Title: Notation and performance of avant-garde literature for the solo flute
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098070/00001
 Material Information
Title: Notation and performance of avant-garde literature for the solo flute
Physical Description: ix, 178 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Willis, Morya E ( Morya Elaine )
Publication Date: 1982
Copyright Date: 1982
Subject: Flute   ( lcsh )
Music -- Acoustics and physics   ( lcsh )
Musical notation   ( lcsh )
Curriculum and Instruction thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Curriculum and Instruction -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by Morya E. Willis.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1982.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 170-175.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00098070
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000318153
oclc - 08925676
notis - ABU4985


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Copyright 1982


Morya Elaine Willis

To my parents, who were convinced that all things are

possible if time and effort are applied diligently, and

who bestowed this philosophy upon their children.



All beginnings are difficult and anyone who makes this

initial process and subsequent efforts easier deserves

many heart-felt thanks. I would like to express my

appreciation to my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joe W. Willis for

their constant support and assistance through my many

years of musical education. Their understanding and

backing has made my search for knowledge a more enjoyable


As mentor and highly admired professor, Edward

C. Troupin receives my highest praise and deep-felt thanks

for his untiring help and encouragement in this endeavor.

Without his patient explanations and prodding, the various

ideas and concepts I was exploring would never have

coalesced into this dissertation.

To Donald A. Carlson for his endless discussions and

cooperative efforts spent in helping me analyze flute

sounds through a spectrum analyzer, I will be forever

grateful. Thanks also to his lovely wife Sandy, not only

for her understanding, but also for her invaluable

insights into matters of pen, ink, and xerox reductions.

I would like also to express my appreciation to Mrs.

Sarah Baird Fouse for her interest and helpfulness in

bringing to my attention many articles and books

pertaining to acoustics and avant-garde devices. Her

interest and support through these many years have not

been overlooked or unappreciated.

To my many friends who have suffered my irratic moods

with understanding and grace, I offer first my apologies

for saidbehavior and secondly my thanks for "coping". To

cite everyone would require another dissertation (heaven

forbide), but special recognition must be made for those

who "suffered" the most. To Steven M. Kress I express my

appreciation for his understanding, help, and last minute

flurries-of-panic to the copy center. Thanks also go to

Lisa Yonge and Gail Daniels for their patience and support

in the last hours before deadline.

Last but by no means least, I would like to express my

deepest appreciation to Ruth Ann Galatas for providing me

with a quiet place to "hide and write" and for having

faith in my ability to complete this document in a calm

and organized fashion. Her sustaining friendship and

constant support have greatly aided in the completion of

this dissertation. I hope one day to return the favor.



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................. .... ...................iv
ABSTRACT.............................................. viii


I INTRODUCTION...................................... 1
Need for the Study...........................1
Purpose of the Study.........................5
Content of the Study..........................5

II ACOUSTICS....................................... 7

III THE FLUTE..................................... 21
Theobald Boehm's Influence..................24
Acoustical Properties.......................27
Tone Production.............................29
Vibrato................................... 32
Overblowing................. .......................35
Upper Register Notes ...................... 37
Harmonics.................................... 42

IV CONTEMPORARY PRACTICES ........................48
Monophonic Sonorities.......................48
Harmonics .......... 48
Artificial harmonics....................48
Octave harmonics ........................50
Whistle tones............................51
Pitch Changes..............................53
Bending pitches.........................53
Muting tones............................54
Altered fingerings......................56
Vibrato.................................... 60
Trill and Tremolo.........................62
Extended Range............................64
Special Effects.............................75
Tonguing practices......................76
New articulation indicators............. 78
Key clicks ..............................79
Percussive tongue articulation ..........84

Noise Elements ............................86
Open embouchure noise elements.......... 87
Closed embouchure noise elements........88
Vocalized and non-vocalized
noise elements...........................93
Stage Directions...........................94
Multiple Sonorities.........................96
Residual Tones............................97
Random Pitch Effect........................98
Sing, Hum, and Play.......................99
Double and Triple Stops..................105

V MULTIPHONICS ................................109

VI NOTATION............................. ........132
Various Solutions......................... 147
Pitch ....................................147
Survey of Avant-Garde Notational
Contemporary Notational Systems............158

Summary...................... ............. 61



FOR SOLO FLUTE.........................................168

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH....................................176


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy



Morya Elaine Willis

May, 1982

Chairman: Gordon Lawrence
Cochairman: David Z. Kushner
Major Department: Curriculum and Instruction

The purpose of this dissertation is to present the

rudiments of acoustical theory and show the relationship

between these theories and the new avant-garde techniques

as they apply to the performance of solo flute literature.

The opening two chapters are concerned with a basic

explanation of the concepts of acoustical theory and a

specific examination of the flute's construction and tone

production based on these factors.

The next two chapters are concerned with the

contemporary practices idiomatic to the flute. These

devices are explained with an acoustical basis in mind.

In addition, emphasis is given to multiphonics, which are

explained acoustically, with examples of its usages and



The remaining chapters include a general survey of

contemporary notational practices. The exploration into

acoustical phenomena resulted in new devices in

composition and performance with the consequent problem of

how to notate these new techniques. The various

notational solutions reached by avant-garde composers and

the problems these systems have created are discussed. A

brief summary with recommendations is given in the

concluding chapter.

Two appendices are included. Appendix A lists books

and articles that supply fingerings for multiphonic

sonorities for flute. Appendix B lists books and articles

that supply suggested and/or accepted symbols used in

contemporary music literature. Appendix C lists

representative compositions of avant-garde literature for

the solo flute. A bibliography is included.


Need for the Study

The increasing popularity of contemporary instrumental

music is becoming more evident in every phase of musical

society. The emergence of various avant-garde or

contemporary performing groups such as Scratch

Orchestra,l the Italian ensemble Musica Elettronica

Viva, and various university-based contemporary ensembles

provide performance media that are more accessible to the

composer and the audience than any that had previously


Avant-garde music tends to view art "as a process of

exploration rather than as a collection of

objects."2 This requires greater flexibility and

adaptability on the part of the performer to act a dual

role with the composer in the realization of the

1 Cornelius Cardew formed the Scratch Orchestra in
1936, as a group of musicians (not necessarily with
extraordinary skills) willing to improvise and perform
pieces that are unusual in being the results of group
process of participation rather than the creation of
individual composers or performers.
2 C. Small, "Contemporary Music and Contemporary
Culture; Part III," Music in Education, Vol. 35, no. 348
(1971), p. 437.


composition. This new concept of the performer tends to

point out a trend that is becoming more evident in

twentieth century music. Two major attitudes toward

composition have emerged; the traditional or conservative

and the avant-garde.

The history of music has often been seen as primarily a

history of technological change, "in tools, both physical

and intellectual."3 The two emerging attitudes

exemplify this advance in technological change in their

approach to the usage and expansion of the available

'tools' (SHMRG: sound, harmony, melody, rhythm, and

growth),4 and can be distinguished by which of these

elements receives the greater emphasis and development.

Robert Ehle aptly points out that "both the appearance of

the music on the page and the performer's actions in

performance provide clear evidence as to which of the two

categories is involved."5

The avant-garde can be described as "those composers or

works which display the newest technique (often

anti-technique, i.e. silence."6 This creates a great

diversity in style because each composer is striving to

create his or her own idiomatic medium while

3 R. C. Ehle, "The Dilemma of Contemporary Music," The
American Music Teacher, Vol. 26, no. 1 (1976), p. 21.
4 J. LaRue, Guidelines for Style Analysis, (New York:
W. W. Norton and Co., Inc., 1970), Ch. 1.
5 R. C. Ehle, "The Two Major Stylistic Episodes of
Twentieth Century Music," The American Music Teacher,
Vol. 24, no. 6 (1975), p. 26.
6. D. Cope, "A Post Avant-Garde," Composer (US), Vol 3,
no. 2 (1972), p. 61.

_ _


simultaneously rejecting all other composer's ideas, in a

constant search for "new" and "better" sounds.

The enormous diversity and expansion of the medium has

resulted in many frustrations for the composer and

performer alike. Basically, the issue is a communication

problem; the composer's wishes versus the performer's


Composers of contemporary or avant-garde music have

gone beyond the bounds of traditional music in terms of

limitations on the structure and components of musical

compositions. Modern music "too often . is not

understood by those performing it and is consequently not

well played."7 This often seems to be the cry of the

performer and composer regarding avant-garde works.

With composers creating new devices and expanding old

ones, the traditional methods of notating these devices

become antiquated and insufficient. It is the performer

who is "largely responsible for the eventual success or

failure of a work, through programming it or not and

giving a good or bad performance,"8 and if performers

are not able to understand the composer's intent, then the

outcome of the performance is doomed.

7 James Galway, "An Interview with James Galway,"
Instrumentalist, Vol. 30 (January 1976), p. 45.
8 D. Bollard,"Some Observations on Musical Style,
Interpretation, and Performance," Australian Journal of
Music Education, no. 18 (April 1976), p. 25.


Do performers today understand contemporary composer's

intentions? A government study on the analysis of student

attitudes toward contemporary American music stated that

"a lack of understanding of what the contemporary American

composer is doing is an issue of paramount

importance." Comprehension of the technical methods and

concepts used by the composer "will aid in the ultimate

approval and acceptance of the efforts of the composer by

his audience."9 By approving of or rejecting

avant-garde compositions, the performer is making

aesthetic decisions concerning the composer's statement of

the human condition based on his or her own perceptions of

the validity of this expression. In order to address this

process fairly, the performer must master the various

techniques and devices that are common to this genre of


An investigation of contemporary music educational

material finds it lacking in thorough explanations to

music students about the devices avant-garde composers are

using, why they are using them, and how they want the

final product to sound. This dissertation is meant to

fill this particular gap in the written literature

regarding contemporary practices and an explanation as to

their bases and usages. To confine the study within

9 R. Hornyak, An Analysis of Student Attitudes Toward
Contemporary American Music. August 1965 March 1966,
U.S.Department of A.E.W., Office of Education, Project
#5-450(5-8288), p. 26.


attainable limits, the contemporary techniques examined

will be those idiomatic to avant-garde literature for the

solo flute. As musical expression expands, it becomes

necessary for performers of twentieth century literature

to increase their background in and familiarity with

avant-garde techniques and the theories upon which they

are based.

Purpose of the Study

The intent of this study is to present the rudiments of

acoustical theory and show the relationship between these

theories and the new avant-garde techniques as they apply

to flute performance in twentieth century literature.

Content of the Study

Chapter II is concerned with a basic explanation of the

concepts of acoustical theory. It includes an examination

of the acoustical characteristics of various instruments.

