This boxwood flute is in four sections, with a brass key (probably a replacement), four ivory ferrules and an ivory cap, and a circular embouchure hole (possibly enlarged at some stage). It is stamped “VILLARS” with a small fleur-de-lys on each section. The additional “3” stamped on the upper body indicates that this section was only one of several ‘corps-de-rechange’ additional interchangeable sections, but is the only one in the Collection. As many as six, each a slightly different length, could be made for the same flute. This was an attempt to accommodate differences in the prevailing pitch, which fluctuated substantially, even from one town to the next, in 18th-century Europe.
There are some slight cracks in the sockets and ferrules, and the top tenon (the projecting piece of wood inserted to form a mortise joint) is cracked. More importantly, the upper body has been shortened at both ends and is at least 7mm shorter than originally. Unfortunately, intonation has been compromised by the shortening process, and the problem is not solved by pulling the section out to its original length as this causes further intonation problems in the upper register. If this can be ignored (or improved by the player’s skill!), the instrument has a warm sound and plays well throughout its range (particularly if the latter is restricted somewhat). The overall length is now 604mm and the sounding length (embouchure to foot) is 537mm.
Technical description: Boxwood; 4 sections; brass key; 4 ivory ferrules plus cap; circular embouchure-hole. Keymount type: ring; SATK. Keyhead type: flat square, notched and chamfered. Repair History: Key is probably a replacement; upper body has been shortened at both ends and is now at least 7mm shorter than it originally was (cf. workshop drawing, Beaudin, 1987); embouchure hole may have been enlarged.