictures of us playing! What an amazing piece of embroidery!

There was another great session late on Saturday night when the singers had sunk to Goodnight Irene and the pace was quiet, along came Davydd McDonald – a great young Brisbane musician and it was on again – Da Eye Wifey, Maggies Pancakes and then into some great jigs and reels. Davy stayed with us between festivals and he did me the great tribute of writing me a reel – Jerry’s Reel – so I said to him in my best imitation of Michael Caton from the movie The Castle: “That’s going straight to the website!”
The weather held until Sunday when the wind came up – we managed to get the campsite stowed before the rain set in – and after sitting in on a few concert sets we headed off back to Canberra.


Frankie’s Reel

Posted by jerry on September 13th, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Music

One of the side effects of any festival is that I come home with a pocketbook (moleskine of course) filled with names of tunes that people have played in sessions – and these become my to-do list for the next several weeks, as I struggle to learn a few of the more memorable ones.

One such tune is Frankies Reel, or Frank’s Reel, which I heard played really well by Tony Pyrzakowski of Mothers of Intention. It started when my ears cringed at what what seemed to be the start of some hillbilly type tune – then the second part arrived, with all those syncopations and I was hooked. It’s a great tune, written by John McCusker. Another one – that Frankie Gavin plays really nicely – is ‘Man o’ the House‘ – a simple but really lyrical reel.

Full Circle Band at Kangaroo Valley

We got Tony up on stage with us during the festival, and we had a great old go – like a couple of dueling fiddlers!

Full Circle live at Kangaroo Valley 2006


Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival

Posted by jerry on September 11th, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Music

What a wonderful festival! The valley backdrop to the festival was spectacular, and despite the weather (there was lots of it) the Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival in New South Wales, Australia, debuted with a great line-up of artists, including Full Circle, Kate Fagan, Wheeze and Suck Band, Mothers of Intention, Craig and Simone, the Shiny Bum Singers and many more.

The place had a great atmosphere and did itself proud to the extent that the whole community came together to support this festival – their first in this town.

Kangaroo Valley bridge

This bridge is the oldest suspension bridge in Australia! It’s amazing ๐Ÿ™‚

You can see some photos from the festival on the Full Circle Band website here. Tony, the fiddle player from Mothers of Intention, and Rick Saur – one of the festival organisers came onstage and jammed with us – and that’s what a festival is all about!
The Friendly Inn, Kangaroo Valley
We started off with a session in the aptly named Friendly Inn pub on Friday evening, then it was off to the Festival ground to catch a couple of concert spots, then back to the accommodation – which although a little out of town, was very comfortable.

Saturday saw us again sessioning in the session tent, the pub, then the session tent again, and then we played our first concert spot in the early evening to a great audience – who were quickly up and dancing, despite the muddy conditions. Then a quick drive to the Bowling Club for our good friends Mothers of Intention’s Karifolkie (karioke with live music). And so to bed…

Full Circle Band at Kangaroo Valley Festival

Sunday saw me pull out the fiddle in front of the pizzeria, where we got a warm reception, and I was soon joined by other members of the band, plus various ring-ins from Mothers of Intention, and legendary fiddler Bob McInnes. This was a great way to warm up cold fingers before another concert spot in the main venue where we played to another wonderful audience, and it was clear that by this time word had spread about Full Circle and we had another enthusiastic audience which really rounded off the festival. This was the first for this town, and I certainly hope there will be many more to come!

And as you can see, festivals are good for fitness too!