Cooperman McDonagh Models

The profiled bores of the Cooperman Concert Fifes and the Cooperman McDonagh Fifes bring improved intonation to the traditional fife.  The two piece design allows for these bore designs, as well as for fine tuning at the joint and the use of additional tone holes to address the half-hole issues.  The distinction between a “fife” and a “band flute” in period records is vague; although most will agree that military field music “fifes” were more likely one piece, six hole instruments like our Traditional Fife above, the two piece fife has enjoyed great popularity in fife & drum corps since at least the early nineteen-sixties. For material and key information, see Basics.

The McDonagh fife was developed in New York by the renowned fifer, instructor, and composer John McDonagh over 50 years ago and remains a widely popular instrument; we are honored to have Mr. McDonagh’s support in making this classic fife available. The McDonagh Model fifes differ from the Cooperman Concert Models in the design of the bore and the placement of the finger holes, and are perhaps most well-known for their full low register.

Six Hole Model
This fife has the popular and traditional 6 tone holes, with several notes of the chromatic scale requiring the use of half-holes.

Ten Hole Model
The addition of the extra holes allows the fifer to play without half-hole fingerings, which some fifers feel allows for improved speed and accuracy.  This McDonagh Model features the 6 main tone holes along with 2 pinky register holes, a double hole at the fifth finger position, and one thumb register hole.  See (link to Cooperman Concert Models) for an alternative hole layout.

Note: There were McDonagh Model fifes that were made with 11 holes for a period of time.  This fife had the standard McDonagh 10 hole arrangement, but added an extra thumb hole; the fifer could choose to keep the extra thumb hole closed and use the small register hole at the 5th finger position, or to keep that small register hole covered and use the 2nd thumb hole instead.  This fife has not been made for some time now, with consensus being that the Cooperman design suits fifers who want 2 thumb holes, and the McDonagh design suits fifers who want the small register hole.
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