After improvising, we worked on no. 23 of the Karg-Elert op. 107 Studies. I worked on this as region band audition music in high school, so it was cool to visit it again. The “pieno” designation at the beginning translates to “full”; thank goodness the register accommodates that well. As Robert has suggested to me before, he once again brought up the notion of physically moving as prep for a note in order to engage with the music before you even begin playing. This opening is a great chance to practice that. Also, I had the realization that my nine years in marching band have probably influenced me as far as movement when I play. So something I’m working on is moving more, and taking up more space when I play.
We had talked previously about the difference between slurs and phrase markings in the Karge-Elert Studies, and this is a great example of that, because both legato markings and staccato markings, as well as not markings at all, fall under overarching phrase markings, so as a player you get to make informed decisions. Placing tasteful breaths was another thing we’ve talked about, and in this piece, while Robert and I didn’t always agree on where we would breathe, as long as we approached the breath and followed the breath musically, our different ideas worked. For the “volando” collection of notes in m. 6, we had the chance to talk about the illusion of time again (“Illusion, Michael.”). If you play this explosion cleanly (being able to sing every pitch in your head), even if it’s not crazy fast, it will sound crazy fast because of the detail in it. We can change the illusion of time based on the amount of detail we present.
Mm. 12 and 13 of the study got to be our prime focus. Initially, I was lingering a bit on the bottom notes, which, when coupled with slow grace notes after the trill, contributed to a feeling of lost momentum. So, I spring-boarded off the bottom notes sooner, increased the trill speed gradually, and ended the phrase with quick grace notes. One way we practiced continuous motion and line direction was to bump the A-sharp and B in m. 13 up an octave to stay consistent octave-wise with the proceeding figures in m. 12.
This study contains some very Wagnerian moments, and so we got on the subject of Wagner. My favorite of Robert’s comments concerning Wagner was, “If you’re going to be a shit, at least really be a shit.” And that’s exactly what Wagner did. (But really, read up on his life. He was not a nice man. Gorgeous music. Horrible person.) We went down a rabbit hole a bit from here, talking about how it would be refreshing if the inward was always reflected outwardly in art; but alas.
Briefly, we talked about whisper tones. Mine are coming along okay (I can almost play the third octave entirely in whisper tones!), but sometimes the tone, color, and pitch of the whisper tone will change suddenly, so I was asking Robert about it. Our best guest is that I was unknowingly getting a ghost tone. This is what happens when your mouth is set for a pitch and the flute acts as a resonator for the mouth (instead of the mouth being a resonator for the flute, like we’re used to). You can change a ghost tone by moving your tongue, whereas fingerings will have no effect on the pitch.
- I admitted that I learned the German word for butterfly (der Schmetterling) from a German rap song, and it made Robert laugh pretty hard.
- Sarah and I went to see the ensemble Third Sound play a concert of new music, and it was nice to hear chamber works.
- Robert lent me a CD (Glaciers in Extinction) by Roberto Fabbriciani playing the hyperbass flute, which I didn't even know existed. It is a pretty rad sound. Listening to this album led me to…
- Watching the documentary Chasing Ice. It’s about the photographer James Balog and his quest to depict climate change through pictures. It was slightly terrifying to see and it made me want to be more environmentally aware. I recommend watching it. The website is also shares some great practical ways to be a good inhabitant of our earth.
Until next time!