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!):


CLASSICAL (Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart)

BAROQUE (Pergolesi, Tartini, Vivaldi, CPE Bach)

FRENCH IMPRESSIONIST (Debussy, Ravel, Gaubert, Faure)



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. :>)

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:

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.

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