It would perhaps be superfluous to recount the events that led up to the idea that changing the metal out of which the stopper was made would change the performance of the head. Anyhow this idea resulted in the experiments recounted in the article I contributed in the March 2003 issue of "Pan" the journal of the British Flute Society which can be read on this site.
Those who have read it will recall that I chose metals of different densities as my guiding principle for the experiments. But the enquiry branched off this path in a way that I did not foresee. I was so impressed with a titanium stopper that I conjectured that the other metals in the same group in the Periodic Table of The Elements -Group 4 to which titanium belongs - might demonstrate periodicity in their properties as flute stoppers as well as their chemical properties. This led to trials of zirconium and hafnium the other 2 feasible members of Group 4. All three metals-titanium,zirconium and hafnium are good - particularly zirconium-and there is a family resemblance between them. But the two last metals were not chosen for their densities!
Leading on- the next door neighbours of titanium & zirconium in Group 5-respectively vanadium & niobium have been tried on the theory that propinquity in atomic number, might produce similarity in their properties as flute stoppers to those of the Group 4 metals. (The atomic number of a Group 5 element is greater by one than the member of Group 4 in the same Period). Tantalum - a Group 5 metal- was chosen originally on the basis of its density. The three Group 5 metals are all musically interesting ;whether they are similar to the Group 4 metals it is hard to say.
I have added beryllium to the list of metals for the flute & piccolo stoppers. It has remarkable physical properties including very low density;it is the least dense of the metals I have tried. Once I & others have tried them out I shall revert to this subject.
Readers who have had a scientific education might like to look at the Periodic Table Of Elements which shows the metals that I have tested. Please click on the appropriate box marked "Periodic Table".
DAVID SYMINGTON- FLUTE STOPPERS AND CROWNS
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"Pan"- March 2003