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The Nagahara Scale


In 1847, Theobald Boehm revolutionized the flute world with his cylindrical-bore instrument, from which all subsequent modern flutes are derived. The changes from the old-style conical-bore flute required a new configuration of  tonehole sizes and locations, the result of which was the Boehm Scale.


Over the years, many makers have modified the traditional Boehm Scale to suit their tastes and those of their customers.   Scale development is a very complex art- while tonehole positions can be mathematically calculated, the maker may also choose to address more arcane issues, such as tonehole size, the proper height of the pad over an open tonehole, and ventilation of the same tonehole in different octaves, to name but a few.   It is each maker's combination of these different factors that makes each scale unique.


Developed with the orchestral flutist in mind, the Nagahara Scale attempts to address such problem areas on the flute such as d#2-f2, and the entire third register. As all makers know, a perfect lower octave can be calculated mathematically. The problems begin with the middle and third octaves, which are harmonics of the lower fundamentals. " E2" is one of the most unstable notes, as the lowest pitch to be sounded as a partial of its fundamental. Through an exhaustive trial-and-error process of manipulating tonehole size and position, the Nagahara Scale has improved the stability and tone of e2, and enhanced the response and intonation of the third octave as well. These developments have resulted in a superior scale, offering the player a broader tone color palette and better intonation for section playing. Many of our customers have told us of the overall improvement of the sound of the woodwind section of their orchestra after switching to the Nagahara Scale it makes an immediate and noticeable difference. Flute and oboe players can talk to each other once again.


In conclusion, the Nagahara Scale offers the player the opportunity to concentrate on making music, without wasting effort trying to conform an unruly instrument to the rest of the section. The end result is a performance filled with musicianship and expressive power.

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