High notes and...

Basics of Flute Playing, Tone Production and Fingerings, Using Metronomes, Scales, Tone, Studies, etc.

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muzikislif3
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Post by muzikislif3 » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:10 pm

hey, this is a very common problem with flautists so no worries :) It took me til the end of my junior year in high school to master controlling my volume and i have been playing since 6th grade, so don't fret it :) its very common. Just try to practice those difficult notes starting at about fff and eventually getting softer and softer by controlling your airstream. that helped me an awful lot.

Hope this helped,
Michele

wkzh
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Post by wkzh » Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:36 am

You must realise that the difficulty in getting high notes soft is because the instrument is utterly flawed at that range, i.e. they have very weak resonances. To even make a sound, you must match exactly to that resonance, otherwise the instrument won't sound, i.e. very precise embouchure, angle of air stream, etc.

So you've three options: build a flute that's more acoustically viable in the high register; find alternate fingeings that have stronger resonances (but may not be viable due to complications in finger work); or you can practice your high notes well and get that exact air going into your instrument to make the exact sound you want.

So find the exact way of directing that air: you would need a strong enough embouchure to do this, don't expect instant results. All that moving of mandibles, etc etc etc, is to achieve this. You would need to enhance the resonance, what Robert Dick calls "throat tuning" although there are other ways that should be used in conjunction with that like alternate fingerings or altering the mouth cavity and tongue position. And lastly, you will need to practice over and over again to be able to replicate these conditions flawlessly.

There may be other variables, but I guess they would not be too much an issue if you get the main things right.
The flute family: probing the lower limit of human hearing and the upper limit of human tolerance.

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Bo
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Re: High notes and...

Post by Bo » Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:10 pm

I think I have improved since I first posted. At least I would say I can play high notes p, if not really ppp. I will keep practicing of course.
These things don't always come naturally, some practice is necessary. There are things I could not do in the beginning with the open-hole flute, like playing the low C, but now I can and I cannot even explain how I got there, it just happened with time...
Thanks again to everyone for all the helpful tips!

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MissyHPhoenix
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Re: High notes and...

Post by MissyHPhoenix » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:46 am

Bo, I don't think I know anyone who had the high octave notes come naturally in any dynamic. And, like you, when I first started playing again I could NOT get low C no matter what I did! All of a sudden it was just there. Contrary to many opinions, the flute is not the easiest instrument to master by any means, but (altho I know I am prejudiced) I think it is the most satisfying!

:mrgreen:

Such a cool smiley!

:lol: :lol:
Missy

Why Be Normal????

wkzh
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Re: High notes and...

Post by wkzh » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:48 am

Missy, I think the problem is our intuition. In our heads, high = fast = blow into the hole = squeeze = ... you know. The embouchure or high notes are just so counter-intuitive that it's hard for a beginner to learn it fast. Apart from that, embouchure strength must be trained.

So Bo... just take your time, slowly build up your musclature and flexibility.
The flute family: probing the lower limit of human hearing and the upper limit of human tolerance.

wkzh
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Re: High notes and...

Post by wkzh » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:48 am

Missy, I think the problem is our intuition. In our heads, high = fast = blow into the hole = squeeze = ... you know. The embouchure or high notes are just so counter-intuitive that it's hard for a beginner to learn it fast. Apart from that, embouchure strength must be trained.

So Bo... just take your time, slowly build up your musclature and flexibility.
The flute family: probing the lower limit of human hearing and the upper limit of human tolerance.

Arlee
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Re: High notes and...

Post by Arlee » Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:10 am

MissyHPhoenix wrote:Bo, I don't think I know anyone who had the high octave notes come naturally in any dynamic. And, like you, when I first started playing again I could NOT get low C no matter what I did! All of a sudden it was just there. Contrary to many opinions, the flute is not the easiest instrument to master by any means, but (altho I know I am prejudiced) I think it is the most satisfying!
I was actually a giant weirdo and my high notes were naturally softer than my lower notes and I had to work on developing my forte more. I am not sure why it was like that for me. I just remember in band a lot of my fellow flute section members were very shrill on high notes and I was afraid of sounding like that. So maybe it was a mental thing. I did have problems with the high E natural though, but that deffinitly was because I had always heard about how awful of a note it was and I was afraid of it :(

And omg who thinks the flute is easy to master?? :lol:

Random weirdish question... has anyone else noticed it being particularly easy to hold the D above the staff longer than other notes? If you have, any idea why this might be?
Last edited by Arlee on Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

wkzh
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Re: High notes and...

Post by wkzh » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:13 am

Arlee wrote:Random weirdish question... has anyone else noticed it being particularly easy to hold the D above the staff longer than other notes? If you have, any idea why this might be?
If you can hold it considerably much much muchhh longer... I think your embouchure may need a bit of reworking. It IS technically easier to play the note because it is "acoustically superior" although still a tad flat due to imperfections in the design, but provided you have a well adjusted embouchure the lower two-thirds of the third octave should be relatively similar in terms of how long you can hold.
The flute family: probing the lower limit of human hearing and the upper limit of human tolerance.

Arlee
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Re: High notes and...

Post by Arlee » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:33 am

Hmm, I'll have to do some quanitative testing then. I just remember when I was learning the mozart concerto in D and when I got to that first long D, even at the really slow tempo I could easily hold it out. Which was confusing for me because I have asthema so it's not like it is normal for me to be able to play for a long while without a breath.

wkzh
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Re: High notes and...

Post by wkzh » Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:00 am

I'm an asthmatic too, actually. How long you can play a note depends on your lung size. Apparently playing long tones does NOT extend your maximum breath length, I'm postulating that all it does is increase your efficiency so you can hold notes longer. (Don't talk about divers, they don't actually sustain notes by blowing air out.) Was your high D your least airy note then? My breath at f only lasts an average of 12 seconds, quite short. To cope with this.. I learnt circular breathing... It's usable for, again, the lower two-thirds of the high notes, but do practice your long tones anyway because even if you have such a technique a super precise embouchure is required.
The flute family: probing the lower limit of human hearing and the upper limit of human tolerance.

Arlee
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Re: High notes and...

Post by Arlee » Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:51 am

Yes D has always been a rock solid note for me not the least bit airy or weak. I have to admit I do not do long tones as often as I probably should because it's a frustrating exercise as I always feel like I can never hold notes as long as I would like and I don't really notice any progress. I also have noticed I have a hard time with notes at the lowend and the high end in terms of sustaining notes.

The only thing that I have found which has actually increased my lung capacity is running/biking which is probably due to the areobic aspect of it (though I personally hate to run).

Circular breathing has always been something of a holy grail for me. I have been trying to learn it for while with no real luck. I would think it would come in handy with pieces that have very few good breathing spots. I can never seem to quite get it down though.

*Edit-I also forgot to mention that I also find if I have done my daily yoga before practicing makes a huge difference as well. Though I think this is only because I do a lot of poses that really stretch out the ribcage/lunges/back.

ichliebe
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Re: High notes and...

Post by ichliebe » Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:27 pm

I'm asthmatic in it.

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Bo
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Re: High notes and...

Post by Bo » Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:51 pm

My asthma is worse when I don't play... Maybe because I don't pay attention how I breathe...

Those soft high notes are getting better and better by the way... :P Not 100% right, but maybe 80% and I intend to still improve them of course...

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