The Key Method bases scales on the tonic key of the flute.

 
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3
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E Major
E
F#
G#
A
B
C#
D#
E Dorian
E
F#
G
A
B
C#
D
E Phrygian
E
F  
 G 
A
  
B
D

To try to play different modes such as Dorian and Phrygian starting with the bottom hole note as the tonic (as in this example of the E flute) is relatively difficult, because we're forced to go into those "gray areas" where we have to use half-hole coverings or alternate fingerings. That's all very well if our technique and talent are up to the task; but in any case it's easier to play the modes as in the previous examples of the Modal Method, starting from the appropriate place relative to the major scale.

If you are jamming with musicians who want to play a tune in E Dorian, for example, you will have the easiest time of it if you can pull out a D flute from your collection and use the Modal Method. Not only is the fingering easier, but there is another strong advantage of the Modal Method.

By starting or resolving a melody on a hole higher than the bottom one, there is somewhere to go below the tonic. When your tonic note of the scale or melody is always on the bottom hole (Key Method), it's limiting because you can never go under it. (So with the Indian bamboo flute, scales are taught with the tonic at the fourth hole, leaving plenty of room for exploration below the tonic. For the same reason it's a good choice to use a D flute to play in G Major, as illustrated in the example earlier.) For our purposes here, we will favor the Modal Method but provide a set of charts also for those who prefer the Key Method.

The Key Method could be considered not so much a method of playing, but rather a method of visualizing and comparing the different scales based on a given key, as a cross-reference. For instance, in the case of E Dorian played on an E flute (above example), we can see at a glance that this minor key requires the flatted (grayed) third and seventh notes of the major scale.

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