Following this chapter, a more specific look at the flute

is presented. Its construction and tone production bas. d

on acoustical factors are explained.

The fourth chapter concerns itself with the

contemporary practices idiomatic to the flute. "Sound per

se is now of primary importance in the instrumentor's

arsenal of techniques."10 Many of these so-called new

devices are merely extensions or refinements of older

established procedures and can be viewed with an

acoustical basis in mind.

Chapter five deals with one specific type of

practice that is in use in avant-garde music, the

technique of multiphonics. An acoustical explanation and

examination of multiphonics is included along with

examples of its uses and problems.

New exploration and expansion into acoustical phenomena

resulted in new devices in composition and performance and

created a need for new techniques of notation. Chapter

six deals with the problems of notation, including pitch;

duration; articulation, timbre, and dynamics; aleatoric

music and frame notation; and graphics.

The final chapter presents a brief summary of the study.

It also'offers conclusions and various recommendations for

future study and planning. A bibliography is included.

10 G. Read, Contemoorary Instrumental Techniques (New
York: Schirmer Books, 1976), p. ix.

__ ___ __


Any investigation into twentieth century contemporary

flute literature presupposes a practical awareness of

acoustical theory. What is acoustics? How does it work?

Why is this information important to a performer?

Primarily, acoustics is "that branch of physics which

treats of the phenomena and laws of sound, soundwaves, and

other vibrations of elastic bodies."l Further

clarification of this definition more readily reduces it

to a workable tool for the performer. Basically, sound is

vibrations of air particles which stimulate the response

of auditory nerves. These vibrations are caused by the

displacement of a body, such as the prongs of a tuning

fork. Internal forces develop within the body which

return it to its normal position. Its momentum then

carries it through its so-called normal or rest position

to an opposite position, thus creating a contrary

displacement. These bodies are referred to as elastic.

An analogy that might help to clarify this action is to

imagine a young tree growing in an open field. A

momentary gust of wind forces the tree to bend southward.

1 Article "Acoustics," in Funk and Wagnalls New
Practical Standard Dictionary (New York: Funk and
Wagnalls Co., 1947), p. 27.


When the gust recedes, the tree straightens itself, but it

does not stop at its normalupright position. Its momentum

forces it northward and back again. This entire process

continues until friction gradually slows down and

eventually stops the motion. Graphically, it would appear

as follows (see figure 1):



\ /

Figure 1
Graphic depiction of vibration

From A to C and back to A is referred to as a single

vibration. Of course, this term also includes the motion

A B A or C A B. The distance from A to C is known

as the amplitude. The greater the amplitude (A to C) of

the vibration, the louder the resultant sound will be. As

amplitude diminishes, the sound fades away.

The motion A C A B A (or C A B A C) is

termed a double vibration or a cycle. The number of

vibrations or cycles that occur in one second is called

the frequency. The frequency of the vibrations determine

the pitch of a sound; for example, the frequency of al at


concert pitch is 440 cycles per second. Smaller elastic

bodies result in more rapid vibrations (higher frequency)

so that the pitches of the corresponding sounds are higher.

Pitch does not depend upon the amplitude.

Once a body is set in vibratory motion, sound waves

result. Essentially, sound waves are alternating pulses

of compression and rarefaction or, in different terms, the

air moving alternately in states of contraction and

expansion. This motion is subject to many varied

influences that can affect its direction. One of the most

common influences is reflection. Reflection results when

the pathway of the sound wave meets an obstruction that is

large compared to'the wave. The wave is then reflected or

bounced in a different direction, especially if the

surface of the obstacle is hard. Upon encountering a

softer surfaced obstruction, part of the energy of the

wave is absorbed as it is transmitted. This changing of

the pathway of sound is called refraction. Another change

which the soundwave is subject to is referred to as

diffraction. Diffraction is a bending of the pathway of

sound around an obstacle.

A sound is rarely a pure sine wave, but is more often

made up of a sine wave of the fundamental frequency and

other sine waves of which the frequencies are integral

multiples of the fundamental frequency. For purposes of


graphic representation, the fundamental sine wave is

commonly used2 (see figure 2).

Figure 2
Sine wave

This shows the rising and falling motion of the wave.

Figure 3 illustrates the graphics of air particles moving

within a tube: it represents one sine wave in each half

of its cycle (from L to L), not two sine waves. The

points of intersection are called nodes (labeled by the

letter N see figure 3).


Figure 3
Graphic of air particles
within tube

2 Fourier Analysis of sound waves as discussed in J. H.
Appleton and R. C. Perera, The Development and Practice of
Electronic Music (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1975),
p. 36.


Nodes are points of minimum amplitude or "in a vibrating

air column, nodes are the points of highest density, where

the air particles do not move."3 The L in figure 3

refers to loops or antinodes which are points of maximum

movement. The overall length of a wave is determined from

a point in one wave to the same point in the next cycle

(see figure 4):

Figure 4
Length of a wave

Frequency and temperature are important factors in

determining the wave length. Velocity of sound varies

with the media which it must traverse. Its celerity also

depends on wind direction, strength, and temperature.

Leaving the first two factors to architectural acoustics,

the importance of temperature becomes clear to a performer.

The speed of sound increases approximately one foot/second

for each degree (F.) rise in temperature. This variation

of velocity with temperature is the principal reason why

many wind instruments play flat when cold.4

3 Willi Apel, "Node," in Harvard Dictionary of Music
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972), p. 575.
4 Robert Sabine, "Acoustics," in The International
Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians (New York: Dodd, Mead,
and Co., 1964), p. 10.

__ ____ __ ___


One last phenomenon of sound should be examined. It is

the phenomenon of reinforcement through impressed force,

or more simply put, sympathetic vibrations. Resonance is

the term used to describe this effect. In a wind

instrument, the air in the tube itself accomplishes


With the basics of acoustics covered, one can advance

to the examination of the acoustical characteristics of

various instruments. "All musical instruments produce

composite tones consisting of many pure tones, called

harmonics, produced simultaneously."5 The musical

tone itself consists of a fundamental (the harmonic of

lowest frequency which due to its loudness determines the

pitch of the composite tone) vibrating in conjunction with

upper partial. Partials or overtones are the harmonics

above the fundamental.. Their frequencies are integral

multiples of the fundamental's frequency ( fn= n, 2n,

3n, . .). See figure 5.

880 = 4n
0 660 = 3n
S440 = 2n
7 220 = n

Figure 5
Corresponding frequencies of
partial above their fundamental

5 Willi Apel, "Acoustics," in Harvard Dictionary of
Music (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972), p.

The only difference between partial and overtones is a

semantic specification. The second harmonic is also the

second partial, but is known as the first overtone.6

The aggregate of fundamentals and overtones is called the

harmonic series. It consists of a fundamental and an

infinite number of overtones. Figure 6 illustrates the

harmonic series with a fundamental of c.

1st overtone, 2nd partial


1 2 3 4 5.6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Figure 6
Harmonic series with c fundamental

A vibrating body vibrates not only as a whole, but also

in segments of 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, etc. of its entire length

(see figure 7).

6 Willi Apel, "Acoustics," in Harvard Dictionary of
Music (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972), p.




Figure 7

Pictoral representation
of vibrating segments

These secondary vibrations have a smaller amplitude than

the fundamental and are therefore not as loud. Combined

with the fundamental, these tones fuse and blend with each

other so that the ear hears the tone as a whole. It is

the varied number and comparative strength of these

harmonics that create the character of a tone, its tone

color or timbre. The attack transients of a tone (the

manner in which it is begun on different instruments) have

a substantial effect on the perception of timbre and, in

conjunction with the harmonics that contribute to the

tone, allow the ear to differentiate between the various

musical instruments.

Tone production in a wind instrument results from the

vibrations of the particles of air within the pipe much in

the same manner that vibrations occur from a plucked

string stretched between two points. The major difference

is that in a string instrument the pitch of the string is

affected by length, density of material, and tension. In

________1___11______I ___~1_ ~_ __ ~__1_1___ ______ _~ _~~~__~~_______

a wind instrument the pitch of the vibrating air column
depends primarily upon its length. Doubling the length of
the air column results in lowering the pitch one octave.
(For example, see figure 8).

16 ft 8 ft 4 ft 2 ft 1 ft

Figure 8
Length and corresponding
pitch of air columns

Pipes come in two distinct varieties. First are the
open pipes, so called because they are open at both ends.
Figure 9 illustrates this case.


1 wave length

I /
1 N
I N N1


Figure 9
Open pipe illustration

As can be seen in the illustration, an important

characteristic of an open pipe is that antinodes are

located at both ends. These points (L) represent areas

where changes in the density are greatest. Located

between these antinodes is an area of high density where

there is little change. It is a node (N). Recalling that

a wavelength is measured from a point in the wave to a

similar point in the next wave ( --- ) --- ) it can be

seen (in figure 9) that the wavelength of the fundamental

tone of an open pipe is twice the length of the pipe.

The second type of pipe is a closed or stopped pipe

(see figure 10).

1 wave length

I -

Figure 10
Closed pipe illustration

In a stopped pipe, a node (N) is always at the end and an

antinode (L) is always located at the mouthpiece or

beginning. Because wavelength is inversely proportional

to frequency, the fundamental of an open pipe of a

specified length is an octave above that of a closed pipe

of the same length.

Another important difference between an open and closed

pipe is the functioning harmonics that result from their

different construction. Open pipes are capable of

producing all the harmonics in the series, while closed

pipes produce only the odd-numbered harmonics (see figure

6). Even-numbered harmonics can occur only when an

antinode is located at both ends as in an open pipe (see

figure 9).


The term "harmonic" has two different yet related

meanings. Thus far, "harmonic" has been restricted to the

general acoustical field. It also is involved in a more

specific area, generally associated with string

instruments and flutes. If a vibrating string is touched

lightly at one of its dividing nodes (figure 11) it will

be prevented from sounding its fundamental.

N N\ N N

Figure 11
Dividing nodes

Because a string vibrates in sections, the node chosen

will continue to vibrate and will sound its corresponding

note. These notes have a veiled quality since the

fundamental is not heard, and are called 'harmonics'. For

string instruments there are two types of harmonics:

natural harmonics, which use open strings as fundamentals

and are indicated notationally by placing a small circle

above the desired tone (see figure 12), and artificial

harmonics, in which the performer makes his own

fundamental and the notation gives not only the correct

fingering position, but also the desired node (see figure



0 O
.#o *'1 ol

Figure 12
Natural harmonic notation indicators

Pp | I|

Touch this
Finger this




Figure 13
Artificial harmonic notation

On the flute, harmonics are produced by either

overblowing or venting. Overblowing is a process of

changing the shape and direction of the air stream from

the lips. Venting is a procedure of opening a hole

located at or near a node. As with string instruments, it

is possible to use several different fingerings by

overblowing at the octave, fifth, etc., or venting to

obtain various partial to create the same harmonic pitch.

