Sequence 23

with Paul Edmund-Davies

This is a gentle sonority and breathing exercise, where we can also work on shape and phrasing!

We all love to play fast on the flute, but this doesn’t mean anything unless we can also ‘say’ something whilst we are flashing our fingers around. It seems to me that the faster musical material is being played, the more likely it is that any shape or ‘meaning’ to the music gradually, but invariably decreases. The final result is a ‘blur’ of notes with no meaning. The only satisfaction is for the performer, who can say, ‘I played all the right notes and in the correct order’. For the audience, it can be a soulless experience.

I know, a bit harsh, but quite often, it is the truth!

A slow melody is the perfect way to explore shape in music and is an opportunity for us to work on connecting music with our own emotions. Whilst music is a universal language, a slow movement of let’s say a Beethoven symphony, might have very different emotional sensations from person to person. However, it will always be important for that movement to contain phrasing and shape, for those listening to be moved.

A slow melody is also an excellent way to work on breathing. The flute is a very demanding instrument when it comes to the subject of air and we should never underestimate just how much energy a player is required to commit to, to achieve quality of sound, evenness across the three octaves and ultimately, dynamic expression.

A flute will provide us with notes, quite amicably, but we need to give life to a sound to best communicate to those who are listening to us.