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A flute is often judged by it’s credentials

such as it’s previous owners, serial numbers and the makers themselves. This flute seems to tick a lot of those boxes. It is unique and revolutionary; it has a Bick Brannen headjoint, a Kingma key-on-key quarter tone system, and a body made by the incredibly talented flute-maker Lev Levit.
There are already quite a few quarter tone instruments on the market, most notably by Brannen-Cooper and Sankyo. Miyazawa also bought the patent license for Kingma’s key-on-key mechanism, but never made one. The main problem with all of these instruments is that they are simply quite expensive. A quarter tone Brannen flute will cost in the region of £30,000 and Sankyo will cost nearly as much. That was until the launch of Levit’s new flute.

Levit initially began his flute-making career with Powell flutes, and then moved to Brannen- Cooper. Whilst working for Brannen Brothers, Levit became good friends with Eva Kingma, the entrepreneur of key-on-key quartertone flutes. Levit bought Bickford Brannen’s old tools, previously used to make the Oston-Brannen flutes. These flutes were cheaper, drawn tone-hole version of Brannen Coopers. The flutes was made with a different set of tooling which is why they look different from Brannen-Cooper flutes (notably the main differences are the key cups which do not have the French pointer-key arms). With this arsenal Mr. Levit began to develop his own masterpiece.

The first thing you will notice about Levit’s new flute is that the Kingma System means that there are holes where there are not normally any holes. This is the key-on-key quartertone system, and really makes a difference to how the instrument feels when you play. All of the quarter tone flutes do have a silky sound which cannot be replicated by other materials. Eva Kingma said herself that in blind tests the quarter tone flutes won most of the time in sound. There are a lot more keys where normally one wouldn’t have any however, it would also be a mistake to think that the extra key work would make this flute heavy and difficult to use as the system has been designed in such logical way. It simply makes sense – one can play the instrument as a normal flute without having to touch the extra keys. However, to explore the instrument’s full potential can be very exciting.

The headjoint on the first of Levit’s new flutes is made by Bickford Brannen himself, who takes a lot of influence from Albert Cooper. This flute is simply stunning, a dream to play on. It has an easy and beautiful sound throughout all registers and makes articulation effortless. The flute is so light that sometimes one forgets that it is a quartertone system. However, one look at the g sharp key will remind you of that. Best of all, the instrument does not cost the earth. Retailing at way under £20 000, it is a lot cheaper than its competition. This could be a fundamental development in the quartertone era, but only time will tell.

Do not miss the opportunity to try this unique flute at Just Flutes in Croydon, London, UK.

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