Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Jen's Fave Rave Etude List



Dear Flute-lovers,
There was a question this week on one of the flute groups, all about advanced flute etudes. I thought that it might be helpful to collect all my Fave-Rave Flute Etude information in one place.

So here are my ravings, with as many links as I can locate.
Enjoy!
 I love Etudes that are gorgeous and
Etudes that are oh so not horri-blech!
How about you?

Jen's Fave Etudes: by level of difficulty.

NOVICE:

If you only buy one book for first time lessons (novice):

1. Blakeman Vol. 1 "The Flute Player's Companion"
http://www.musicroom.com/se/id_no/04802/details.html

-------------
Enjoyable Etudes: Fundamental daily exercises, short, nice to hear:

2. Galli Primo Grado op. 309 (free):
http://www.scribd.com/doc/26886272/Exercicio-Di-Primo-Grado-Op-1-309-Raffaello-Galli

3. Quantz - 100 Exercises for Frederick the Great
http://www.fluteworld.com/One_Hundred_Daily_Exercises.html

---------------
If you only buy one book for novice-to-intermediate:

4. Drouet - 25 Famous Etudes
http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/25-etudes-sheet-music/5876611

____________________ end novice level

INTERMEDIATE:

If you only buy one-to-two books for intermediate:

5. "99 Solos & Studies for Flute"
 (first half of book, 2nd half is more advanced) from www.fluteworthy.com.au 
http://jennifercluff.blogspot.ca/2011/05/99-solos-and-studies-from-australia.html

6. Berbiguer 18 Etudes
http://www.amazon.com/Berbiguier-Eighteen-Exercises-Etudes-Flute/dp/0793554047

Free but marked:
 http://imslp.org/wiki/18_Exercises_or_Etudes_for_Flute_(Berbiguier,_Tranquille)

---------------------------

7. Hughes 24 Studes opus 32& 75 
http://www.justsheetmusic.com/sheet-music/hughes-24-studies-op-32-75/
( Or on CDsheetmusic at: http://www.cdsheetmusic.com/products/disk_contents.php?product=46 
from www.cdsheetmusic.com)

8. Staccato arpeggio studies (free):

Ribas,José Maria "aire suizo" pdf 

Cristaldi "Arpeggio" at Fluteunes

9. J.S. Bach 24 Concert Studies (the easier ones) Free:
http://www.4shared.com/office/js8Yrw0U/Bach_-_24_Flute_Concert_Studie.html

10. Donjon 8 Salon Etudes with Caprices:
http://www.fluteworld.com/Eight_Etudes_de_Salon_Five_Solos_or_Caprices.html

11. Kummer 32 Amusantes op. 129 (Free):
http://imslp.org/wiki/32_%C3%89tudes_amusantes_et_instructives,_Op.129_(Kummer,_Kaspar)

12. Latin Etude by Mark Perry (was free online, but no longer can locate source; very fun rhythms; hope the composer puts it online again.)

-----------------------
Complex patterning: Intermediate to Advanced (FREE):

Andersen Etudes;
Opus numbers in order of difficulty: 41, 37, 33, 21, 30, 15.

All free at:
http://www.kb.dk/da/nb/samling/ma/digmus/jo_and.html

______________________end intermediate level

ADVANCED:

Beautiful and Melodious

13. Camus - Six Grandes Etudes opus 10
http://www.fluteworld.com/Six_Grandes_Etudes_Op10_M_and_P_bk4_.html


If you only buy one or two books for Intermediate-Advanced:
----------------------
14.Cohen -  Bel Canto Flute The Rampal School
http://www.winzerpress.com/

15. Stallman - The Flutist's Detache book
http://www.amazon.com/The-Flutists-Detache-Book-Stallman/dp/B003AGYSPE

====================

VERY ADVANCED ETUDES:

Expressive Etudes - Laura Barron
Boehm 24 Caprices
Paganini 24 Caprices
Six Tango Etudes by Piazzolla
Zgraja Flamenco Etudes

Etudes by: Bozza, JeanJean, etc. (ask your teacher for more titles.) are good for learning to read complex modern rhythms etc.