The sounds are again very light and veiled in quality.

Designations for harmonics in flutes (and some other

woodwind instruments) are similar to those used by string

players for natural harmonics. Figure 14 shows the

desired pitch with the harmonic notation indicated (o).

The notes in pararenthesis are the fingered fundamentals

used to obtain the harmonic.

SO_ o

Figure 14
Possible harmonic fundamentals

Usually the player transposes down an octave and a fifth

(or an octave) to obtain the desired result, but other

options are available and sometimes requested by the


The demands being placed upon the performer of

contemporary or avant-garde literature are increasing with

each new composition. Many of these "new" or so-called

"unusual" devices are based upon established acoustical

principles. It becomes imperative that the performer be

well versed in or at least have a practical working

knowledge of acoustical theory to approach successfully

performance of twentieth century literature.



With a background of acoustical theories as a basis of

reference, an investigation into the actual construction

of the modern flute can proceed. The flute is

approximately 67 centimeters (26.4 inches) in length. Its

bore or air column is 1.9 centimeters (0.75 inches) in

diameter and is cylindrical for 3/4 the length of the body.

A narrowing of the bore occurs at the embouchure end of

the flute or head joint as it is called. This narrowing

is in the form of a parabolic curve and reduces the

diameter of the bore to 1.7 centimeters at the end of the

head joint.1 The plug or cork stopper that is located

at the end of the head joint is set at a distance equal to

the diameter of the tube from the center of the embouchure

hole (see figure 15). This distance is 17 millimeters

(about 11/16 inches).2

1 J. Bachus, The Acoustical Foundations of Music (New
York: W. W. Norton and Co., Inc., 1969), p. 224.
2 Theobald Boehm, The Flute and Flute Playing (New
York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1964), p. 108.

51.5 mm 12.2 mm

A/ 17 mm
-. 17 mm

Figure 15
Flute head joint measurements

The shape of the embouchure hole is either elliptical

( 1) or rectangular ( = ) and about 1/2 inch in its

long dimension. The measurements of the embouchure hole

most often used are those given by Theobald Boehm: 10.4

millimeters by 12.2 millimeters (0.409 in. by 0.480


The flute disassembles into three separate pieces. The

head joint already mentioned and the body of the

instrument, which divides into the middle section and the

foot joint. The body of the flute contains thirteen tone

holes plus other holes to facilitate trills, shakes, and

alternate fingerings (see figure 16). Some flutes employ

an additional key on the foot joint enabling them to

obtain one extra note, low b (

3 Theobald Boehm, The Flute and Flute Playing (New
York: Dover Publications, 1964), p. 24.



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
head joint

middle foot

embouchure d# d low b
hole trill trill

Figure 16
The flute

The parts of the flute are joined together by means of

tenons. A tenon is an extension of one segment of the

pipe which is made to fit by sliding into the adjoining

socket of the next pipe forming a tight joint. The tenon

between the head joint and the middle section is

approximately two inches in length and is sometimes

referred to as a tuning slide.

There are basically two types of modern flutes in use

today, the plateau or closed-hole flute and the French

model or open-hole flute which has perforations in five of

the keys. Preference for a particular model (both are

available with low b foot joints) is personal. Since

international pitch became standard around 1920, the bore,

construction, scale, and pitch of the flute also became

standardized. National patterns for a particular model of


flute have emerged. In the United States, both plateau

and French model flutes are built and played, but the

French model is the type more often preferred by

professional teachers and advanced students. In France,

the obvious choice is the French model and the plateau

flute is rather scarce. England is as heterogeneous as

the United States but without the preference for the

open-hole model. Germany, Italy, and most of Eastern

Europe are faithful to the plateau model with the French

model being less in demand.

Theobald Boehm's Influence

One cannot discuss the modern flute without

acknowledging the efforts of one Theobald Boehm (1794 -

1881) in connection with construction principles. The

flute as we know it in the twentieth century owes much of

its existence to this man. In fact, it is often called

the Boehm system flute.

Originally, the flute of the early eighteen hundreds

had anywhere from five to ten keys with a conical based

bore structure. The new construction concepts which Boehm

employed in 1847 completely revolution ized-his flute and

can be grouped into three main principles.



The first area of reconstruction has to do with the

bore of the flute. Boehm introduced the cylindrical bore

with the parabolic head joint. He found that because of

this contraction of the bore as it reaches the embouchure

("amounting to about 1/10 of the diameter at the

cork4), the second and third octaves of the flute tend

to be out of tune with the first octave. Through

experiments Boehm found that by constructing a small

chamber beyond the embouchure hole, he could adjust the

tuning of the upper octaves. This is accomplished by the

use of a plug or stopper, which screws into the end of the

head joint. Moving the adjustable cork enables the

performer to alter the position of the antinode at the

embouchure and thus bring the three octaves into closer

intonation agreement. Figure 15 illustrates the proper

position of the cork to create the chamber beyond the

mouth-hole. From one end of the flute to the other end is

670 millimeters (mm) which is the theoretical length of

the air column. The actual length of the air column is

618.5 mm (for low c) from the c tone hole (end of the

flute for instruments without a b foot joint) to the face

of the cork. This distance (51.5 mm) must be incorporated

into any calculations regarding the flute. It exists to

correct the flattening influence of the mouth-hole, cork,

tone holes, and the diminishing of the bore so that the

4 E. G. Richardson, The Acoustics of Orchestral
Instruments and Organ (London: E. Arnold and Co., 1929),
p. 47.


column corresponds to the length of a vibrating string of

the same proportions.5 Improper placement of this

stopper can result in serious intonation problems.

The second area of work involves the tone holes and

their placement. Boehm required that holes be bored for

all of the chromatic notes in their acoustically correct

position. Each of these holes was then made as large as

possible and required to remain standing open to aid

intonation and tone quality. On the present flute, g# and

d# are the only notes which remain closed. They are

easily opened when needed (see figure 16). The two trill

keys (d and d# see figure 16) and the a# key which

duplicates the thumb plate are also closed notes but are

accessory keys to aid the technical facility of the


The above improvements necessitated the third area of

construction by Boehm. He devised a key mechanism to

enable the fingers to control all of the holes. This new

mechanism greatly enhanced the facility of the performer

and allowed for newer and more agile feats of technique.

The materials of which flutes are made is again a

matter of taste. Earlier flutes were made from many

various substances including wood and ivory. Modern

flutes are most commonly made of silver, wood, gold, or

platinum. Wooden flutes are reporte-d to have "sweet"

5 Theobald Boehm, The Flute and Flute Playing (New
York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1964), p. 34.


sounds but very little projection power. The heavier

metals, gold and platinum, are known for their mellow

tones but are considered not as versatile as silver. In

fact, silver flutes were first introduced by Boehm in

1847, and were preferred for large room performances

mainly because of their "great ability for tone

modulation, and for the unsurpassed brilliancy and

sonorousness of their tone."6

Acoustical Properties

As a result of its construction, the flute functions as

an open pipe capable of producing all of the partial in

the harmonic series (see figure 6). Because of its

adjustments in construction (the movable cork) certain of

the partial are flat or sharp to the tones of the true

harmonic series and are therefore referred to as

inharmonic. These overtones are not substantially

elicited when the entire system is set in vibration. It

is due to this fact that the note of a Boehm flute is

considered pure in a sense that the aggregate of upper

partial is at a modicum. Oscillographic records of the

flute played at soft volumes show "by the pure and

unbroken sinusoidal wave-form, that the 'note' is almost

6 Theobald Boehm, The Flute and Flute Playing (New
York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1964), p. 54.


entirely composed of an isolated fundamental."7 (see

figure 17).

Figure 17
Sinusoidal wave-form

These waves are created and maintained within the air

column of the flute. Since the pitch of the flute is

"determined by the length of a vibrating air column within

the tube",8 the opening and closing of various holes

in the walls of the instrument define the length of the

wave that is allowed to generate the sound.9 The power

to maintain the vibrations acoustically results from an

oscillating air stream.

The air column is set in motion by the player blowing

across the embouchure hole. The breath strikes the edge

of the mouth-hole cutting the air into various eddies.

The vibrations of the flute air column are generated by

this edge tone mechanism. The player controls the air

stream which determines the frequency and quality of the

sound and allows for greater flexibility and control.

7 E. G. Richardson, The Acoustics of Orchestral
Instruments and Organ (London: E. Arnold and Co., 1929),
p. 48.
8 Robert Dick, The Other Flute: A Performance Manual
of Contemporary Techniques (London: Oxford University
Press, 1975), p. 1.
9 J. Bachus, The Acoustical Foundations of Music (New
York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1969), p. 183.

Tone Production

Essentially, there are three main principles involved

in tone production on the flute. The first principle

concerns the speed of the air column. The player's

external muscles.(abdominal and stomach) push and flex

against the diaphragm muscles which in turn function to

control the speed at which the air is expelled from the

mouth into the flute. The harder the air is expelled, the

faster the speed of the air column: the slower it is

expelled, the slower the speed. It is this speed of the

air within the column that controls the dynamic level or

loudness of the pitch. Faster air speed results in louder

levels. This concept of air column speed should not be

confused with intensity or support. "Loudness is the

subjective reaction to intensity and it may be modified

through quality, pitch, and other factors even if the

intensity remains constant."10 In other words, it is

possible to play at any dynamic level with a high degree

of intensity. Support is an isometric action obtained by

the diaphragmatic muscles working against the abdominal

muscles. A similar muscular tension occurs when the air

is forced through a small opening in the lips, but this

time it is the embouchure muscle which gives resistance

10 E. Stringham, "Acoustics," in The International
Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians, Vol. 1 (New York:
Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1964), p. 11.


against the air column rather than muscle versus muscle as

in the abdominal area. These tensions must be present at

all times (in varying degrees) in order to produce the

control necessary to play with what is considered a "good"

tone, appropriate to musical demands.

The second principle involved in tone production is

that of the size of the air column. By changing the size

and shape of the aperture between the lips through which

the air leaves the mouth, the performer can alter the

timbre of the sound. A smaller aperture increases the

edge or core of the sound produced and can cause the pitch

to rise or become sharp. A larger aperture causes the

resultant sound to be diffuse in nature with the pitch

becoming somewhat lower. Players use this principle

combined with the first (air column speed) to achieve a

wide range of dynamics and tone colors without the pitches

becoming marred by intonation difficulties (for example:

blowing harder causes a sharper pitch, but enlarging the

embouchure hole lowers the pitch). As with all physical

skills, it is easier to achieve than to verbalize.

