Schönberg Pierrot Lunaire Mondfleck errata

Here is quick reference list of errata in the flute part for those preparing for piccolo auditions or performance. The score and parts are available if you search IMSLP, and the manuscript can be found here.

This movement is palindromic, but there are several inconsistencies which raise questions, and there are discrepancies between the part and the score (I believe I have UE 33794). Examination of the manuscript has settled some of these questions, but perhaps there are more that I have missed. Please feel free to add.

  • Measures 2 and 18 should both have D natural, not D sharp.
  • Bars 7 and 13 should both have F natural, not F sharp.
  • Measure 9, 4th beat: some editions have the A flat C written as 32nd notes, they should be 16ths.
  • Measure 13 has a discrepancy in rhythm between the score and part. If one follows the palindromic principle, the flute part is correct; that is the A flat in bar 13 should correspond to the G sharp in bar 7 and be a 16th note rather than a 32nd. Problematically, the manuscript does not follow the palindromic principle (it shows the A flat in bar 13 as a 32nd note). Is the manuscript wrong? Was the mistake copied to the score and then corrected in the flute part?

It has been suggested to me that this last anomaly might have been to avoid having octave D’s between the piccolo and the piano in bar 13.

Thoughts, anyone? Does anyone have a copy of the latest edition (UE 34806) that they would be willing to show me? I’d be curious if there are any differences.


Our Mythical Past

Time to vent another pet peeve: “there are no great ____________ today”. Another take on the adage “kids these days….!”

“The standard of flutists has declined. There are so many good flutists today, but none can compare to the giants of the past” is a statement I have actually heard in several contexts by flutists of the older generation.

Stephen Jay Gould

I am truly convinced what we are witnessing is a statistical phenomenon of human systems, not the implied degeneration of our collective abilites. Scientist Stephen Jay Gould referred to this type of degeneration as entropic homogeneity 1. He argued heavily against its being the agent of seeming decline. To paraphrase him, over time (1) human performance (here, flute playing) approaches its outer limits of human capacity, and (2) systems tend to an equilibrium as they improve. What has actually declined is the standard deviation in average ability, which is a natural result of flutists having gotten better over the years.

” Paradoxically, this decline [of the standard deviation] produces a decrease in the difference between average and stellar performance. Therefore, modern leaders don’t stand so far above their contemporaries. The myth of ancient heroes – the greater distance between average and best in the past – actually records the improvement of play through time.”

Stephen Jay Gould, quoted in The Free Library

You could get into a lot of arguments here. Were the past heroes of flute playing relatively better, but absolutely worse (or equal)?

1 Gould, S. J. (1986, August). Entropic homogeneity isn’t why no one hits .400 anymore. Discover, pp. 60-66. Republished in Gould, S. J. Full House, Three Rivers Press, 1997. Gould applies his argument to the subject of sports, namely, baseball. I admit to directly stealing some of his wording and translating it into flute-speak.

Read about my other pet peeve “Too Many Flutists


New Work for Piccolo (or any instrument) with Video Score

Last April I had a chance play at the Flute Festival of Krakow’s Academy of Music, organized by the wonderful Wiesiek Suruło. There I premiered a piece of my own, and had the added bonus of sharing the stage with stellar flutists like Wiesiek, Anna Garzuly-Wahlgren and Sarah Louvion.

I want to tell a little about this new piece, Thunder and Lightning, because it was an experiment in graphic notation for improvisers that actually worked. Plug a laptop or tablet into a sound system and the score and visual information of the soundtrack scroll by as the soundtrack plays. You can play along with a video format such as mp4 or run it from the free, cross-platform software I will tell you about. It’s mega-simple and you can get great coordination with the soundtrack. If you are interested in performing this work (it doesn’t have to be on piccolo), let me know, and I can send you a video score with which you can perform. And if you are interested in collaborating with me on a new piece with this notational format, I would welcome the opportunity!

Since the summer of 2016 I have been experimenting with electronics in order to create an extension of my own improvisation practice. As I am not adept (yet) at live processing, I have been focusing on fixed media (soundtracks). It is also a goal of mine to generate easily-accessible works with electronics for players who want an easy set-up and have little or no technical support.

How to coordinate music with soundtracks has been a topic that our ensemble has struggled with since day one. (You can read some of my insights on that topic here.) Even if you are improvising, it really helps to know what is ahead of you on the soundtrack. I considered playing with the scrolling spectrograph available through Audacity, but that program doesn’t have the capability to add graphics. So when I came across the acousmographe, I knew I had found something with potential for performers. Since it was created for analyzing the spectra of electronic sounds, there are extended graphic possibilities.

However, the graphics I used in Thunder and Lightning are bare-bones. I could have gone to town with musical staves and added fingerings to create a very elegant looking score, but decided to keep it simple for the first trial. Besides, the piece is improvised, so I wanted to keep it as free as possible. But you can find suggested melodic material and the multiphonic fingerings I used as well as the links and instructions for the software here (if you need it):

Performance information, scale, fingerings, links to the software and instructions. [edit: It looks like this software has been discontinued. I am researching new solutions.]