==============================
More information on how to work on Flute Etudes:

How to work on Etudes:
http://jennifercluff.blogspot.ca/2009/11/how-to-learn-etudes.html

List of etudes by grade:
http://www.jennifercluff.com/etude.htm

Beginner Etudes:
http://jennifercluff.blogspot.ca/2008/11/beginner-novice-level-studies-or-etudes.html

Intermediate to Advanced etudes ; 99 solos and studies:
http://jennifercluff.blogspot.ca/2011/05/99-solos-and-studies-from-australia.html

More flute etudes online (intermediate):
http://jennifercluff.blogspot.ca/2011/02/e-is-for-excellence-e-is-for-etudes.html

Monster Etudes: GAK! (advanced etudes how-to)
http://jennifercluff.blogspot.ca/2012/09/1-monster-etudes-gak.html

De-Monstering 'tudes:
http://jennifercluff.blogspot.ca/2012/09/2-de-monstering-tudes.html

___________________________
Advanced Etudes recommended:
http://www.jennifercluff.com/reading.htm
(links provided at site above):

QUOTE from above reading list:
Almost all the books below are available at www.fluteworld.com or www.justflutes.com

Roger Mather - Author
The Art of Playing the Flute. Vol. 1 Breathing, Vol. II Embouchure Vol. III Posture, Fingers, Resonances, Tonguing, Vibrato
If you are looking for explanations for every facet of playing the flute well, then then three volume set of workbooks by Mather are unsurpassed. Every pointer and experiment you could possibly need are covered in his three volumes. You can use each experiment many times over the years to correct tone problems, and to ascertain flexibility in breathing, embouchure and tone colour. Highly recommended. E-book/pdf is only $22. Available on Jen Cluff's Blog. (here)

 Fiona Wilkinson:
The Physical Flute - great book for learning to relax and poise
posture while playing, and releasing tension for a soaring tone. Also
good info. for using vowel dynamics, playing soft high register etc.

Werner Richter:
Conditioning Training for the Flutist - a fabulous, detailed
explanation of all embouchure changes and suggestions for easiest
positions for maximum results (dramatic tone colours, easy high
register, very easy large-interval slurs etc.)

Sheryl Cohen:
Bel Canto Flute ~ The Rampal School - great focus on articulation with
breath support on every note. Terrific collection of pieces (Bach
etc.) and etudes studied with Rampal and Marion and all technical
notes made during 10 years of study.

Walfrid Kujala:
The Flutist's Vade Mecum - great resource for stabilizing fingerings
in fast and slow playing of scales, arpeggios and sequences. Very
relaxing, good fingering charts, very calming approach to finger
technique.

Robert Dick:
Tone Development Through Extended Technique - best book for developing
core of the sound through singing-playing, throat tuning, vowel
placement of interval leaps etc. Huge number of fingerings for
extended technique tone colours etc.

-------------------------------
Etudes ~ Jen's Current Favourites: Advanced.

Paul Edmund-Davies - 28 Day Warmup - for intermediate/advanced flutists; highly intelligent and useful warmups and interval daily exercises. Highly recommended. Davies also has demonstration videos online.

Robert Stallman:
 The Bach Handbook - excellent intermediate level one-page studies
taken from suites, partitas and keyboard works. Beautifully editted.
Make terrific warmups (as do Julius Baker's Bach collections from
Arias and Oratorios.)

Robert Stallman:
The Flutist's Detache Book - for advanced students. Fabulous book with
hundreds of studies and pieces for single, and multiple tonguing.
Excellent in all respects!
-----------------------------------
Old standards, favourites:

Marcel Moyse: Titles:
 De La Sonorite - best ever tone development book
 Exercises Journaliers - great book for all finger technique
Twenty-four Melodious Studies with Variations - explains
simplification of etudes vs. the addition of variations that add
complications
Gammes et Arpeges - a dictionary of every possible arpeggio and scale
sequence
Tone Development Through Interpretation - opera melodies to be played
in all registers with all dynamics; focus is on vocal quality and
extensive colouration and phrasing.
--------------------------

Enjoy working on your etudes and daily skill-building.
I like the fun, beautiful and melodious 'tudes, and I love simpler tuneful etudes for warming up staccato tonguing etc.
Very restful to visit old favourites.
Very nice to avoid horriblech opus 60s! ha!

Best, Jen


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Thoughtful performances - Baroque, Romantic, Contemporary

Dear Flute-lovers,

In addition to the Rampal films, there are quite a few thoughtful performances I've seen this week that are worth watching. Claudio Barile kindly sent these films of his recital from two weeks ago (completely memorizied and mezmerizing.)

Then, one of my favourite flutists for rounded sound and colourful thoughtful playing, Lorna McGhee plays a Contemporary work from the 20th century.