The last principle of tone production concerns the air

column direction. Without the use of register keys, the

different registers or octaves are obtained through the

direction at which the air stream cuts the edge of the

embouchure hole. When the stream of air is aimed low

(with the lower jaw pulled back), the column focal point


is directed more into the embouchure hole and the lower

register notes will be produced. By allowing the lower

jaw to move forward, the player will direct the air stream

across the embouchure hole and the ease with which the

higher register notes speak will increase. The same

effects can be achieved by rolling the flute in or out

through wrist movements. This is not a good technique to

encourage because the movements do interfere with the

embouchure control and lip placement. These external

movements (the wrist) are not necessary when the same

results can be obtained through lip control (with slight

jaw or head movement) without sacrificing flexibility or


The discussion of these three principles leads to the

conclusion that though the flute is easily played

out-of-tune it is also easily played in-tune. This is

true, but "it is not possible to play a flute with good

tone quality . focused, controllable sound, at any

pitch other than that for which the instrument was built

in the first place, give or take a leeway of roughly five

to ten cents."1ll The performer will use those three

principles to adjust the quality of the sound and to

11 Thomas Howell, The Avant-Garde Flute: A Handbook
for Composers _and Flutists (Los Angeles: University of
California Press, 1974), p. 7.
A cent is a logarithmic measurement equal to 1/100 of
the semitone of the well-tempered scale; therefore, a
chromatic semitone equals 100 cents. Willi Apel,
"Intervals, Calculation of, IV" in Harvard Dictionary of
Music (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977), p.


achieve the proper pitch. For example, if the tuning

slide tenon is drawn out the pitch will correspondingly be

lower. The player will then adjust the pitch throughmeans

of focusing the tone more by uncovering a larger portion

of the embouchure hole than usually covered with the lip,

or compensate by using a tighter embouchure. This results

in a very broad, loud sound that has little or no

flexibility in soft passages. Conversely, if the tuning

slide is pushed in (giving sharper pitches), the player

will cover more of the embouchure hole to achieve a

focused tone resulting in a very thin sound. In essence,

this is saying that the flute when played with a correctly

focused sound will only play at the pitch for which it was

constructed and that the tuning slide is used less as a

device for tuning and more as a means of regulating tonal



Vibrato is a fluctuation of the frequency and its

amplitude13 "produced by a controlled irregularity in

the wind supply."14 This process can be accomplished

12 Thomas Howell, The Avant-Garde Flute: A Handbook
for Composers and Flutists (Los Angeles: University of
California Press, 1974), p. 7.
13 Brought to the attention of this writer in a
conversation with Edward C. Troupin, April, 1980.
14 Robert Donington, "Vibrato," in Grove's Dictionary
of Music and Musicians, Vol. 8 (New York: St. Martin's
Press, Inc., 1954), p. 765.



by two different methods. One means of obtaining vibrato

is through the rapid relaxation and constriction of the

throat muscles. Teachers do not often recommend this

method because it is more difficult to control. When the

constrictions become too fast, a "nanny-goat" vibrato

results and sounds rather like an overworked electric

organ. The pulses to the vibrato can also become too

pronounced and begin to sound like accented strokes rather

than the expected smooth texture. Many times the tension

caused from using throat vibrato can result in either

subvocalizations that can be heard or in a smaller overall

sound. Its usefulness comes when the performer is

required to play with a much faster vibrato or with one

calling for pulsations.

The most commonly used vibrato is an intensity vibrato.

This method of vibrato is generated by the isometric

action of the diaphragm working with the abdominal muscles

(as described under principle one in tone production)

The resultant tension from this procedure creates an

undulation or shaking motion of the air column, and

produces a smooth and controlled vibrato.15 The

vibrato speed is dependent on the amount of tension

created. Greater tension produces faster vibrato and less

tension produces slower vibrato.

15 William Montgomery, "Flute Tone Production, Part
II," The Instrumentalist, Vol. 33, no. 3 (October 1978),
p. 45.

In the intensity method of vibrato production, the

undulating movements of the air column result in slight

pitch fluctuations. These distortions are quite small

("five cents maximum on either side of the pitch center

and usually less."16) and arise out of the

manipulation of intensity. The timbre of the tone changes

during this effect due to the different harmonics or

partial employed during the rising and falling motion of

the pitch. It is an instantaneous process and produces a

shimmering effect characteristic of good flute sound. An

out-of-focus (out-of-tune) blown pitch does not shimmer

because of a lack of reinforcement within the tube. Full

reinforcement of partial from the tube does not occur

from a single pitch (one without vibrato), but is brought

into utilization when vibrato is used.

Primarily, vibrato is used for expressive purposes in a

restrained or deliberate manner. Flutists often use

vibrato to add warmth or change the color of the tone.

16 Thomas Howell, The Avant-Garde Flute: A Handbook
for Composers and Flutists (Los Angeles: University of
California Press, 1974), p. 10.


A discussion of overblowing and harmonics is closely

related to or dependent upon the explanation of tone

production. The three principles involved in tone

production in conjunction with the acoustical

characteristics of the flute are the bases for the

concepts of overblowing and of obtaining harmonics.

As discussed before, a vibrating air column has the

same attributes as does a vibrating string the

characteristic aggregate of fundamentals and overtones.

By a forcing of the air pressure beyond the normal level

needed to produce a fundamental, the higher partial of

the harmonic series are produced and accentuated.17

This process is referred to as overblowing.

Because the flute is an open pipe enabling it to

produce all of the partial in the harmonic series, it is

said to overblow at the octave. The octave is the first

interval in the harmonic series (see figure 6). This

first octave or fundamental octave consists of the notes b

to b1 (see figure 18) and is obtained by normal embouchure



A C - .I*

Fundamental vented 1st overtone 2nd overtone
octave harmonics octave octave

Figure 18
Octave breakdown

The first overtone octave, consisting of the notes e2

through c#3 (figure 18) is obtained by splitting in half

the width of the air stream necessary to produce the

fundamental octave. The size or width of the air stream

is controlled by the size of the opening in the player's

lips. This reduction by half of the air column results in

a subsequent doubling of the rate of vibration causing the

octave displacement. (For example, in figure 5 it can be

seen that al has a frequency of 440. Doubling that

frequency results in 880 which is the frequency of a2, an

octave higher.)

The second overtone octave (d3 and upwards, figure 18)

follows the same pattern as the preceding one. The air

stream must be half the width of the one used to obtain

the first overtone octave, plus opening certain finger

holes to act as vents which will be discussed later.


The process of overblowing serves two important

functions in flute playing: that of enabling the player

to obtain the upper register notes and secondly, to

produce the various harmonics available.

Upper Register Notes

When flutists speak of the upper register, they are

referring to the notes d3 and above (see figure 18). The

notes below this register are either fundamentals or the

octave notes obtained by overblowing those fundamentals.

Therefore, upper register notes are third or higher

partial. This makes them more difficult to achieve

especially for beginning students as they require a more

advanced lip control than is often exemplified by

"younger" players. Flutes are not equipped with register

keys such as the ones found on oboes and clarinets, but

depend on lip control to overblow the higher notes. These

upper partial notes are lower in pitch than the notes of

the true harmonic series due to the flattening effects of

the flute's construction. Boehm was aware of this

difficulty and described it as being caused by the

"wave meeting] with a resistance from the air contained

in the lower part of the tube, which is so considerable

that all the tones are much too flat when they come from

holes placed at the points determined by actually cutting


the tube . And, moreover, the height of the sides of

the holes adds to the flattening effect.' "8 To

correct this inherent flattening effect of the upper

partial, flute players open specific finger holes when

playing notes in the upper register. This process of

opening keys is referred to as venting.

Venting is founded on the acoustical principle of

altering the length and width of the tube which in turn

affects the distance the air column must travel. As

discussed in the acoustics chapter, the vented hole is

located at or near a node (N). The venting procedure aids

in the production of an antinode (L) which in turn raises

the pitch of the note. In explanation of this rather

confusing statement, it is a known fact that "a widening

of the bore of a pipe near an antinode (L) of the note

which it is sounding raises the pitch of that

note..."19 Since venting alters the length and width

of the tube at that point, it accomplishes the same feat:

that of raising the pitch of an already flattened note,

thus bringing it into a corrected pitch.

An unusual aspect of this single venting process is

that in the notes d#3 (or eb3) to g3 (see figure 19), the

vented fingering corresponds' to the note fingered an

octave and a fifth below the desired pitch.

18 Theobald Boehm, The Fluteandte a ute Playing (New
York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1964), p. 26.
19 E. G. Richardson, The Acoustics of Orchestral
Instruments and Organ (London: E. Arnold and Co., 1929),
p. 47.

Figure 19
Single vented notes

Figure 20 illustrates this phenomena as such: the

fundamental pitch is notated as ( ); the upper register

desired pitch is represented by ( o ); and the fingering

that corresponds to the vented pitch is shown by ( 0 ).

- --~- ~----

1 vent 2 vents

3rd 4th 5th
partial partial partial

Figure 20
Corresponding vented fingerings
of upper register pitches

Looking back at figure 13, one can immediately see that

this is a similar process to the one string players

utilize to obtain artificial harmonics: fingering a

fundamental, touching lightly a node, and sounding the

desired harmonic. The difference is that by venting and

thus creating an antinode and a shorter tube length, the

veiled quality associated with harmonics is eliminated.

The first pitch interval (d3) in figure 20 seems to

contradict or at least be out of place with the other

parts of the example. Its vented fingering is an octave

below the desired pitch rather than an ocatve and a fifth.

This is unusual but can be acoustically explained. The

pitches d#3 to g#3 are all fourth partial (as shown in

figure 20), but d3 is a third partial of the fundamental

gl. The vented hole is 1/3 the distance from the

embouchure hole to the end of the tube (using the


fundamental gl tube length). When opened, the fingering

would produce the third partial of a harmonic series

constructed on the fundamental gl which is d3 (see

figure 21).

3rd partial
S- 2nd partial

(1st partial)
Figure 21
Fundamental gl with partial

As can be seen in figure 20, the notes g#3 and above

require two vents rather than one. The acoustical

principles involved are the same but exceedingly more

confusing the higher the notes go.

Another characteristic of this venting process is that

with each rise in pitch from d#3 on, the antinode (L)

opening achieved by venting moves one degree closer to the

upper end (embouchure) of the flute20 (see figure 22).

