FAQ  -   The Magic Flute


Getting Started with the Magic Flute -- linking the notes to the angle of the gyroscope (or what we call "calibration").

The Magic Flute uses a gyroscope. Because it uses a gyroscope, the software is doing an awful lot of calculation. There is a key feature you must use to prevent drift and to aid the computer in its calibration efforts. There may be some drift after you have centered the controller at 90° - which is the optimal starting position for the Magic Flute. While the center note may shift upward or downward, you can very easily correct the problem simply by sipping the controller briefly when taking inward breaths -- so while you are playing, two arrows and a dot appear on the right side of the screen to correct drift.

Q: (here's another way of saying the above) How can I keep the drifting of the giro in hand:

By introducing a calibration sequence I measure the rate of drift and then use this to correct subsequent readings from the Gyro. It works until the accumulated error forces the gyro to either end of the scale, but as long as the user breaths in occasionally the drift is no longer an issue. It is, however, more important than ever to keep still during the calibration. Consider it like a tuning sequence.

Q: Can I calibrate the flute while I am playing it?

Yes you simply need to take sips on the controller periodically. The best way to learn about calibration and understand its effects is to use the flute.

Q: Can I navigate the controller menus independently with the sip and puff breath switch that is on the controller?

Absolutely. You must tilt the controller to change directions on the menus.

Q: I find it very difficult with my range of motion to consistently play the controller. I wondered if you could play it horizontally as opposed to playing it up and down?

Yes you can! To get the right angle of roughly 90 degrees you will need to get a higher stand. The mouthpiece of the flute has to be exactly in front of your mouth, and the flute and the upper part of the (arm) stand have to be at an angle of 90 degrees. I'll have to ask Brian if we can boot up if the flute in this position.

Q: If I did play it up and down I have another question. I was wondering if you mounted the flute on the table and extended the plastic mouthpiece about 1 foot you could keep the flute on the table and it would be more stable than on the stand.

You can extend the plastic mouthpiece, that is no problem. But the longer the mouthpiece the more head movement is needed to change the pitch. Maybe another arm stand would solve your problem.

Q: Do You know what diameter straw is used for the mouthpiece?


Q: I'm a home ventilation user, can I still play the Magic Flute.

Yes proberbly most home ventilator users can. One of my students, Marco, uses a home ventilator. He plays the Magic Flute. I think that if you can speak, you could also get sound out of the Magic Flute.

The biggest problem Marco has is that he almost can't move his head at all. But even that won't stop him playing as we can use some nice software programs like E-Scape or MIDIox that enables Marco to play some really groovy tunes and/or sounds.