Flute, four keyed, box wood / ivory / metal, made by John Preston, London, England, 1776-1834
This instrument is important in showing the early development of multiple keys on the flute during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It illustrates the progression from the single key (D#) instrument to instruments with four keys (F, G#, Bb, and D#). Additional keys were added by makers as a response to the music written at the time and the desire of performers to have more accurately pitched and brighter notes that did not rely solely on forked fingerings. Such fingerings could make notes difficult to play with the correct intonation. The flute is an example of the innovative way a technical problem was improved through creative design.
This instrument along with others in the Museum¬?s collection from around this period helps to document wind instrument making in London during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Apart from Preston makers such as Hale (flute), Cramer (clarinet) and Cahusac (oboe) are also represented. Collectively they give some indication of the types of instruments by popular London makers that would have been known and may have been used in Australia by English immigrants and visiting musicians during the colonial period.
Phillip Bate, The Flute (Ernest Benn Ltd, London, 1975)
Dr Danielle Eden & Michael Lea; ¬?The Powerhouse Museum Flute Collection: Multiple Key Flutes of Less Than Eight Keys¬? in Flute Focus, Issue 16, October 2008, pp.31-33.
Ardal Powell; The Flute, (Yale University Press, USA, 2002)
John Solum, The Early Flute, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, 1992)
William Waterhouse; The New Langwill Index ¬? a dictionary of musical wind-instruments makers and inventors (Tony Bingham, London, 1993).
Curator, music & musical instruments,
Preston was known to have made or sold a variety of musical instruments and also published music.