We then went over the second of Karg-Elert’s 30 Studies for Flute Op. 107. Stylistically for No. 2, when two notes are slurred together (such as is found in the opening measures), the second note is short, resulting in a “da-dit, da-dit, da-dit” type of feel rather than a legato “da-da, da-da, da-da” sound. We also focused on larger intervals, such as in mm. 21 – 22. For passages like this with notes in the higher register, experiment with more E-shaped (and even umlaut inspired) vowels in your mouth, and also consider a more nasal focus. For the nasal sound, first try speaking through your nose more than normal, and then apply that same sensation to your flute playing. Your nostrils may flare a bit when you do this :) We also looked at No. 3 of the studies as well. The second to last measure is “the” measure in this piece. Breaking it down into two separate lines (high and low registers) is the best way to start to develop one’s ability to hear and anticipate the next note for accurate throat tuning. When you put the lines back together, see what types of color differences you can get between the registers to emphasize each distinct line even more.
Super exciting thing – we started the path to circular breathing! It's difficult to circular breathe on the flute because we already lose so much air when we play (#inefficiency #ThanksBoehm), plus there is no resistance for our embouchure. To start towards circular breathing, first we just attempted to make a sound on the flute (on a high F) while dispersing air throughout our entire mouth. Yes, we looked ridiculous. Yes, “ridiculous” here means “like blowfish.” Essentially, a flute and a sense of humor are what you need at this point in the game. Robert did put together a book about circular breathing specifically for flutists, so check it out if you’d like!
Other things: I’m borrowing The Autobiography of Malcolm X from Robert; now I have some subway reading! We also talked about how unreasonable living in NYC is today. Robert says he no longer encourages young musicians to move here because things are just too insane.
Speaking of insane, Robert played a loft concert over the weekend. He started with two improvisations on the contrabass flute and then played a piece by William Hellermann (who also attended the concert), Three Weeks in Cincinnati in December, which requires the flutist to circular breathe for nearly 50 minutes straight. The piece changes slowly over that time, drawing material from natural harmonics and multiphonics.