James Galway plays a wonderful show-stopper where you want to ask: "Where can I buy those lips??"
But then you say: "Where can I get my mitts on a pair of mitts like THAT?"
Oh dear......hahhahahaa.

And there's a wooden flute Baroque performance by expert Rachel Brown.
So enjoy!

 This particular list of videos also might help any flute students recognize the style and historical period of popular flute works. I had a student asking me this week "Where do I go next with all my tone and phrasing, and breathing, and sightreading and all the pieces I'm learning?"
I answered: "We are going to learn to play in the style of all the different musical periods of history."
No small task. ha ha.

I loved all of these performances below for their intensity and focus. Enjoy! :>)
Best, Jen
____________________________________________
1. J.S. Bach - Historical period: BAROQUE
Flutist: Claudio Barile
Title: Bach BWV 1035 E Major Sonata: (video)




_____________________________________________
2. Schulhoff - Historical period: CONTEMPORARY 20th Century
Flutist: Lorna McGhee
Title: Schulhoff Sonata: (video)




Jen's Ear-Safe advice for above film:

Beware of loud commercial at beginning; turn your volume down just in case.
Why? I listen to flute at "I'm actually playing the flute" high volume levels and hate commercials.

__________________________

3. Morlacchi - Historical Period: ROMANTIC - Popular 19th Century Showstoppers

Flutist: James Galway:
Title:  "The Swiss Shepherd" - Il Pastore Svizzero by composer: Morlacchi (video)





Other styles to listen to and look for (recommended films welcome! Just comment below!):


EXTENDED TECHNIQUE & CONTEMPORARY

CLASSICAL (Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart)

BAROQUE (Pergolesi, Tartini, Vivaldi, CPE Bach)

FRENCH IMPRESSIONIST (Debussy, Ravel, Gaubert, Faure)

TWENTIETH CENTURY ACADEMIC (Hindemith etc.)

TWENTIETH CENTURY ECLECTIC

EXOTIC (Ethnic, Dance, Improvised, Creative Mix of Styles).


4. Bonus Listening if you enjoy Baroque music: On Wooden Flute
Flutist: Rachel Brown (audio only, no visual) (video 1st mvmt.)
Composer: Leclair - Title: Flute Concerto in C Major, Opus 7 No.3.
(2nd slow mvmt. video 2 gives best close, tone listening).

5. Thought of the day: Air-speed while leaping

I've been teaching my students about constant air flow throughout a phrase, and about not dropping down and popping up with their rate of air flow.

For example, if you drop your rate of air-flow down to 20 miles an hour for a descent to a very low note, you will then have to pump the lungs to boost the air-speed back up to 90 miles an hour for a leap to a high note; and that's alot of uncessary work.
Typically we'll miss the high note because the air-speed change is too sudden and we're giving ourselves a huge wide error range to shoot at.

It's hard to make air-speed changes that are so different from each other.
Why not find out a small range of air-speed so that both notes are closer together?

So instead of dropping and boosting (saying to the high note "I'm going to pump you up!"), find an slightly higher rate of air-speed that allows good tone in both the high and low parts of the phrase; in both loud and soft areas of the phrase.
Instead of 10 miles per hour to a hundred miles an hour, why not 60 to 90?
Or 70 to 100?
Then your low notes won't be soggy and soft, and your high notes screechy and splatted. :>)

Example:
You can play a high G at anywhere from 50 to 100 miles per hour (soft to loud).
To make it really ring forte and projecting, you'll want to play with faster air.

You can play a low G at  10 miles per hour, but it doesn't sound very good. It doesn't have good tone and doesn't project well in a concert. So ten miles an hour is too low.
Play some gorgeous forte longtones and find out how fast an airspeed you can play a low G with.
Listen to it ring out. Estimate the speed (all speeds are imaginary; they're just a device so you can talk about air-speed with other flutists.)

While experimenting, if you crescendo on a gorgeous low G, you'll find that at a hypothetical 40 to 70 miles an hour, the tone quality on a low G sounds better, more full, more resonant, more projecting.

If you were in a large hall performing, you'd likely be using 60 miles an hour for a low G with resonance and colour.

So, how can you lessen the range of air-speeds to make yourself work less?

Stay in the range of the faster air speed:

Example:
When you're slurring downward from high G to a low G, you could start at 90 miles an hour, and only drop the airspeed down to 70 miles an hour. This leaves you in range to jump back up easily again.