20 C. B. Hilton, "Acoustics and Upper Register
Fingerings," Instrumentalist, Vol. 21 (February 1976), pp.


5 4 3 2 1

1 2 3 4 5

Figure 22
Illustration of inward movement
venting process

The f3 and f#3 represented in figure 22 by the number 3

finger hole involve a shift in the left hand thumb key and

the use of the ft key in the right hand. This movement

opens a key that lies between the first and second finger

of the left hand. So, even though the two notes appear to

use the same vent in terms of fingering, the actual

opening conforms to the inward movement principle.


Harmonics, defined as overblown pitches different from

the normal fingerings that follow the harmonic or overtone

series (figure 6), are one of the earliest and easiest

ways with which to alter their timbre of the flute. These


veiled partial are dependent upon the principle of

overblowing. Splitting the air stream of the fundamental

in 1/2 results in a 12th above the fundamental or the

second overtone (3rd partial); etc.

When discussing harmonics, there is often a slight

confusion as to the uses of overblowing and venting.

Overblowing is necessary in the production of harmonics

and the upper register notes of the flute. While venting

is normally associated with upper register note

acquisition, it is also used to a degree in harmonics.

Between the fundamental octave and the first overtone

octave in figure 18 are the notes c2 through d#2. As

indicated, they are vented harmonics of the fundamental

octave. The use of the vent changes the veiled quality of

these tones and they no longer respond as harmonics. To

play the notes c2 through d#2 as harmonics, the performer

simply uses the fundamental fingering rather than the

normal vented fingering and overblows to the octave.

Because of the construction of the flute, there are no

harmonics possible for the notes e2 and f2 (also f#2 for

those flutes with a low c foot joint). These notes use

the same fingering (not vented) as the corresponding note

in the fundamental octave and the range of the flute does

not extend downwards enough to accommodate an octave and a

fifth below to allow for these harmonics. The notes of

the first overtone octave (figure 18) are in fact


harmonics produced by overblowing, but are rarely thought

of as such because of the fact that they do not act or

sound like harmonics in terms of intonation and


As discussed in the chapter on acoustics, the

designation for harmonics on flute is a small circle ( )

placed above the desired pitch (see figure 23).


Figure 23
Designation of harmonic

Usually these notes are obtained as unvented third or

higher partial of the 15 chromatic tones from low b up to

open c#2 (assuming a low b foot joint is in use 14 tones

if not). Because the flute is an open pipe capable of

producing a full range of overtones in the harmonic

series, many different fundamentals are available to the

player from which he can select the desired harmonic.

Figure 24 illustrates the harmonic possibilities in terms

of fingerings.

21 Thomas Howell, The Avant-Garde Flute: A Handbook
for Composers and Flutists (Los Angeles: University of
California Press, 1974), p. 14.



( o ) = desired harmonic
( ) = possible fundamental

Figure 24
Illustration of harmonic possibilities

The fact that there are varied possibilities for

obtaining harmonics is fortunate for the flutists due to

the problem encountered with the pitches above d3. They

are flat to the fundamental pitch and embouchure

adjustment is hardly adequate to correct this inherent

difficulty. Basically, the problem arises out of the

playing resistance found in the instrument in the higher

register. Regardless of which fundamental is used, it is

difficult to obtain harmonics beyond a3 or b3. Another

problem is that acoustically, only the lowest note on the

flute (low cl or b) is perfectly vented. The notes that

are generated higher (on shorter tubing) are incomplete in

their venting, which results in a flattening of the upper

partial in relation to the fundamental. Therefore, the


upper partial of fundamentals that are located near cl

(or b) are closer to "true" pitch than the partial of

fundamentals using short tubing. The many possibilities

that are available help eliminate or correct some of these


Though composers are most interested in harmonics for

their timbral quality, flute players have found an

entirely different use for them. Harmonic fingerings are

often employed as an extra resource to aid in increasing

technical facility. Difficult passages, fingerwise, can

be simplified through the use of harmonics. For example,

figure 25-A presents a difficult technical problem if

22 Thomas Howell, The Avant-Garde Flute: A Handbook
for Composers and Flutists (Los Angeles: University of
California Press, 1974), p. 14-15.

___ __


repeated at fast speeds. By using harmonic fingerings

(figure 25-B) the difficulty is eliminated and the overall

sonority is not noticeably affected.

Figure 2523
Facility exercise

23 Technical facility exercise (memorized) as taught by
Robert Cavally. Based on the flute orchestral excerpt
from The Moldau (from Ma Vlast) by Bedrich Smetana.

- L I t- : i I I I I I

_ ___~._..___ ._________ ___ ____.______...


There are enormous expansion and diversity in the

technical requirements involved in instrumental

performance of twentieth century literature. Those

idiomatic to the flute are here subject to examination

under three major subheadings: monophonic sonorities;

special effects; and multiple sonorities.

Monophonic Sonorities

Monophonic sonorities, as the name implies, are those

special devices which involve production of a single sound

and a dependence on traditional or established principles

of flute playing. There are six major areas or categories

under monophonic devices. The first category is that of



Artificial harmonics

The discussion of harmonics in the preceding two

chapters dealt with the "natural" harmonics, which are

derived from a fundamental according to the acoustical


principles of the flute's construction. It is also

possible for the performer to obtain harmonics from

apparent fundamentals. These are referred to as

"artificial" harmonics. Through the use of nonstandard

fingerings, a pitch which approximates another pitch can

be used as a fundamental (an apparent fundamental with

which to obtain harmonics see figure 26). These

"artificial" harmonics are different in timbre from

"natural" ones due to the enhancement of their unusually

derived upper partial.


II II 1~ m ii

desired 'natural' 'artificial'

Figure 26
Harmonic derivation

Also, these harmonics do not follow the relationship found

in the harmonic series (see figure 6) and therefore seem

at times to have no logical relationship with the

fundamentally. Notationally, in addition to the

standard small circle above the note ( o ), fingerings for

the "artificial" harmonics are usually provided by the

composer when a timbral change is desired.

1 B. Bartolozzi, New Sounds for Woodwind (London:
Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 13.



Octave harmonics

In addition to "natural" and "artificial" harmonics,

this category contains other devices that are closely

related to or dependent upon the harmonic series. The

next device encountered is referred to as fundamental

octave harmonics.

As discussed in chapter three, there are no harmonics

"natural" or "artificial" for the notes below f2. Because

of the flute's construction, the octave and a fifth

necessary to obtain these fundamentals is not available.

It is possible however, through the use of

non-conventional or unusual fingerings to produce pitches

in this range (b to f2) which give the veiled effect of

low register harmonics. By definition, they are not

harmonics, but rather altered fingerings that result in

soft, fuzzy, 'spread' sounds that closely resemble the

higher harmonics obtained by overblowing a fundamental.

The usual notation for a harmonic ( o ) can be employed,

but the altered fingerings to obtain these sounds should

be provided.

Whistle tones

Whistle tones, also known as whisper or flagelot tones,

are in this category under monophonic sonorities. William

Kincaid is credited with the first official use of this

device as a teaching technique. He used whistle tones as

a warm-up exercise designed for lip control and

relaxation2. Whistle tones are the soft, high, and

clear individual upper partial of the fingered note.

Usually, they involve the fifth through tenth partial

with some lower notes capable of producing up to the

sixteenth partial, or four octaves above the fundamental

(see figure 27).

8va 8va

fundamental partial fundamental partial
(WT) (WT)

Figure 27
Whistle tones

This allows for between five to fourteen available sounds.

Whistle tones are possible on every fingering but the

lower fingerings are more quick to produce the desired


2 Thomas Howell, The Avant-Garde Flute: A Handbook for
Comoosers and Flutists (Los Angeles: University of
California Press, 1974), p. 26.


These soft tones are produced by gently di-recting the

air column across the embouchure hole using little or no

lip pressure. The whistling sound (the higher partial)

is the air spilling over the edge of the lip plate without

causing the air in the tube itself to vibrate. The

resultant pitches are sharper than those normally obtained

with that fingering. The actual register of the whistle

tone is controlled by raising or lowering the tongue, just

as if you were whistling, hence one possible source of its

name. There are no standard means of notation for whistle

tones. Commonly, WT is printed over the note with an *

and an explanatory footnote. Also seen is the use of a

diamond shaped note ( 0 ) with a footnote. Some composers

employ the method of notating the fundamental and the

desired whistle tones (see figure 28).




Figure 28
Whistle tone notation

This points out one of the problems encountered with

whistle tones. Notating the sounding pitches is very nice

on paper, but whistle tones are very unreliable. They are


not easily isolated as they tend to oscillate between

pitches very readily. Also, their dynamic range is

limited. The tones themself are barely audible beyond

twenty feet. Many performers have discovered that

sustaining whistle tones is difficult and articulation

nearly impossible.

Pitch Changes

The second category under monophonic sonorities

involves changes or distortions of single pitches.

Basically, this category divides into three areas of pitch

alteration: pitch bending; muting; and altered


Bending pitches

Bending involves raising or lowering a pitch without

changing the fingering. By moving the head or jaw up and

down or by rolling the flute out and in, one can achieve

this effect. It is also possible to bend pitches through

the use of lip control. All three processes involve the

same principle of controlling the direction of the air

stream as it cuts across the embouchure plate. This

causes the pitch to rise if the air is positioned upward

(about a 1/4 tone sharp) and fall if blown downward (up to

a 1/2 step flat). It is much easier to lip a pitch down
than to force it up. Notation for pitch bending is
unclear and plentiful. Unclear in that it can indicate
the direction in which the tone is bent, but not the exact
degree of its distortion. Some of the various methods for
indicating bends are seen in figure 29.

rp r

J J I 1J 'f Ir
4 6

r -t + 4 1/4 sharp 4 1t l 1/4 flat
R 3/4 sharp 4 / 3/4 flat

use of cents with arrows: 254 50 751
nota fluessuosa (bend sharp then flat)3

Figure 29
Pitch bending varies by composer

Muting tones

The second area of pitch modification is muting.
Because of its method of tone production, the flute does
not lend itself to muting as easily as does the violin or
trumpet. One method of muting requires changes in

3 A. Lesueuer, "Special Effects in Contemporary Music,"
Instrumentalist, Vol. 22 (December 1967), p. 67.

fingerings. By closing holes below the last open tone

hole, the timbre of the pitch can be softened. The

results are fuzzy, soft pitches which are sometimes called

spread tones. Two other methods of muting are available

but involve adjustments to the flute itself and must have

time with which to be prepared. The first of these is to

remove the foot joint and place a tissue or cloth

(preferably soft) into the remaining tube. This is an

effective muting process but does result in the loss of

several notes (cl, c#1, d#1, and d#2). The second method

does not cause any notes to be lost but is longer in

preparation. It requires that the embouchure hole be

partially covered resulting in a reduced air flow without

reducing the intensity. This produces a softer or muted

effect. Tape is the easiest material to use and does not

damage the lip plate. Placing strips of tape on either

side of the embouchure hole effectively reduces the size

of the air stream and accomplishes the muting process (see

figure 30).


