Flap (wind instrument)

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Keys ( English key , French clef , Italian chiave ) are used on woodwind instruments (rarely also on some early brass instruments ) to reach tone holes which, due to the size or design of the instrument, are not accessible to the normal hand position or which can be closed with the fingertip are great.


The first, simple woodwind instruments were flutes, in which the tone holes were easily accessible for the fingers. This system can still be seen in the smaller (higher) recorders .

With the advancement of instruments and music in general, there was a search for ways to enlarge the pitch range and to be able to perform all the chromatic tones of the scale. The more complex the requirements became, the more difficult it was to create these tones by using handle combinations with the previously used holes. Additional holes were also introduced to make overblowing easier or to improve intonation by drilling the tone holes at the acoustically correct points on the pipe, regardless of the ergonomics of the hand. These holes were provided with flaps, a mechanism that practically extends the player's fingers (and / or enlarges the fingertip). The application (fingering ) could also be facilitated by flaps (combinations) and so additional flaps were attached for certain trills , for closing two tone holes with one finger (“double grip flap”) or for playing legato .

Valves have been detectable since the first third of the 16th century; the closed flaps don't seem to have appeared until the 17th century. Keys on brass instruments at the beginning of the 19th century could not prevail over the advantages of valves that were invented at the same time. For woodwind instruments such as the flute and clarinet , the key mechanism with extended lever arms developed by Theobald Böhm in the mid-19th century is still the technical standard today.


Keys on the lower part of the bassoon

A flap on the one hand from the pad ( pad ) which is attached to a circular metal disc, which covers the tone hole. With various mechanical constructions made of metal rods, it is connected to the finger flap, which can open or close the hole by pressing.

On the detailed picture of a bassoon there are two tone holes with lids on the lower right, of which the right one clearly leads to the key in the middle of the picture. It is the key for the big F sharp . Like the other three keys, it is operated to the left of the player's right thumb, whereby the round key in the middle (the capital E ) is the actual key cover with the cushion itself: this tone hole is too big on the modern bassoon to be operated by the thumb alone to be covered. (At this point on the baroque bassoon there is a smaller hole without a key)


One differentiates:

  • according to the game function:
    • Binding flap : serves to facilitate legato bindings of certain tones ( English slur , French ligature , Italian legatura ).
    • Double -handle key : ( saxophone and clarinet in the Böhm system ) two keys are operated with one finger (English double-plate key , French double clef , Italian raddoppia , chiave di comodita ); not to be confused with the double stops of the strings.
    • Trill key : serves to facilitate certain trills (Engl. Trill / shake key , fr. Clef du / trille pour , ital. Chiave del trillo ).
    • Octave key (also overblown or grinding key ): serves to facilitate overblowing; is attached to the underside of the tube (English speaker key , French clef d'octave , Italian portavoce ).
      • For clarinets: Duodec key (also register key ), key for overblowing (clarinets overblow in the duodecime, not in the octave); Invented around 1690 by Johann Christoph Denner . Bass clarinets had two duodez keys ( double keys ), which today are reduced to one by mechanical solutions.
  • according to the type:
    • Open flap : in its normal position holds a hole open by spring pressure (English open key , French clef ouverte , Italian chiave aperta ).
    • closed flap : closes a hole in its normal position by spring pressure (English closed key , French clef fermée , Italian chiave chiusa ).
    • Tilt flap: Simple flap in which a lever lowers the cushion onto the hole via a bearing. It is reset by leaf springs .
    • Rotary flap : the movement of the lever is transmitted to the flap by a shaft running along the pipe. It is reset by needle springs (English key on rod , French clef à tringle , Italian cannetta con perno , profilato contropunte ).
    • Plateau flap : a non-perforated cover.
    • Ring key : a ring-shaped actuating lever that lies over an open grip hole and moves the key over another tone hole when you grasp it. The ring flap was made in 1808 by Rev. Fred. Nolan and popularized in 1839 by Hyacinthe Klosé in connection with the Boehm system. (English ring key , glasses , French anneau mobile , Italian chiave ad anello ).
    • Spoon flap : Mechanism to close larger (" countersunk ") holes. Invented by Iwan Müller in 1813 .
    • Thumb key : by the thumb-operated flap for Overblowing (. English thumb-key ., French du pouce clef , ital. Chiave del pollice ).
    • Eyeglass flap: the combination of a ring flap with a platform flap, invented by Adolphe Sax .
    • Waterkey : at brass instruments flap for Ausfließenlassen of the condensed water (from the player breath) (engl. Water key , French. Clef d'eau , ital. Chiave dell'acqua / di scala ).
  • Keywork (English keywork , French mecanisme des clefs , Italian meccanismo delle chiavi )
    • Flap assembly (engl. Key-arrangement , French. Disposition of the clefs , ital. Disposizione delle chiavi ).
    • Key hole : is either “simple” or “recessed” (for clarinets); has a rim or is "flat". (English key hole , French trou de clef , Italian foro della chiave ).
    • Key pad : the padded cover for the tone hole; initially made of felt, later made of soft leather (mostly goatskin). (English key cushion / pad , French tampon de clef , Italian tampone cuscinetto ).
    • Flap spoon: spoon-shaped part of the mechanism on which the cushion sits (English key cap , French plateau / plaque de clef , Italian piattello della chiave ).
    • Valve stem : the flaps spoon and -stiel connecting part (engl. Shank, pipe , French. Rouleau , ital. Coda della chiave ).
    • Flap lever : The part of the key mechanism, on which the finger rests (engl. Key lever , French. Levier / languette de clef , ital. Leva della chiave , tasto ).


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Curt Sachs: Real Lexicon of Musical Instruments: at the same time a polyglossary for the entire field of instruments . Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim, New York 1972, ISBN 978-3-487-04458-3 , pp. 322 , ring flaps ( google.de [accessed on October 22, 2017]).