The same in reverse:

If you're playing a good loud low G with resonant tone and you want to leap up to a resonant and centered high G, you would stay within the high end of the air-speed range for both: 70-90.

This is easier than dropping down to 10 and then trying to leap up to 90 again.

A sustained fast amount of air allows the leaps to be more graceful and smoothly modulated by a flexible embouchure.
The most common fault of student flutists is using too little air speed for a given note. (it's flat, it cracks, it drops, it sounds lack-luster).

So instead of under-blowing, over-blow a bit and find out what "too much air-speed" is for a given note and then modify it down to "beautiful". When it's beautiful, name the air-speed.
Then remember it.

Listening:
When you listen to the three performances above, listen to the "miles per hour" of the air speed of these performers in each phrase.

Do you notice how they don't drop the air speed down to 20 mph in the middle of the phrase?
They project their sound to an audience, and that means approx 60 to 90 miles per hour on average throughout all their dynamics and octave changes.
They are not playing in a small room, so they have no need to drop their air supply any lower.

Check it out, just listening to air speed.
Very interesting!
Love to hear comments.....
Best, Jen




Rampal Masterclass in NY 1978

Dear Flute Lovers,

A wonderful new addition to the wide world of flute fascination: a 1978 documentary taken of Jean Pierre Rampal teaching a masterclass in New York City.

Part 1 - Interview with Rampal (video)


Part Two: Masterclass in NY 1978 (video)

Rampal plays Faure Fantaisie opening, and parts of Carnival of Venice & Carmen:


Things to listen/watch for:

In Rampal's playing:
- a sense of humour, style and joy while playing
- a rounder, darker, sweeter tone quality than some contemporary orchestral players today*
- an admission that when you perform this much, you do not always practice like you did as a student (this is often much quoted, but never substantiated until now.)
- while playing Syrinx, Rampal's left pinky finger moves below the Ab lever, and at the end, reaches for a low LH4 key that is no longer there.....?
- keys tilting slightly backwards
- upper lip pulled down very obviously

In student's playing:
- posture of shoulders hunching forward (look for the Doppler video with Rampal and Wilson and compare teacher's and student's posture).
- severe backward tilt of keys in some students.
- less humour, sense of style and joy while playing (less at ease, obviously, than seasoned professional). The students are very intense in body language.

Comments welcome.
P.S. I attended a Rampal Masterclass in Toronto in 1978! Might that have been this tour??

Best, Jen
__________________________
*Flute Tone Quality Question: About Rampal.

An email arrived with this question for me:

Rampal always sounded sweeter than most of today's modern flutists.
What created this change?
Some principal flutists today really hurt my ears.
What can you tell me about this? K.

Reply: Dear K.

There are several factors:

- microphone placement
- remixing of the sound quality on professional productions by professional sound engineers who "sweeten the flute sound" during re-mix.
- Rampal may have played a darker-sweeter-more-oval-cut headjoint (Did he play a gold Haynes? Was it rounder sounding, like a headjoint by Louis Lot? Comments welcome.)
- some modern players use a bigger, louder, higher spectrum and more projecting sounds due to playing with huge loud orchestras where the flute has to cut through. This can lead to hiss if the microphone is too close or if the venue is unforgiving.

Here are some listening examples:

1. Microphone placement:
__________________
Example: Harsh - too close:
David Formisano plays Doppler Valaques (video)

This was recorded with a video camera placed too close in a hard-surfaced hall.
The hiss and high overtones that are acceptable at a distance are made more harsh.
__________________
Example: Blended - from above the orchestra plus in front of the orchestra (stage front)
David Formisano plays Bellini (video)

This is the same player as in the first example, but heard from a distance, cutting through a huge stage, huge orchestra, and lush orchestration. The rounded sound that results from the mic placement is more acceptable to the ear.
_______________________
Example: Mic is ultra-distant:
This home-made type recording has a microphone placement that sounds like it is halfway back in the hall, over the audience perhaps? There is no microphone on stage to capture the near sound we prefer as flutists.
Sharon Bezaly plays Faure Fantaisie op. 79 (video)

This sound quality does not give a clear idea of the close-up tone quality of the player but is acceptable to a non-flutist listener.
___________________

Also of interest:

2. Rampal playing softly then loudly in two different venues:

Compare studio playing on this recording:

Jean Pierre Rampal - Moon Over Ruined Castle by Taki (video)

This would have been remixed and balanced to allow repeated listening without ear-fatigue.
_______________________
To a studio recording of full concert hall:

Rampal - Romberg Concerto - (video)

I believe Rampal's choice of tone quality in  what sounds like a large venue, is as driving (shrill, with upper harmonics, some hiss, very projecting, with very fast air speed) and is similar to that heard from some large-orchestra principal flutists today. It's not my preference either.
But the flute must cut through much louder instruments at times and sometimes it is pushing past the boundaries of "easy on the ears" at close range. Especially when it's a huge venue and the microphones are in the wrong places, or badly mixed.

