All posts by ericdano

9000 year old flute

There is a great article about a 9000 year old bone flute that was discovered in the 1980s in China. Pretty interesting stuff. Some of the highlights are:

  1. The form of Jiahu flutes: There are five or six holes in bone flutes of the early period; seven holes on most flutes of the middle period; and seven or eight holes in the latest period.
  2. The concepts of “scale” (Shu) and “temperament” (Lu) in making the Jiahu bone flute: flutes of each period had some changes in the arrangement of scale and this indicates that our Jiahu ancestors already had certain temperament standards when making different tones.
  3. Why the world of musical research is amazed by the accuracy of the tuning system of the Jiahu bone flute number 341:2: The method of hole-drilling and the arrangement of the five-tone scale demonstrate that, at that time, the practice of Chinese music had already entered a completely new realm.
  4. The inheritance and selectivity of musical culture: during a continuous period of 1200 years, Jiahu musical production developed from a four-tone scale to a seven-tone scale through successive changes, and from complexity to a high level of simplicity, and this trend bears an important significance to modern musical composition.

Zinn Practice Regimen for Flute

Inspired by Dann Zinn, professor at Cal State Hayward. When Dan took over saxophone at CSUH, he jotted down on a piece of paper what he wanted me to practice, and this is the result. I liked the ideas in there so much I did it for flute as well.Starts off with chromatic scale, followed by intervals, major scales, minor scales, thirds, fourths. Ruthless, but it will make you play better!

  Zinn Regimen for Flute (239.2 KiB, 868 hits)
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Jazz Conception for Flute by Jim Snidero

I have to rave about Jim Snidero‘s great series of books, Jazz Conception. He has them out for Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Flute, Clarinet, Guitar, Trumpet and probably more. The book comes with a CD of the music being performed by a great artist on whatever instrument. On the Alto version it’s Jim Snidero himself (and he sounds GREAT), on the Tenor CD it’s Walt Weiskopf, on the Flute CD it’s Frank Weis, on the Clarinet CD it’s Ken Peplowski.

The books feature the same 21 etudes. They’ve been transposed for instruments other than Alto Saxophone. The Etudes are based on well known chord changes, like #12 IND Line is based on A-Train changes, and #13 Father Song is based on the changes to Song for my Father. The etudes introduce all the standard articulations and stylistic things one would need to know to play jazz. The first etude, Groove Blues, has scoopes and falls. The next etude introduces ghosting of notes.

My only gripe, and it’s a small one, is that there is not a separate CD for backgrounds. True, you can turn the pan over to right and you’d get just the rhythm section, by why not just include a separate CD with the backgrounds by themselves? Since I insist on students interested in jazz to get this book, I made a separate CD that has just the backgrounds so the kids can play without the soloist. You’d be surprised how many boomboxes have no left/right panning.

In all, Jim Snidero’s Jazz Conception series is great. I have 4th and 5th graders able to play Groove Blues, and A-Doll. Some can play some of the others as well. I hope Jim Snidero will add to this series of books.”

Double Tounging

I came across this email while cleaning out my Flute List e-mail folder. It was written by Mary Byrne, Ph.D.
Faculty, Victoria Conservatory of Music
Victoria, BC CANADA. A great little insight on double tounging and how to teach it. If your not a member of the Flute list, this is one reason why you should be!

Re: Double tounging
Tue, 30 May 2000 16:44:08 -0700
Michael/Mary Byrne

Dear List,

This question has been answered in many different directions…all of them

I teach double tonguing at the point that a student simply needs a speed of
articulation that her/his single tongue cannot provide. Before I teach
double tonguing, I want to know that the student is in possession of a solid
single tongue and a strong tone with good use of air. These factors can be
satisfied at almost any time in the life of a flute student.

I have encountered useful books on the subject of double tonguing–top of
the list being Trevor Wye’s Practice Book. There are also some good–but
small–exercises in the Rubank Advanced Method Books. However I use these,
and other sources, as tools rather than instruction manuals.

When instructing students in double tongue, I first remind the student what
makes up a good single tongue, i.e. a clean attack that does not block the
airflow more than is absolutely necessary to create the articulation. To
this end I will work for a few weeks on tongue-less attacks to make sure
that the tone is not reliant on the tongue for its production. In
conjunction with this we employ the “T” articulation stroke only to clarify
and clean-up the start of notes. This can be practiced on scales, simple
steady-rhythm etudes, or basic technical studies.

Once this is set we repeat the process, this time employing the “K” stroke
instead of “T”–this is to strenghten the “K.” I stress a forward placement
of the “K” within the mouth. Pronouncing the words “Kitty” and “Kite” and
“Cut” the student will readilt find that the “K” hits in three different
places. I like to use the forward stroke of “Kitty” as this minimizes the
motion required of the tongue in double tongue and seems to be less
disruptive to the air flow. Again this can be practiced on scales, simple
steady-rhythm etudes, or basic technical studies.
I may also ask students to replay familiar repertoire using “K” instead of
“T” as the basic articulation stroke.

In the teaching process, I am careful to compare the sound of the “K” to the
sound of the “T.” I am also careful to stress proper and abundant air use
with the tongue as this is a very important component for “masking the
click” of the “K” stroke.

When the “K” is strong and virtually indistinguishable from the “T,” we move
on to “proper double tongue” studies, exercises and etudes working the
alteration of “T” and “K.” This may not be an easy transition, but the
ground work is well-laid and many students do come to it very quickly. Of
course the two problems that most often come up are speed and coordination
with the fingers. Coordination with the fingers will come with time and
attention. Speed will as well, but one exercise I have recently found
useful in this regard is to have students say “Kitty” over and over and then
to suddenly blow alot of air through the mouth while continuing to say the
words. Most people will find that the tongue suddenly flies forward and
fast as free as can be. Then it’s just a matter of coordinating that with
the flute. I leave that to the individual creativities of the teachers out

As to the other topics around this subject:

I do not agree that double-tongue is an extended technique of the flute. It
may not be necessary, but it is apart of the technique of the
instrument…as is vibrato, and dare I say multiphonics, etc….

I do not agree that double tongue is a substitute for a slow tongue. I
consider it merely an extention of a proper single tongue. LOTS of
different consonants are useful for different musical objectives…T, K, D,
G, L, N, P, H…

I do not agree that double tongue prevents a performer from developing a
quick single tongue. I have, by all accounts, an extremely fast double
tongue–I have actually gotten it to mimic flutter tongue in certain
circumstances. However, my single tongue–once quite slow– has worked up
to quite a perky tempo (sixteenths at 132-ish). I find now that there are
many times I flip back and forth between single and double tongue within a
single bravura passage according to the demands of the music. It’s a little
like going between two languages! I also doubt that my single tongue would
have improved as it has were it not for the work with my double tongue.

Well, that’s it. Hope some of this helps!

Mary Byrne, Ph.D.
Faculty, Victoria Conservatory of Music
Victoria, BC CANADA

Wood Piccolo Care?

I have a 3 year old Zentner Wood Piccolo. I keep hearing that one should oil their wood instruments every year or so………My question is does it really have any effect on the piccolo’s sound quality or anything? My piccolo has been playing soo good lately (me now, that’s another story) that I don’t want to mess up anything………