Figure 30
Flute embouchure hole muting

Altered finqerings

The third area of pitch modification involves altered

fingerings. These unusual or non-standard fingerings

distort the fixed fundamental/overtone arrangement of the

flute by allowing tone holes to be vented that would not

normally be opened. This brings about the formation of

multiple tube-lengths within the flute. It is the

entrance of these multiple tube-lengths that allows

closely aligned harmonics to sound in juxtaposition with

the original harmonic series, thus changing the timbre of

the pitch. Although some of these fingerings and ideas

are new, others have been employed by flutists for some

time. Because playing extremely loud notes can force the

pitches sharp, performers have often substituted "strong"

fingerings when projection is necessary. Even though many

flutists are aware of these notes, composers of

contemporary music often supply fingerings when they wish

I _,,

them to be used. In the same context, the opposite eEfect

is also employed by using sharper pitches to play softer

passages. Usually these pitches are reinforced harmonics.

The reinforcement is achieved by using a fingering that

would support a common partial of two different

fundamentals. This will result in a note of bright timbre

and less intensity (a narrow focus). It is possible to

play these sharper pitches in tune very softly without

going flat or losing the tone altogether. The notation

for these fingerings is usually provided and many times is

possible only on a French model flute.

Another obvious result of altered fingerings is timbral

variation. The most common usage is for darkening or

spreading the sound. Brightening the timbre by adding

high partial and thereby weakening the fundamental can be

achieved, but as discussed in the previous paragraph is

commonly associated with playing soft passages in tune.

The opposite effect, tones that lack upper partial, have

a very non-resonant, diffuse quality. Often they are

referred to as "hollow" tones because of their empty,

lack-of-focus sounds. Very similar to these tones are

"weak" tones or "funky" fingerings, as they are sometimes

called. As the name implies, these tones are weak and

distorted due to their unusual fingerings and resultant

transparent tonal structures.


Thus far, the area of altered fingerings has primarily

been concerned with timbral change or enhancement.

Another consequence of altering or substituting fingerings

is that of actually changing the pitch itself. Fingerings

that can raise or lower a pitch without employing extra

harmonic reinforcements are known as "inflected pitches".

These pitches tend to be "stuffy" and not as resonant as

normal fingerings. "Interestingly, vibrato does not yield

as good a response with inflected pitches as it does in

normal usage. Vibrato seems to enhance the mistuned

partial and the tone becomes progressively more stuffy.

One of the newer and more extensively used areas of

altered fingerings is that of microtones. Basically,

microtones are pitches that are located between half

steps, whether they are quarter tones or some such larger

or smaller fraction of the interval. These notes are

produced either by bending (usually lip control) or

changing the fingering in some manner that allows closely

aligned harmonics to sound. The French model flute is

well adapted to this technique because of its perforated

keys. By depressing the rim of the key and not closing

the tone hole (rim vent, or by partially venting the tone

hole), microtones can easily be produced. A complete

microtonal scale on any flute is difficult for several

reasons. First of all, on the plateau flute many options

for fingerings are removed because of its closed tone

holes. A complete quarter tone scale on the plateau flute

is not possible without extreme dexeterity of lip bending

which is not always practical. On the French model flute

a quarter tone scale can be closely approximated. The

primary reason for problems is due to the fingering

mechanism of the flute. Referring back to figure 16, the

g key (#5) is mechanically linked to the g# hole covering

(#6, thus the reason for the necessary duplicate tone hole

#6a) and the f key (#8) closes both the f# tone hole (#7,

not the f# key #10) and the g hole cover (#7). The f# key

(#10) also closes the g tone hole (#7). This linked

mechanism makes it difficult to achieve microtones between

these pitches solely by rim venting. Drastically altered

fingerings, usually employing the closing of keys below

the last open tone hole, must be used to achieve -the

desired microtones. Also the notes between a# and d (in

both octaves) encounter similar problems simply because

they are restrained by the closed-key structure of the:

flute on these pitches (present on both the plateau and

French model instruments). Some flutists maintain that

regardless of the instrument played "no complete set of

quarter tones can be worked out on the plateau system

flute"4 and that even the French model flute is

capable only of an approximation and not a complete

quarter tone scale.

4 Thomas Howell, The Avant-Garde Flute: A Handbook for
Composers and Flutists (Los Angeles: University of
California Press, 1974), p. 18.


Some of the problems associated with microtonal pitches

are caused by the fingerings. First of all, the new

fingerings are often complex and unusual', making sight

reading and learning a slower process than normal. Also,

these unusual fingerings do not lend themselves to facile

technical passages easily and sliding on and off key rims

can result in unfortunate mishaps. In addition,, these

distorted fingerings interfere with the normal use of

dynamics as they result most often in softer or less

focused pitches that are impossible to play loudly. This

aspect of microtonal production requires that embouchure

adjustments be made by the performer. Many times rolling

the flute will be employed to amend pitches. This can

interfere not only with tone production, but also with

dynamics and the microtones themself.

Another problematic area of microtones involve notation.

As seen in lip bending (figure 29), there are various

means also for notating microtones whether they are higher

or lower than normal pitches. This aspect of microtones

will be investigated in the chapter on notation.


Vibrato as such has often been used by flutists to

change the timbral quality of a pitch whether it be in the

area of intensity or emotional content. In contemporary


literature, the extent of vibrato usage has expanded.

Quite often, composers instruct performers to play

passages or single notes without vibrato. Depending upon

the register and dynamics involved, this device can

greatly alter the timbre of the given pitches. At the

other extreme, exaggerated or pronounced vibrato is often

used. This can either be in the area of the speed of the

pulsations (be they fast or slow) and the actual size or

range of these undulations (wide or narrow) Notation

usually involves a descriptive note and the following

indications (see figure 31).

VF VS VW VN VF = very fast vib.
SVS = slow
VW = wide
VN = narrow
V -V- ---- V V U V VAA

r r r r

fast vib. slow vib. wide vib. narrow vib.

Figure 31
Vibrato notations

These notational indications are by their very nature

ambiguous in that they can only give generalizations

regarding a very individualized activity.


In addition to no vibrato and pronounced vibrato,

composers sometimes request uneven vibrato. As with the

other usages, notation would necessitate some form of

descriptive instructions to accompany the figure. Uneven

vibrato is sometimes displayed as seen in figure 32.


Figure 32
Uneven vibrato notation

The use of many of the devices of contemporary

literature often overpowers or rules out the use of

vibrato. Composers and performers should be aware of the

phenomenon as it influences performance guidelines. For

example, singing while playing (which will be discussed

later) causes vibrato to become rather ineffective as does

its usage with most multiphonic devices.

Trill and Tremolo

The fourth category of monophonic sonorities involves

trills and tremolos. These devices are not new to

twentieth century usage, but have been employed by

composers for many years. Trills, which are the rapid

alternations between two notes either a whole or a half

step apart, first originated in the sixteenth century.


They were used by performers as ornamented resolutions at

cadences most often occurring on suspended dissonances.

These trills employ standard fingerings with some uses for

special trill keys (see figure 16) to aid in facility.

Tremolos, which involve alternations between intervals

larger than a whole step also use regular fingerings.

In contemporary literature, this category has been

expanded to include trills or tremolos on single pitches

and for microtonal pitches. Color trill, bariolage,

enharmonic trill, key vibrato, and unison tremolo all

refer to the same technique, the single pitch trill. Most

often this device is attained by alternating between

standard fingerings and harmonic fingerings. They are

essentially timbral trills and are often notated by using

a combination of the trill indicator ( V-.--) plus the

symbol for harmonics ( o ) (see figure 33).

r or or

Figure 33
Harmonic trill notation

Trills or tremolos involving microtonal pitches are

very similar in concept to single pitch trills in that

they both incorporate non-standard fingerings. Microtonal

trills are comprised of standard and altered fingerings


being rapidly exchanged. These altered fingerings as

discussed earlier (see pitch changes) can be as much as a

quarter tone different in pitch from the standard

fingering. Obviously, more possibilities occur in the

upper register of the flute where more numerous and

adjacent partial are available. Notation for these

microtonal trills would be as follows (see figure 34).

4.r or r or r or etc.

1/4 up 1/4 down (see 1/4 tone accidental
in figure 29)

Figure 34
Microtonal trill notation

As with altered fingerings and multiple fingerings

there are many available charts for trills and tremolos in

their various forms. Composers usually use these sources

to supply the necessary fingerings in the notation when

they wish unusual or new trills or tremolos.

Extended Range

Contemporary uses of the solo flute demand a vast

extention of the range of notes that are available.

Previous composers thought of the range of the flute as


incorporating the notes from cl to d4 with the added low b

in some cases (see figure 35).


b cl d4

Figure 35
Extended flute ranges

Literature in the twentieth century now has extended the

range upwards to include the pitches through g4. These

notes are shrill, loud, and sometimes unattainable for all

flutists as they are difficult to achieve. They are

problematic not only because of the embouchure and air

pressure control needed but also because of the unweildy

fingering positions. Figure 36 supplies the fingerings

used to obtain d#4 through g4.

o qo

o 0


e 0o0

0, o & 00



A s


o o o 0lO,1
o *o 00 0o0g

o ^ o **o t


0*, eb~


0 0

9o o,0Cs

o0e D


ai*1 0 0g
*% .- 0, IoQ



0 o o 000

o open key

closed key

0 half holed (rim only)

Sbb thumb key

Sbi thumb key

Figure 36
Extended upper register fingerings

The addition of the low b key helped to extend the

lower limits of the flute's range. It was used as early

as 1821/22 in the chamber music of Friedrich Kuhlau. In

his Duos fur Zwei Floten opus 39, the first duo in e minor

contains a low b in the first movement in the second flute

part. In orchestral music, the low b appeared. as early as

1843, in the "Intermezzo" of Mendelssohn's Midsummer

Night's Dream. Composers began employing this lower

register addition with increasing frequency and going even

further by writing low bb as seen in Mahler's Fourth

Symphony (second movement) and Ravel's orchestration of

Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Actually, this

low bb can be achieved several ways. Some manufacturers

produce a low & foot joint to be used in these specific


cases, though it has not become a popular or necessary

accessory. The easiest method by far is to borrow the

concept of scordatura tuning from the strings. By pulling

the head joint of the flute out one inch, all of the notes

sound a half step lower. Thus by fingering low b, low b

will sound. Of course, all of the other notes will also

have to be transposed by the performer until the head

joint can be returned to its proper tuning position.