In general I prefer the balance in tone quality flutists use in very good acoustic spaces.
I don't appreciate the "harsh" qualities, as you say.
_____________

Another player with a generally "darker" tone quality for solo playing, similar  to the round, French sound preferred by Rampal:

William Bennett plays Mel Bonis Sonata (video)



Try and guess the microphone placement and hall size of the above Bennett performance.
How far is it from the player?
How much echo is in the hall?
How audible is the flute in quiet dynamics in an echo-filled small hall?
Listen and imagine the answer.
Then try out your sound in various spaces.
Put your recording microphone in different placements in each venue.
It's all a big, fascinating experiment.
Amazing what you'll discover.
:>)

Hope this quick overview helps explain a little more about this complex topic.
Flute players need to match their tone quality to their performing situation.

Best, Jen


Friday, February 07, 2014

3. Practising Musical Line - Tartini Andante

Dear Flute Lovers,
Well thank you for your patience! I've been doing so many flute-related things I can barely blog! ha ha!
I've been arranging scores of scores into glorious flute trios, for my students, and of course, working on inputting into Sibelius all the flutey warmups and exercises for my book (which is still not anywhere near close to ready, so don't hold your breath....) (...breathe, flutists....by all means BREATHE :>)

But here is another installment of the "musical line" series, and I'm using a piece I love: the slow movement of ' The Tartini G Major Concerto'. (Schirmer published sheetmusic here.)

You can love it as much as I do by listening to James Galway play it on his CD of Italian Baroque Concerti (listen to his breath choices in the slow mvmt! Brilliant "catch up breaths" to prepare for long phrases), and you can play the simplified outline to show how it works using this pdf:



One of the things that happens with intermediate flute students is that they become introduced gradually to more and more complex written music, and they continue on as they did as beginners, by trying to read every single little trill and grace note and fast 32nd, painstakingly hammering them out at very slow speeds.

However with intermediate and more advanced flute solos, this can lead to very choppy, very breathless, very stumble-filled interpretations at their next lesson; all of which then has to be UN-learned.

So the trick is to not learn the piece the wrong way first (saving you having to UN-learn it a week later.)

You instead simplify the complex-looking piece of music, line by line, into the bare-bones of a simple musical line. You eliminate all the trills, all the grace notes, all the passing and neighbouring tones, and just leave the outline. 

This outline can be practiced with:

a) great centered tone
b) tone colours (as needed)
c) dynamics
d) realistic breathing
e) musical line and direction
f) gorgeous phrasing and meaning

Then you put the tiny extra-decorative notes back in and the outline underneathe is still perfect and beautiful.

Hugely recommended.
See all this happen in the one page practice Jen Tartini pdf here.

For a more complete view of how to create musical line, I highly highly recommend this book:

by David McGill

The above book by McGill is wonderful; easy to read, and absolutely comprehensive. It explains oboist Tabuteau's numbering system, it explains all the ins and outs of how to play simply and beautifully. It's not about tens of thousands of hours of pracitising, it's about seeing inside the music and allowing the simplicity (or complexity) to be easily understood.
Then you weave your way through it with easy fingers, easy breathing, and the direction of the musical lines are far more easy to work out in practise than any amount of complicated practising.

Try it out and send feedback (use comment button below.)

Hope this inspires!

Best, Jen

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Happy New Year & Pahud Masterclasses

Dear Flute Lovers,
 Happy New Year one and all! :>)
 I intend to come back to the endlessly interesting topic of "musical line" soon. Funnily enough, I spent some of of the holidays reading "How can you play the oboe if you can't peel a mushroom?" about Marcel Tabuteau. ha ha. So you just know I'm dedicated to uncovering all the best musical conundrums But meanwhile, thanks to an astute flute friend who alerted me to some new Pahud videos on youtube, why not listen to Pahud teach in New York?
These are great moments!
Here are two of the four edited videos.
Fabulously corroborative!
Lots of layers of skills at this level.
Comments welcome.

