Octave Trilling

Advanced Technique, Performance Questions, Auditions, Recording, etc.

Moderators: Classitar, pied_piper, Phineas

Post Reply
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 9:14 am

Octave Trilling

Post by Zam » Wed May 05, 2010 9:21 am


I'm a non flute player but I'm writing a piece for flute and have a question. How difficult is it for a player to trill between a note and the note an octave above & how quickly can it be done? For example, is it possible to trill very quickly from the lowest G to the G above that or between the top two G notes?

Thanks for any help.


Posts: 70
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:51 am

Post by m3the01 » Wed May 05, 2010 1:01 pm

Im actually pretty good at this, however i would say it sounds the greatest musically. I used it for warming up, but i cant do it as fast as i normally trill.


Posts: 2311
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 3:11 pm

Post by fluteguy18 » Wed May 05, 2010 3:23 pm

In terms of a genuine tremolo, it is not possible.

Posts: 80
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 6:56 pm
Location: New Mexico

Post by stewyflute13 » Tue May 11, 2010 12:19 am

I don't think this would even be called a trill anymore, it would simply be very quick octave slurring. Octave slurs are easy for any flutist at an intermediate or above level, but to play it at the same speed as a real trill? Yeah, probably not even possible.


User avatar
Posts: 389
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2008 5:40 pm
Location: Down Under

Post by Bo » Fri May 21, 2010 4:36 pm

No, it would not be a trill...

User avatar
Posts: 310
Joined: Wed Jun 07, 2006 5:58 am
Location: Scottish-American in Oklahoma

Post by sidekicker » Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:58 pm

I know this doesn't really answer your question directly, but I think writing something like that for the flute is, for lack of a better term, somewhat stupid. No matter how good one may be able to do it, the effect I think you may be looking for is not going to be very successful. Not all instruments can produce the effect you want; you will always be limited as a composer to what the flute can do successfully. Rather, it's going to sound somewhat sophomoric, in my opinion.

However, I will admit that I am not at all in favor of using the flute for "extended techniques" simply because someone else may not have ever used it, so I am biased to begin with. One does not "trill" between octaves. As someone already alluded to here, that would -- at best -- be a tremolo. And as I've already said, it will probably sound rather dumb; like the flutist is making a mistake. If you are thinking of other ways to use the flute, I would look elsewhere; perhaps using some harmonic fingerings. Anything but key clicks and singing through the flute -- that's been done a zillion times and, in my opinion, not only sounds bad but is hard on the instrument and certainly an effect I would never put my flute through.

Just my opinion, so please at least respect that fact. I know others will differ :-)


Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Sep 29, 2010 2:33 pm

Re: Octave Trilling

Post by etc-etc » Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:30 pm

If you need really fast octave jumps, you could write the arrangement for two flutes, or a flute and a piccolo. First flute plays the top note, second flute the bottom note, in quick succession, and repeat.

Posts: 103
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 3:45 am

Re: Octave Trilling

Post by wkzh » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:18 pm

etc-etc wrote:If you need really fast octave jumps, you could write the arrangement for two flutes, or a flute and a piccolo. First flute plays the top note, second flute the bottom note, in quick succession, and repeat.
I agree. Based on a theory I worked out recently, a true "octave trill," or "octave tremolo" to be more precise, at really high speeds will be extremely similar to two voices alternating, rather than one percieving the interval of the octave as one would describe a "trill."

However, a single player cannot execute a fast octave tremolo because the time taken to set up the standing wave is too long, so don't even dream of it. It's not particularly fun to alternate between being a node and an antinode, if you get what I mean.
The flute family: probing the lower limit of human hearing and the upper limit of human tolerance.

Post Reply