There are available three other methods of extending

the range of the flute downwards. The first method

actually involves only one note. By stopping the end of

the flute with a cork (or even by using one's knee) and

,playing the lowest note, one can achieve a stopped-pipe

subtone sounding an octave lower. According to acoustical

theory, the fundamental (or in this case the lowest note)

of a closed pipe is an octave below that of an open pipe

of the same length. In essence, the air column inside the

flute stopped is double that of the open ended flute.

Because it is a subtone, it is exceedingly soft


The remaining two methods extend the range downwards an

octave but involve tone production that is not

traditional in nature and by rights does not belong in

this subheading. They are buzzing and key slaps and will

be discussed in greater detail under the subheading of

Special Effects.



The sixth category of monophonic sonorities involves

the concept of sliding between pitches. This act is often

erroneously referred to as glissando. Strictly speaking,

glissandos are rapidly executed scale passages such as

performed by drawing the thumb quickly across the keys of

the piano. Sliding between pitches with all the

intermediate tones being allowed to sound is known as

portamento, not glissando, even though it is commonly

referred to as such. This sliding effect, easily done by

the violin or trombone, can be utilized by the flute in

several ways.

On closed hole or plateau system flutes, sliding

between pitches can be effected only by bending pitches or

lip slides, the most easily achieved by going flat in

pitch. The only other available slide is the actual

glissando or "key rip" for closed hole flutes. The open

tone holes of the French model flute afford a greater

variety in method of obtaining slides. By allowing the

fingers to glide off the tone holes and then slowly

releasing the key rims, unbroken "slides" in pitch can be

obtained for the notes dl to bbl and d2 to b 2 (see figure



Figure 37
Key slides

Since there are no open holes present for the notes bbl

through c#2, slides incorporating these pitches are

unattainable. By using second and third partial, it is

possible to slide from b 2 to f3 thus extending the range

of possible pitch slides.

The most effective slide to be found on the flute

involves using the head joint only. By removing the

bottom two sections of the instrument (the key mechanism

segments) the resultant pitch afforded by the head joint

alone approximately is a2; approximately, because the

pitch can be bent a quarter step sharp or a half step flat.

Also, various head joints are slightly different in length

affording different basic pitches.

There are three basic methods of obtaining slides on

the head joint alone. The easiest method is by inserting

a finger or similar shaped object into the head joint.

The inserted object alters the air column length within

the tube and effectively changes the pitch. When the

object is first inserted into the head joint, the pitch

descends from a2 to approximately d#2 (see figure 38-A),


some head joints and performers being capable of lower

pitches due to various head joint lengths and pitch


A B1 B2

Figure 38
Head joint portamentos

As the shape of the inserted object can vary greatly,

the performer needs to experiment and decide what produces

the most effective slides and the relative amount of

insertion necessary to produce the needed pitches. An

interesting phenomenon occurs if the blocking object is

large enough to close but not seal the tube as it is

inserted (such as a wooden stand devised to hold a flute).

The pitch of the slide will first begin to descend until

it reaches about d#2 (at 5.1 cm insertion see figure

38-B1). Upon further insertion, the pitch will reverse

its direction and begin to ascend. At approximately 9.7

cm of insertion the original pitch (a2) will sound.

Continuation of this process will result in a pitch that

5 The author consistently achieved a tritone not
trying to adjust the embouchure at all by bending or any
other means, but by maintaining the same embouchure and
air pressure.


is either d3 or e3 at 12.7 cm (see figure 38-B2) varying

in accordance with the exact length of the head joint

(they vary from about 17.0 cm to 16.6 cm). Variations or

differences of these pitches can be obtained through

practiced lip bends or by forcing the next set of partial

to sound. The second set of partial would produce the

following pitches (see figure 39).

8va - - -

Figure 39
Second partial portamentos with the head joint

Acoustically, the tube appears to be operating in both

modes simultaneously. The sounding pitch of the open pipe

head joint is a2 and the sounding pitch of the closed pipe

head joint is al, an octave apart. The pitch that is half

way between the two notes is d#2. Intuitively, if both

modes were operating at the same time, the optimum point,

at which the open mode relinquishes control, would be at a

point half way between the two, which pitch-wise is the

note d#2.

Mathematically, the way to obtain a tritone is by

consulting the harmonic series (figure 6) and finding the

ratio of the numbers of the first occurring tritone.

These are #5 (el) and #7 (b'l). The result of dividing 7


by 5 is 1.4. Returning to the head joint which is 17.0 cm

in length and subtracting 5.1 cm (the point at which d#2

occurred) the result is 1.428, which is the ratio of a

tritone. Mathematically the results match the intuitive

view of the two-mode (open and closed-) explanation of

the phenomenon that occurs when the head joint slide

produced by insertion is used.

The two remaining methods of executing slides on the

head joint are similar in that they both employ the use of

the hand to achieve the desired effect. By slowly closing

the end of the head joint with the flat palm of the hand,

a slide can be achieved. This slide involves the notes a2

downward to d#2 (see figure 40-A). At this point

approximately the pitch will jump down to al, acting as a

closed pipe. The tone tends to fade as the head joint

approaches closure with the hand, until the final jump

downward. By overblowing to the next set of partial,

another slide incorporating the notes a 3 to

(approximately) e3 (see figure 40-B) can be attained.

When fully closed, this set of overtones will produce d#3,

with this ending jump from open to closed being only about

a half step in pitch. A final slide involving the notes

e4 to c#4 (see figure 40-C) is possible theoretically.

Practically, it is easy to play the closed c#4 but

difficult to maintain a sound when the palm of the hand is

removed (opened). The tone tends to diminish rapidly

making this slide impractical for many flutists.

_______ _^_I__~__~____ _~_~___~__~_~_ ____~

open closed open closed open closed


Figure 40
Optional pitches for portamentos
with head joint and hand

The third slide using the head joint alone is achieved

by enclosing the open end of the pipe with the fist. By

placing the end of the head joint in the crook of the hand

formed between the thumb and the first finger, the player

can control the slide by closing and opening his hand.

The notes afforded by this slide are a2 to al (lower if

lipped down see figure 41-A). The second set of

partial achieve the notes ad3 to approximately d#3 (see

figure 41-B).


open closed open closed


Figure 41
Portamentos with head joint and fist

Both of the slides involving the head joint alone and

the hand use the same acoustical principle to achieve the

protamento effect. The use of the hand at the open end of

the pipe causes the air column within the tube to lengthen

as the pipe is closed. This causes the pitch to lower

until complete closure is achieved. It should be

emphasized that all of the pitches attained by slides are

subject to individual distortions, lip bending, and the

peculiarities of the individual instruments used.

Special Effects

The second subheading under contemporary practices is

that of special effects. This area includes the

categories that use unusual or special directions in

addition to or substitution of traditional monophonic

sounds. There are three categories in this area.


Tonguing practices

The use of the tongue to articulate pitches in wind

playing is nothing new. In fact, single, double, and

triple tonguing are as old as the instrument itself and

are the expected methods for executing the beginnings of

tones even today. In contemporary literature, these older

methods are still used in addition to many other devices.

Composers are now calling for a more varied approach to

initiating sounds on the flute. By changing the attack

concept to harsh, windy, or weak, the initial timbre of

the note can be altered. Some of the articulations that

are being used as substitutes for the more normal t or k

are ht, puh, tuh, hiss (ssss), or the tongueless beginning.

There are no specific notational devices for these varied

articulations, but some type of explanation would be in



One of the most common twentieth century articulation

devices is that of fluttertonguing. It was first

introduced by Richard Strauss in the "Windmill" variation


of Don Quixote (1897). Fluttertonguing (flatterzunge) is

best described as "a rolling movement of the tongue, as if

producing d-r-r-r."6 It is similar to a string

tremolo and is considered to be the wind equivalent.

Fluttertonguing does not intensify the tone, it merely

changes its sound.

There are two ways to fluttertongue. The first uses

the Spanish r. It is best described as a rolling motion

of the tip of the tongue against the hard pallate directly

behind the front teeth (upper incisors). Some refer to it

as the dental r. This fluttertongue is best in loud

circumstances or with middle to upper register notes.

There are two parameters to this method of fluttertonguing.

By changing the breath pressure one can alter the speed of

the flutter. Secondly, by positioning the tongue in

different locations in the mouth, the intensity of the

flutter can be changed independent of the breath pressure.

It is the more commonly used of the methods of

fluttertonguing. The second method of fluttertonguing is

the French r which uses the vibration of the uvula against

the back of the throat, similar to gargling. There is not

as much flexibility in this method and there arises at

times a problem in initiating the flutter. Also, some

players are unable to achieve this throat action. It is

suggested that a tongue tremlolo be substituted if the

6 Willi Apel, "Tonguing," in Harvard Dictionary_of
Music (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University
Press, 1977), p. 857.


player is unable to achieve a French r flutter in the low
register. Because it is a softer flutter, it is most
easily used in the lower register and with softer dynamics.
To achieve a raspy sound, it is possible to combine both
styles of fluttertonguing at once. Fluttertonguing can
also be used in conjunction with monophonic and multiple
sonorities (with some difficulties), singing and playing
or other such vocal sounds, harmonics, and in alternation
with double and triple tonguing.
The notation of fluttertonguing varies somewhat, but
most commonly is illustrated as follows (see figure 42).

frull~v f fl rrr- fl---

r 0 .,

Figure 42
Fluttertonguing notation

New articulation indicators

In contemporary literature, composers are now
requesting a more varied means of beginning tones. In
addition to the accepted agogic and tonic accents, a wide
variety of dynamic accents are appearing. By combining
the accent indicator ( > ) with different instructional
symbols, a variety of accents have become an integral part
of twentieth century literature. These newer accents are

combinations of contemporary devices and the common accent.

There are six new combinations. The harmonic accent ( > )

which sounds the fundamental and several harmonics at the

same time, the flutter accent ( fl ) which uses a short

burst of fluttertonguing to initiate the sound, and the

breath accent ( br ) which uses the breath alone to

initiate the tone. These three accents involve techniques

that have been previously discussed. The remaining three

accents incorporate techniques which will be discussed

later in this chapter. They are the key accent ( ),

achieved by using key clicks in conjunction with the

tongue, the blowing accent ( bl ), which is a toneless

whistle (similar to what many flutists use to warm the

instrument before playing), and the singing accent (sing),

which uses the vocal chords to help initiate the accented

note. These newer accents display a tendency that is

prevalent in contemporary music, that of combining the

traditional with totally new devices.