 Best, Jen

 Masterclass on Samuel Zyman's Flute Sonata:video.

 Lowell Liebermann's Flute Sonata:video.
 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2. Musical Line - Outlining & Breath Energy

Dear Flute lovers,

Here are two pictures from Kincaidiana (the flute teachings of William Kincaid) by John Krell.
I mean, good heavens, these pictures say a thousand words for all flute players.

Look at the way he depicts breath energy; in miles per hour!


From Kincaidiana: pg. 40 (click to enlarge)

And see the sustained direction and releasing energy of the swan dive!
This shows the direction of your air-speed and breath intensity, and it depicts the resulting forward motion and freeness of line in the music.



From Kincaidiana: pg. 40 (click to enlarge)

Increasing the air speed before you leap up an octave.

Jen adds:
Note: Kincaid depicts 10 miles per hour going to 20 miles per hour.
As I use "miles per hour" as an imaginary air-speed range in my teaching I use more degrees when I discuss this with students. For example, you could say  up to 110 miles per hour (for a high C) and down to only 30 miles an hour for a good quality low note. The range of air-speeds can be much broader when you use this as a method of catagorizing all possible sensations in projecting a given flute note with full tone.


And here's what William Kincaid said about flute playing: 
From Kincaidiana: pg. 40-41

Quote is paraphrased and edited:
______________________________________________
"Interval slurs resemble a swan dive, from the spring board of the onset of energy to the soaring glide, over and down again.

Or you can visualize this kind of energy as the torso strength and agile changes made by the weight lifter.

The same procedure applies to all intervals, no matter how large or small.

The intensity is raised or lowered on the preceding note. (play warmth of tone quality between the notes)

Avoid the scooops and slurps of a bad vocalist.

THINK this motion don't actually do it.

 Thinking it is enough."
_______________________________________________

And here's how I teach the above using outlining:

Outlining for energetic phrasing:

Telemann (easy):

A simple way to practice musical line is to simplify a piece of music into its basic outline.
Play the outline with good energy and tone, and then fill in the original notes.
Practicing this way gives you so much goodness, with very little effort.


Here's an example from Telemann.
(click to enlarge)


If you practice the simple melodic outline, and next practice the original music,  all slurred, you will hear an immediate musical improvement. Everything can be practiced this way; first in outline and then as written. When you simplify and slur you naturally will use dynamics to shape the phrases, giving them energy, movement and life. Then when you return to the original the musical line is already learned.

Bach Outlines:

For intermediate flutists, here is an outline that first shows you the underlying harmony notes, those that are most common, and then adds in the melody created out of the main notes in each bar.
When you are practicing the basic drone notes, make your tone warm, inviting, lovely and consistently gorgeous. That will set up your air stream and embouchure for adding more notes to the common notes.


Like breaking an alphabet code, first of all you have to discover the most common note in each bar.
It will either be the longest, the most often repeated, or it will SOUND like the principal note.

                                                                                        (click to enlarge)

Playing only the main notes of each bar gives you the melodic shape of the phrase.
The above simplified drone of a long B and a long E allow you to center your tone and add dynamic motion.


Then, since you've already practiced the above to get your breath moving and shaping, you look for the melody that's created from each of the main beats in a bar.
All you're doing is leaving out the decorative notes, and outlining the main tune.


                                                                                (click to enlarge)


When you finally play the melody as written, your shaping and energy and motion in the musical line is already established, and the music is just so much richer (and so much easier to play smoothly and with intention.)




(click to enlarge)

I just love this easy way to start creating gorgeous phrasing and line.
Let me know how these samples sound to you, as you play them.
Does it work for you?

(It works for my students, but they are also hearing it, from me playing it,  at the same time as looking at the outlines and imagining the energy of their own air moving forward.)

Comments welcome.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

1 Understanding Musical Line

Part 1. Understanding the line and other shapes in music

I have been speaking to my flute students quite a bit lately about discovering shapes in their music.

(Illustration is an excerpt from "Kincadiana" by John Krell. Click on it to enlarge.)

In flute we use musical line to direct our phrases, our breathing, and our energy. We learn when to expend energy, when to save it, and when to emphasize the direction, and when not to.
I plan to write on that  in several posts over the next week or two. (let's hope.:>)

In the beginning,  it's about recognizing when the flute is actually singing the parts of two voices, or one, or three. These questions arise even in Bach's simplest melodies.

