Lumping and Splitting Part II

(Read Part I for an intro to this topic.) Here are my opinions (at this point) about notating techniques for the flute: which techniques for the flute one can lump together (generalize), and which ones benefit from more differentiation.

Percussive sounds in Ensemble/orchestral situations

There are several places to put your tongue inside your mouth and make popping noises that resonate lightly with the flute. Traditionally, these are called pizzicati preceded by its place of oral origin lip pizz, palatal pizz, sometimes the generic tongue pizz. Some people borrow the term “slap tongue” or “slap tone” from reed playing. There is no reed involved in flute playing, and pizzicati are not produced by any kind of slapping motion. Pizzicato refers to a plucking motion, which is a better description of what happens in a flutist’s mouth. Therefore, the term pizzicato is correct. I see these terms “slap..” and pizzicato used interchangeably, which is puzzling, but at least I know more or less what to do.

calling this a just a pizz or pizzicato is OK

As far as differentiating the place of origin for a pizz, in an ensemble or orchestral situation, I think lumping is ok – it is not necessary to specify how or where it is produced. The difference between a lip pizz or a palatal pizz are very subtle, but can be effective under amplification or other acoustically welcoming conditions. So if you really want a good pizz, you might let the flutist decide where in the mouth they can do it most effectively.

Speaking of effectiveness: please use the first octve only!

Here is a short video showing the differences (or lack thereof) between a tongue pizz produced first on the palate, then on the lips, and then a pizz with just the lips, which could be referred to as a bilabial pizzicato is you want to get fancy, or you could just notate a normal pizzicato with the letter “P” below it. Actually, any unvoiced consonant can be used this way.

Quick comparison: tongue pizz on palate, lip, and a bilabial pizz

More to come in Part III


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