Thursday, June 11, 2009

Voliere or Aviary by Saint-Saens

Dear Flutists, A question came up today about learning and practising the amazing (and amazingly full of technique!) bird solo from Saint-Saen's Carnival of the Animals, movement 10. (full score in pdf here.) I have created not only a Voliere practise method in pdf which has all the most common errata corrected, but also an mp3 for slow outline practise. I also have some useful trill fingerings here in pictures. But first, let's hear the bird as it flutters around the aviary. To wit (to woo!!) :>D The above is a youtube video of Alexandra Grot playing it and even smiling at the end. (Yes, the bird lived and was even very happy with not sustaining feather damage from bashing against the bars of the aviary! :>D) Now, for the fabulous trill fingerings that you may want to use. You can choose for yourself alternate fingerings that work for your flute, or use these two simply for rebalancing the hands. D3 to E3 at fast tempi: Lift LH3 & depress trill key 2. E3 to F3 at fast tempi: Lift LH2 & depress trill key 2. RH4 optional. Now to the practise method. Because the technique for this piece begins with creating effortless large interval leaps of one and two octaves, I've created a practise sheet in pdf that has the entire Voliere written out in all-slurred "outlining". Outlining is the simplified version of a piece of music, and it allows the student to practise the main pitches of each bar for tone, and to achieve the air-speed and embouchure adjustments needed for a fabulous, ringing, clear and projecting tone quality. This is especially needed during large interval leaps. When "outlining", the small value notes are simply left out until the student establishes balance and sureness at the embouchure. Focus on getting the air-speed and embouchure right for tone quality. Remember to always adjust the lip aperture forward for high register, and return the aperture back again for low register. Download the practise sheets for Voliere here. I have also included some stabilizing fingerings in the above pdf, as well as the original Saint-Saens Aviary flute part below the outline, in ossia style, for comparison. The alternate fingerings given are for fastest tempi, although you may wish to use true fingerings at slower tempi and be equally adept at both. Always match timbre and pitch when using alternates, and keep all fingers low and light. Please comment on the fingerings and techniques I've suggested if you're a professional reading this, and if you find any additional groovy hints to add from your own lifetime of playing this excerpt (I've performed it with full orchestra three times over the years and pros have played it alot more often than that, I'm sure.) And for those who are just starting out learning this solo,do use this helpful mp3 of a very slow tempo for Voliere (played by midi, slowly and accurately). You can play the outline version overtop of the midi, and gradually incorperate more and more small-value notes from the original version as you progress. The tempo of the mp3 can also be sped up by using a program like Audacity (select all and then choose faster tempo and re-save the mp3 with a new tempo name.) Here is the practise mp3 of Voliere. I really and truly hope that this practise method is as useful for other flutists as I find it to be. Providing you already practise great tone, chromatic scales, smooth octave leaps, and double tonguing, you should gradually be able to apply all these techniques to this piece and play it with ringing, carrying tone (even though it's marked piano, most flutists play it mezzo in order to project.) Update: video showing fingerings and tonguings from 2021 Please leave comments, and give further expert advice. I know alot of flutists out there have tried brashly crashing through this solo without using the most helpful possible practise methods. I really wanted to share the technique of all-slurred outlining which in my opinion saves your delicate feathers from a hasty thrashing. Best, Jen Cluff
Comments (4)
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you so much!!! I am performing this piece in two weeks... I hope I didn't discover this too late :((( wish me luck, and thanks again!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 4:25:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Hi there. Glad to help.
It's really fun when you "get it".
Best, Jen

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 7:19:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so glad to have come across this! A friend of mine suggested that I learn this, and I took one look at the sheet music and started freaking out, but then I came across your outlining and I feel so much better about it. I can't wait to master it! Thanks!

Sunday, September 11, 2016 6:04:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Happy to help! :>) Jen

Sunday, September 11, 2016 8:07:00 AM


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