And in very simple terms finding the musical line is about whether the ascending line is adding energy; and the air speed is rising.

Is the bass note implied to remain ringing in the mind's ear?

Is the melodic figure being sung in the descant?
Where are the arpeggios heading?
Where's the goal point? Where's the climax of the idea?

To me this is one of the most fascinating topics, and I have some practical, physical flutey input for beginners on this journey of discovery.
So in the meantime, while I gather my tiny thoughts, here is a terrific depiction of musical shapes and line, using piano music visualizations.

It totally shows the concept of "shape" and relationships of musical lines, in real time. (youtube)

James Boyk, solo piano - Debussy, Reflets dans l'eau (Reflections in the water)



More on this topic in upcoming posts. But meantime, enjoy the discoveries you'll make between your eyes and your ears. What? It's a human interpretation brain! ha ha.
Fascinating stuff. And it's all accessible with human imagination! What an artistic pallet to bring to your simplest tunes!
Best,
Jen
_____________
Sept 26th:
P.S.
More from this music animator:

Debussy Arabesque No.1 (youtube)
This is a fantastic example of showing impulsive pulse, and flexible rhythmic groove. Just goes to show how metronomes don't work for polishing the moving and flexy rhythms in your Debussy!


 

Pianist - Stephen Malinowski (who created these music animations)


Best, Jen

Go to part 2 of this article series:  Musical Line  - Outlining and Breath Energy




Sunday, September 22, 2013

Armstrong plays too sharp

Dear Jen
I've read your article on selecting an intermediate flute.  Do you still recommend looking at those same models?  I've been playing an Armstrong 80B for 34 years, I've had it serviced regularly and told it is in great shape, however I'm always sharp when tuning with the local concert band and have to pull the headpiece halfway out.  The more I read about the changes in flutes over the last 30 years I've come to the conclusion it's time to upgrade.  I would like to stay around $2,000 for a new flute.

It's hard to find Azumi 3000 in Illinois as that model is no longer in production.  Also how do you find a store with multiple flutes of the same model in stock?  I just found out Woodwind and Brasswind no longer has a store in Indiana.  I could take a 6 hour drive to Fluteworld in Michigan but would think there should be someplace in the Chicago area.
Thank you in advance for your advice. G.

____________________
Reply from Jen:

Dear G.

If your Armstrong is playing well, then it's probably okay.
But if it's playing sharp there are several causes:

1. The cork is too far inward, in the headjoint (check with cleaning rod mark)

2. The way you are playing is causing the flute to sound sharp (so check with a flute teacher who can take your flute, play it into a tuner, and determine if it's you or your flute that is playing sharp, or if it's your method of playing.)

3. Your band is playing consistently flat (unlikely, but possible; check their tuning standard)

4. When you tune with and play with the band you are matching their loudness by playing very loudly and thus blowing too hard. This can make you "blow sharp". A hot band room can also make flutes very sharp.

5. Most likely: you are jutting your jaw forward and/or using smiley embouchure, or pressing the chin plate too high into your lower lip.
                                 
         (see lots more on number 5 below - just scroll down to the green and goofy cartoon)

So firstly take an electronic tuner to band rehearsals, in order to figure out whether the tuning note they're playing is actually  A-440. If it is, then when you're home again, use the tuner or the Tuning CD  to learn to play at A-440 at home. A-440 is a standard measurement that can be repeatable at home especially if you use the Tuning CD to develop your ear in all keys.

And don't force yourself to play loudly for awhile in band. If the room they're in makes them play really raucously, wear foam earplugs (.50 cents) or cone shaped yellow earplugs ($10). That will help you hear better. And if their room is so hot that all the flutes are sharp, then yes, it will be a challenge to pull out the headjoint far enough without making the flute out of tune with itself between octaves. (But if it was that hot, you'd be asking about "chin sweat", ha ha.)

When you do practice at home and play in band, aim your air lower, down into the flute, and drop your jaw open. (more on that below.)

It's unusual for an Armstrong to play so sharp you have to pull out the headjoint that far. Is it really a half inch? Measuring the exact amount with a millimeter ruler, or, even easier, putting a straight line on the headjoint tenon where your headjoint is drawn to would be useful, so later you can determine if things have changed as you work toward lowering your pitch.
Marking it with a "shiny surfaces" black marker can be helpful, for later comparisons, when you've matched the Tuning CD etc. Then you can use that same mark in band.