Key clicks

Another type of articulation involves the phenomenon

caused by the clicking of the keys on the flute. For many

years flutists have employed the snapping shut of the left

hand g key to aid in production of lower register notes.

This method of helping the notes to speak faster is

effective because the snap creates "an acoustical impluse

that aides] in setting the large air column . in

vibration."7 Contemporary use of this technique has

expanded to include other facets of acoustical theory.

Key snaps or clicks (as they are sometimes called)

produced on the flute yield pitches that are the same as

the fingering used. Actually, two pitches are achieved.

These pitches are the lowest pitch that would be sounded

and the first overtone, which would be an octave higher

because of the open pipe theory upon which a flute is

based. The lower of the two pitches is the dominant pitch

and will be heard. The lower register affords a much

better response to this technique than does the upper

octaves as they tend to be extremely soft dynamically.

There are two kinds of key slaps when the flute is an

open pipe. The first is referred to as a blown key slap

or a slap with air. It involves clicking the key when the

note is initiated be it held or staccato. It results in

a popping sound on the pitch fingered. The notation most

often encountered involves placing a cross (+) above the

note or a diagonal slash through the note head (see figure

43-A). The second open pipe slap involves only the

snapping of keys with no air being blown. The pitches

will sound as the note fingered. This works best and

almost exclusively in the lower register (there are a few

7 Thomas Howell, The Avant-Garde Flute: A Handbook
for Composers and Flutists (Los Angeles: University of
California Press, 1974), p. 21.

exceptions). The notation, though not

usually involves replacing the note head

pitch with an x or a + (see figure43-B)

open pipe snaps without air is from b to


+ + +
or or or or or




of the desired

The range of

c2 (see figure


Figure 43
Key slaps

By closing the embouchure hole with the tongue or chin,

the flute becomes a stopped pipe. The pitches then

afforded by slapping keys are quite different from those

attained on an open pipe. Rather than sounding the same

pitches when slapped, tones a major seventh (M7) down from

the fingered note are produced. The exception is the

lowest note attainable on the flute (either b or cl,

depending on the individual instrument). With the

embouchure hole closed, the slap achieved on the flute's

lowest fingered note sounds an octave below the fingered

pitch, rather than a major seventh down (see figure 44).

(+) (+) (+) embouchure hole
( fingering

:. n a *- sounding

Figure 44
Closed embouchure hole key slaps
resulting sounds

There is no standardized way to notate a closed

embouchure hole key click, but several methods are being

employed in the literature. The most common sign is the

cross, +, of the open pipe notation placed in parenthesis

(+) Many times the composer will go one step further and

indicate the fingered pitch and the sounding pitch for

greater clarity (see figure 45).

(+) (+)


- fingered
- sounding

Figure 45
Closed embouchure hole key slap

Obviously, since the embouchure hole is sealed, these

slaps are first of all produced without the breath and

secondly, very short. Strangely enough, these key slaps

project relatively well, but only in the low register. In

general, the dynamics in both types of key slaps (stopped

or open) depend on the force of the slap itself. Due to

their nature, series of rapidly executed key slaps are

usually unplayable because of the awkwardness of the

fingerings. Also, the notes bl, c2, and c#2 do not yield

good key clicks, blown or slapped, most likely due to the

fact that their fingerings involve very little of the tube

of the flute with no keys to snap.

Percussive tongue articulation

The last device under articulation concerns the

percussive effects of the tongue itself. In addition to

the previously mentioned accents, the sounds that can be

created with the tongue can also be used in initiating

pitches. Most of these have already been discussed, such

as fluttertonguing, tremolo tonguing (used in place of

fluttertonguing in the low register for those unable to

roll the uvula sometimes referred to as "doodle"

tonguing), and hissing sounds done in conjunction with the

pitch. One of the last to be explored is that of tongue

clicks. These are the sounds created by sharply snapping

the tongue from the top of the mouth down into the soft

under part of the lower jaw, producing a "tok" percussive

sound. These clicks can be done in two ways, either with

the embouchure hole open or by closing off the 'embouchure

hole between the lips. The first method produces very

soft pitches, almost inaudible if not being used on an

electronically amplified flute. The second method yields

far better tongue clicks, in that they are more resonant.

By enclosing the embouchure hole with the lips, the tube

of the flute helps to magnify the sound being produced.

The range of the clicks varies drastically due mostly to

the different shapes of performer's mouth cavities when

they produce the click. Specifically, each fingered note

__~_~__~_~__ ~_~________~__II____1___1__1__~___


yields an approximate range from a major third (M3) to an

octave below the fingering, again depending mostly upon

the performer. Notation for tongue clicks is not

standardized. Often, tongue clicks are used in

combination with key slaps to aid in resonance, and

projection. Tongue clicks seem to be a rather unused

device so a common notation has yet to survive various

mutations. Figure 46 shows one method of notating tongue


k tongue click kt tongue click and key
r> slap

(k) tongue click (kt) tongue click into
Into embouchure embouchure hole with
hole key slap

Figure 46
Tongue click notation

Another unusual type of articulation using the tongue

is called a tongue stop or tongue ram. This technique is

accomplished by enclosing the embouchure plate with the

lips and stopping the embouchure hole quickly with the

tongue. This device yields the same resonance sound as

does the key slaps with the embouchure hole stopped. The

differences between the two are that the key mechanism

noise is eliminated in tongue rams and the latter are

noticeably louder than slaps. Dynamics are controlled by


the amount of breath that is forcefully exhaled. Notation

for tongue rams usually will include an explanatory note

but are commonly seen as follows (see figure 47).

(T) A
r\ or


Figure 47
Tongue ram notation

As seen in figure 47-B, the pitches that occur sound a

major seventh (M7) below the fingered note..

Noise Elements

The second category under special effects is noise

elements. As the name suggests, traditional performance

techniques are replaced by various devices that elicit

unusual sounds from the instrument. One such large area

of noise elements involves those devices that can best be

described as colored noise. These techniques use air

being blown across or through the instrument without

necessarily involving normal tone production.

Open embouchure noise elements

The term colored noise engulfs a diverse array of

sounds that can be divided into two areas of concentration.

The first area involves those sounds which are produced on

the flute when the embouchure hole is open (normal playing

position). By using the traditional playing position

without producing a tone, the fingered notes will create

discernable pitches even though they are by nature rather

soft. If blown intensely, overtones will result. A low,

rasping sound can be obtained by strongly blowing with the

aperture of the lips placed very close to the embouchure

hole. Other than changing the fingering, the only

remaining method of altering the timbre of these notes is

through the use of fricative and sibilant consonants

(vowels have little if any effect). Another use involving

the open embouchure hole position is to incorporate

trills, tremolos, and even fluttertonguing to alter the

character of these toneless (by traditional standards)

sounds. In addition, it is possible to whistle through

the teeth across the open embouchure hole producing some

interesting sounds.

Closed embouchure noise elements

The second area of colored noise involves the use of

the flute when the embouchure hole is closed. Well known

in this area is the jet whistle effect which is produced

by covering the embouchure hole with the lips so that no

air escapes. By blowing into the flute in this manner, a

"swoosh" sound is created. This sound was used by Hector

Villa-Lobos in The Jet Whistle in 1953, and has since

become a popular device. Flute players have used this

technique for many years as a quick way to 'warm-up' the

instrument. The jet whistle sound can use any of the

articulation methods, from'fluttertonguing to tongue

stops, and its dynamics are very versatile. The timbre,

pitch, and volume of the jet whistle are governed by four

parameters. The first parameter influences the pitch and

timbre of the jet whistle. It is involved with the angle

at which the air is directed into the embouchure hole.

Higher partial are the predominant sound if the air

stream is blown into the embouchure hole (as when

producing low tones) the sound of the jet whistle will be

accordingly lower (approximately one octave lower),

because the lower partial are stronger (see figure 48).

Figure 48
Air stream direction into
embouchure hole

The second parameter of control for jet whistles

influences timbre and pitch. Unlike the open embouchure

hole noise elements, the vowel sounds are audible in jet

whistles because of its closed embouchure sound production

mechanism. Through the use of vowel sounds, the shape of

the mouth cavity can be altered. This alteration affects

the tonal quality of the sound, causing it to fluctuate

approximately as much as an octave. By changing from the

vowel [i] to [u], the mouth cavity will increase in size

causing the pitch to drop accordingly. This difference in

pitch is controlled by the performer and will vary from

player to player.

The third parameter is concerned with volume control

and to a degree also pitch and timbre. In the jet

whistle, volume is controlled by the breath pressure and

can range from loud shrieks to soft sounds that are very

similar to residual tones (see Multiple Sonorities). High

pressure (forceful blowing) will result in high volume


levels. Similarly, forceful breath pressure will

strengthen the upper partial of the sound causing the

pitch to rise and the timbre to change. Unfortunately,

loud jet whistles can only be sustained for a second or

two before the player is out of air.

The first three parameters are very interdependent upon

one another, each influencing the effect of the other two.

The fourth parameter primarily is the range determinator

of the other parameters. It involves which notes are

fingered when the jet whistle is blown. Essentially, it

follows the chromatic fingerings in that higher notes

result in higher sounding jet whistles. In this respect,

it also affects timbre in that by using third and fourth

octave fingerings, the higher partial are emphasized

resulting in more intense sounds.

Although not standardized in its notation, the jet

whistle's various determinants should be taken into

consideration by composers when they require its use. In

his book The Other Flute: A Performance Manual of

Contemporary Techniques, Robert Dick proposes a notational

system for the jet whistle which, although it is imposing

upon first glance, does incorporate all of the various

parameters of the sound produced (see figure 49).

_ _~


angle of flute

fingering (in)

[i] [u] vowel

pp ff dynamics

Figure 49
Jet whistle notation8

There are two remaining techniques in the closed

embouchure hole colored noise area. The first is similar

to the jet whistle except that the player must inhale

rather than exhale. The sound is quite diminished in

volume and is often times used to extend a phrase that

would otherwise by necessity be broken. Vowels are very

effective on the inhaled jet whistle, but as suspected,

consonants are unusable.

The second area involves whistling into the closed

embouchure hole. This can be done by either whistling

through the lips while covering the hole or by whistling

through the teeth into the closed hole. Some

8 Robert Dick, The Other Flute: A Performance Manual
of Contemporary Techniques (London: Oxford University
Press, 1975), p. 135.

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