Category: extended techniques

  • More on Circular Breathing

    On April 8th this year, I will be in Krakow giving a workshop on circular breathing and performing Robert Dick’s legendary Flames must not encircle sides. About seven years ago I made the tutorial video below, but have been considering a re-make of late. More for clarity, rather than content. And I have learned a […]

  • Which extended techniques are harmful to flutes?

    During composer workshops, I am sometimes pleased to hear the question: “What are some techniques we should definitely not use because they may harm your instrument?” So I will keep a running list here. Slamming your hands onto the keywork. A snap of the finger for a key click is one thing (and not all […]

  • Harmonic Exercises, with Articulation too!

    When playing through the harmonic series, the second overtone (a twelth above the fundamental) is a great check point. When students begin learning harmonics, this one often proves elusive because of the tendency to cover too much of the embouchure hole. By rolling out a bit and blowing down, it usually speaks. The following exercise […]

  • Notating New Sounds – Rewrite?

    I love it when a composer takes the flute in hand and explores its sounds while writing for flute. It shows more dedication and curiosity than just looking up techniques in a book (not to disparage the good books about writing for flute).  Sometimes, it can produce an original sound, but sometimes it re-invents the […]

  • Effective Use (or not) of percussive sounds

    I have already written a lot on the subject of percussive sounds, but here I would like to add a few subtleties of usage. We will be performing Grisey’s Talea soon, and preparing the score, I am struck by how fantastic the piece is, yet how awkwardly some of the percussive effects are used. My […]

  • Writing Harmonics for Flute – when is a harmonic not a harmonic?

    Harmonics (also called overtones or flageolets)  are great! I love playing them, but I want to mention several issues when writing them for flute, piccolo, alto flute or bass flute. The most prevalent mistake is writing harmonics that are too low. The following notes cannot be written as harmonics: The above notes can only be […]

  • Some thoughts on composing jet whistles

    Jet Whistles on the flute can be amazingly effective, but one has to compose them with care. You can hear a sound file here on Mats Möller’s website. He calls it “Strong air stream without tone”. Two composers who use jet whistles effectively in ensemble situations are Helmut Lachenmann (Mouvement, Zwei Gefühle) and Bernhard Lang […]

  • Extended Techniques – a Do It Yourself Handout

    Here is a 14 page booklet I put together on how to do the basics of some extended techniques: Harmonics Multiphonics Singing and Playing Whistle Tones Percussive Effects Circular Breathing List of Studies for Further Practice Selected Repertoire for unaccompanied flute Here is the link. You may pass it on but please give credit where […]