You may not in fact need a flute upgrade, but yes, Azumis are still being made and can be sent out to you if you request; they've just changed the model numbers. They're supplied by Jupiter Band Instrument company to any shop in the U.S. if you contact the parent company. Just get in touch with the sales rep. at Jupiter company in the U.S. They have no problem sending out sets of instruments. They've done it here, and we're remote-ish.

The Azumi 3000 (the one I recommend on my webpage about choosing a flute) has simply changed its model number from "3000" to "AZ3". They are basically the same flute with a few changes, I hear.
link : Azumi AZ3

Here's how to navigate Fluteworld's site, for those who want to know good brands of flutes and their current prices. Go to Fluteworld; Click on Instruments in the top menu, then choose Flutes, . You can then check the brands, or go directly by clicking on AZUMI in the left sidebar.
You can see all the brands recommended by the very knowledgable staff at: www.fluteworld.com
on the left side bar. They have several decent flutes in the $2000 price range.And in my opinion, yes, it is worth travelling there to try them all.

A six hour trip is also what I have to take when trying muliple 'identical' flute models where I live.

Yes, all the recommendations I made on my website about flute brands still hold true. But there are several new brands that I haven't tried yet. Also, it takes several years of wear and tear to find out how their longevity is, so I need students to own certain brands so I can comment on their ability to stand the test of time, which is what you want in an "investment" flute above $2000.

Now, if it turns out that it is the way that your are blowing your flute (too shallowly at the mouthpiece) that's making your current flute sound sharp, the new flutes like Azumi, which are at A-442 in
pitch, will not help you easily play flatter. Quite the opposite.

 Many of the newer instruments today are at A-442. This requires the flutist to adjust over their first six months to draw out the headjoint more, blow lower and play flatter.

So this is another reason to have your current flute tested by a fluteteacher with a tuner and a good ability to demonstrate. You could even record the lesson so you can hear your flute being played at a lower pitch, to prove that it's possible.

What if it turns out that it was simply an air-angling technique you just aren't using?

How to fix sharp playing: in general.

In the case of shallow, sharp playing the usual corrections are:

- Drop your jaw open at the hinges

- Leave your jaw open when you play (leave the molars of your back teeth far apart like a carrot stick is between them). Leave your tongue down.

- Learn to gradually place the flute slightly lower and lower on your chin, because you may have been letting the lip-plate 'ride too high' on your lower lip. The pressure of the lip plate, lowering the chin plate and all these experiments are covered in "The Art of Playing the Flute" by Roger Mather.

- Use the upper lip to aim the airstream downward, at a lower angle. Using a clock face analogy; if your nose is noon, and your chin is six-o'clock, then you want the air angle to be aimed at five or 4 o'clock.

- to lengthen the air-reed, you may find you graually have to roll the flute outward by a half-millimeter at a time,  if the new. more downward aiming upper lip is causing squelched tone quality because you were originally 'too rolled in".

- change all these things gradually with the help of a professional "coach" who is an experienced flute teacher. Otherwise you might boggle your own mind on changes you did not need to make.



Self taught players can't usually navigate these changes all at once, as they tend to blur together at first.

So having a hands-on coach at this point (an experienced teacher) will help you focus on each new sensation one at a time, and help guide your ear to the fastest results. So don't over analyse, right now; just go for a few lessons and present the situation to the teacher just the way you did to me.
They should be able to sort you out without having to go through every possible avenue; but just focus on your learning style, and how much info. you can use from week to week.





(click on the picture to enlarge it to read.)


There's quite a bit on this very multi-leveled learning topic at these links to previous blog posts too, but take the lessons first, and then "touch up" with the articles. It's a bit too much to teach yourself. But some are able to make the changes quite quickly. Just depends if you can get experienced coaching.

More on this topic from previous blog posts:

Jaw Jutting; is your jaw jutting too much?



Flute too sharp? Too breathy? Are you smiling?


James Galway video of embouchure exercise for non-smiling.


Jen's own video links for Embouchure Flexibility and a letter from a currently lowering flute player.


If anyone has other tuning problems.....
Also see: Articles:

Help, I play sharp in the high register!


Why is my flute always flat?


Help I play flat on the lowest notes on the flute.


Flute Tuning articles: how to use the Tuning CD etc.


Flute Buying articles: brands I recommend.


Comments from others with experience in this are certainly welcome!
Just use the comment button below.

Best,
Jen