Introduction to Gallay
Jacques-François Gallay (1795-1864) is perhaps considered by many modern French Horn players to have been one of the most significant influences on playing the horn in Europe during the first half of the 19th century. Known mostly for composing numerous books of studies, he also wrote a highly regarded method for the natural horn and two concerti for his instrument.
Originally from Perpignan on the Mediterranean west coast of France, at the late age of 25, he reluctantly ventured north to the Paris Conservatoire in order to study with Louis-François Dauprat. Subsequently, when Dauprat retired, Gallay succeeded him at the Conservatoire, teaching there from 1842 until his death in 1864.
With a woodwind or brass instrument, irrespective of which group it falls within, there are many similarities concerning the issues and challenges faced in the process of learning.
On all instruments in both groups, controlled use of air is required, along with an understanding of what the tongue does and how we operate it to have consummate facility or ease of articulation, to suit the style of the music in front of us. Intervals demand small changes in lip shape and air control and a true legato is a challenge on any instrument.
Equally, what might be considered challenging on one instrument, by comparison might well be easier on another and vice-versa.
It therefore follows that numerous study books will contain material that will be applicable to more instruments than the one that they were initially intended for.
The delightful and effective pieces to be found in Gallay Studies, Opus 13, once transcribed, can be just as relevant to flute players as they are to horn players. By exploring repertoire originally intended for other instruments, our core repertoire is expanded and we are exposed to different styles and approaches. The purpose of any good book of studies surely is to help us on our journey with our respective instrument.
Certainly, when I was a student, I vividly remember the melodically simple yet highly methodical horn studies of Gallay echoing down the corridors of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in London. I hope that this new edition will complement flute methods currently available and that the following studies will help you on your journey with the various challenges presented by the flute and indeed, music.
Studies are usually written in a single key. Such are the great benefits to be found in the Gallay studies, I have opted to put each one through some of the less demanding keys. In this way, players will not only have a greater opportunity to work on the core challenges of each study, but will also have the chance to explore the different characteristics of some of the more familiar keys.
Be it Breathing or Phrasing, Fingerwork, Articulation or Intervals, an indication as to which of the Four Pillars of practice the study in question is aimed at working on and improving, is clearly marked at the top.
Some may feel that I have not been over generous with breath marks in some of the studies. If so, please consider the markings initially only as an ultimate goal (and feel free to breath in more places). Breathing to satisfy the demands of music and the flute, is an art in itself.
The purpose behind not putting too many obvious opportunities in the score to take on air, is that as with so many other areas of our flute playing, skill and discipline is required and in great quantities. It is an intensely demanding physical activity and as such needs to be treated with dedication and respect.
I would urge you though to try only to breath where marked and think of this as ‘breathing gym’. In order to improve we need to extend ourselves.
Over a period of time, as strength inevitably builds up in this department, the distances between breaths should become more natural and comfortable. Ultimately, with better controlled breathing, you should be able to play the flute in a more refined and musically flexible manner.
We constantly need to work on improving our breathing, as in the end, air and the way we breathe on this instrument are high up on the list, in terms of the ability to express our musical intentions.