We also did a good bit of listening. First up was a recording of Julius Baker playing Bach. I believe Robert said Baker made the recording himself in his living room. It was recorded before the Baroque “revival,” but it was still stellar. That sound. It turns out that Baker had a vocal coach, which Robert believes contributed to his beautiful flute tone. (Related, if any vocalists out there want to barter some voice lessons for flute lessons/dance parties, let me know.)
After another Baker recording where he showed off his tonguing speed, we moved onto an Indian raga played by Pannalal Ghosh, who popularized the flute in Hindustani classical music. That led into a discussion of practicing/improvising over drones. Robert uses rolls of coins to sustain pitches on his Casio keyboard, creating an open fifth drone (proof that the ACU difference is alive and well. #exceptional #innovative #real). He also showed us The Raga Guide (by Nimbus Records). I mean, talk about a resource! I’ll be putting this on my “things it’d be nice to have once I have money to spend on something other than food” list. Discussing ragas meant we talked about sliding between notes and using non-traditional fingerings for micro-tonal tuning, which segued nicely into other extended techniques, conveniently found in…
Flying Lessons 3! This piece is my favorite of the set thus far. The first note is a tongue stop, so we talked about those and jet whistles for a bit. Robert told us a story from his adolescent jet whistle air days. He had found a cigar that fit perfectly into his flute, and after practicing launching it out of the flute, he shot the cigar at the conductor in a rehearsal. I enjoy imagining this scene. And also the practice that went into it.
But back to the music. There is a “sonic oasis” moment on the first page that reminds me of Maslanka harmonies and sonorities. I had no idea flute multiphonics could be so wonderful in succession. Again, Robert’s DVD set is a great resource for these pieces in the Flying Lessons set.
And then came the big dog. We started on the Berio Sequenza I! As one of the staples in the flute repertoire, there is no shortage of articles and resources about the piece. Again, listening to other pieces by Berio is necessary for understanding his style; Robert suggests the Sequenza III for voice, the Sinfonia, and Omaggio a Joyce for voice and tape. I actually read the Molly Bloom soliloquy from James Joyce’s Ulysses, and it does help to see the influences Berio was taking in.
To start on the Sequenza, we scatted the first few lines. Concerning the proportional notation, I find it helpful to imagine the scrolling bar that shows up in playback of Finale files. I picture this while scatting, and also while playing. Robert encouraged great contrast and freedom in learning the rhythms away from the flute. We even “meowed” the beginning. (We specifically meowed instead of barking. And then Robert shared that dogs bark on the inhale. I honestly had no idea. I’m learning so much.) The potential lies in the extremes of the piece, and dynamic changes (in addition to the register jumps) contribute strongly to that. And that’s something that should be reflected in the scatting process. We started playing on the flute as well, focusing on an intense sound paired with untongued attacks of the notes. Talk about an ab workout.
- Ichi (Joe’s cat) came out of his room today while I was there!!! I haven’t seen Ichi willingly outside of Joe’s room since he arrived a month ago. Yay for progress and yay for furry friends!
- I’m looking at musicology PhD programs; there’s some great stuff out there.
- Joe fixed our living room ceiling fan so that the light can be on WITHOUT the fan blasting air on you. This is great news because...
- Fall has fallen!!! I wore a hat to the grocery store to keep my ears warm. AUTUMN. IT’S HAPPENING.
Until next time!