Monday, November 24, 2008

Part 2 of Tone, Technique, & Releasing unecessary flute tensions....

Following the topic of tension, release, tone and technique from my previous post, I'd like to share some stimulating visual examples:

The goal of being relaxed when you're relaxed:
This is the famous youtube clip that might be re-exciting audiences about symphonic music. These instrumentalists are so well trained and so well-rehearsed that they are physically joyous and free while playing a complex composition:

Mambo from West Side Story
Venezuala Youth Orchestra on tour

Now, the same young orchestra playing Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony.
Watch the next video and notice that in challengingly complex and pretissimo-tempo orchestral music, these young musicians play with a physical unity that does not betray excess tension.

Fast tempo and relaxed woodwind technique
Shostakovich 10, 2nd mvmt. Allegro:

Now watch the same Shostakovich Symphony no. 10 Allegro.
It's the same mvmt. but a different orchestra
notice the tension levels in the three different flutists.
The eldest, first flute, is as poised and low-tension as possible:

For comparision, notice the effort in emoting through pure sound that takes place in the 4th mvmt, at a very slow tempo, sustained-intensity woodwind technique:

Shostakovich 10 4th mvmt:

These film clips make a very interesting study.
I relate them to the goals of practising "technique".
A practising flutist wants to be released of excess tension so that the technique allows you to simply fly through the music, riding on a captivating rhythmic pulse, and blending with all those around you in your precision and musicianship.

This is the goal of any practise of instrumental "technique".


Comments (3)
Blogger Rob Clark said...

Kind of unfair to compare the two. The stuffy Tokyo symphonic technicians have to go home to their lives, it’s a job. The youth orchestra was having the time of their lives. One is the business of music, the other is the joy. Remove the joy and all that is left is the tension. Thank you for posting the Proms 2007 youtube link, I have not heard the symphonic dances performed at that level. My own copy of Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic lacks the zest that Maestro Dudamel and his young charges bring to this piece of music. It gets better, this entire performance has the same quality. Nothing like youthful exuberance. We must remember playing music should be fun.

Thank you for you web site.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 11:47:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Rob,
Thanks for your comments. I didn't mean to be unfair to the Tokyo dudes.

It just so happened that they displayed a calm flutist next to two who looked like they were really "working hard".

Often an orchestra who receives adequate or ample rehearsal time looks very relaxed, while one whose members have to fly by the seat of their pants, on next to no rehearsal, can be told apart just by their body language.
The youth orchestras usually receive alot of coaching, and a great number of rehearsals, whereas a substitute player in a pro-orchestra may only have played the piece twice through before in their lives.

Next, it's interesting to note that players who move alot are still "grokking" the internal rhythms (extermalizing them), whereas a player who looks uncomfortable when they move still needs more time to internalize a piece.

There are many things to notice when you watch these orchestra close ups.
These sources of visual info. (such as youtube) are INVALUABLE for comparisions and discoveries.
Thanks so much for commenting.
Jen :>)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 8:49:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

One of the thoughts I'm trying to put into words (maybe in part 3 of this blog-mini-series) is that when we flutists practise "technique", we are practising toward the level of playing seen in these orchestras.
While playing your scales, you want to balance your body and release excess tension, so that one day you can play the fast runs in the second movement of Shostakovich Tenth Symphony. :>)

That's part of where this topic is going, for me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 10:58:00 PM


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