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n00b Questions    05:36 on Thursday, February 16, 2006 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Moik
(10 points)

I`m converting from years of Saxophone playing to flute. I have got over the passing out while playing stage and after playing off and on for a while I decided to start practising properly now. I recently bought a Trevor James flute (after it cost as much to repair my old one).

I have many questions and I would be grateful for guidance on any of them (apoplogies in advance for what is probably going to be a long post).

- I occasionally get a slight buzzing noise when I cover most of the holes. I took the foot joint off and I still got it. I also checked for any loose screws but couldn`t find anything. When I took it back to the shop neither of us could reproduce the problem so I continue to experiment to see if we can work out why (its not room accoustics and I think its to do with my playing).

- My tone has improved no end over the last few weeks since I started puckering more and directing the air better, but it still sounds breathy to me. Does this ever go away or is it just a case of reducing it so that no-one else can hear it.

- My Volume on low range is really poor especially if I tongue or accent in any way (completely the opposite to getting low notes out of a sax). Is there any way to increase the volume and can you accent low notes or do you just have to be gentle (it always slipts and jumps the octave when I try).

- I really like Jethro Tull and I understand that he plays a whole bunch of whistles and flutes (some of them wooden), but I am working on bending notes. I find the low octave fairly easy to bend, the middle range didn`t seem so hot on some notes and bending the upper register was just crazy talk. Is this about right or is just more practise? I bend by rolling the flute to change the breath angle, though on certain notes a better effect can be produced by slurring up from the semi-tone below whilst rolling.

- Growling. I think I`ve got this, but just to confirm on sax you just growl, but on flute I found it better if you sing whilst blowing rather than a back of the throat growl. Then I found it works even better if you sing the same notes (i.e in tune with the current note you are playing).

- I was playing some classical piece or study tune and it said `sub`. I know how to do sub-tone on a sax, but hadn`t got the first clue that it was even possible on a flute... or is it something different. Is it just going more breathy and splitting the tone? That doesn`t suggest sub to me.

- Since I started puckering up more and improving my tone, my tonguing seems to be more `spitty`. I used to just `thunk` my tongue against the back of my teeth (which never seemed very clean, especially on triple tonguing - not sure I triple tongue correctly anyway). Now my tongue seems to come forward from there after playing for a while, hence more spitty.

- I read about breath angle somewhere on the web for different notes. It said roll in and blow more into the flute for low range, across the hole for mid range and then slightly away from the hole for upper reg. Is this right, because it seems exactly the opposite for me.

Thanks again or anyone with the patience to get through any of this post.

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Re: n00b Questions    06:49 on Thursday, February 16, 2006 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Bilbo
(1327 points)

"- I occasionally get a slight buzzing noise when I cover most of the holes."

Sometimes the metal plate holding cork stopper can hav a sympathetic vibration (Buzz) when you play certain notes. The room can have things that vibrate. Change rooms. It may be hard to isolate. At least you know it`s not in the foot joint. It could be a slightly loose screw in the mechanism. This indicates that you may need a repair person when you locate the buzz. Although I`m not a repairperson, I would tap lightly on the flute parts with my finger until I isolate the buzz. Not so heavy that you can bend or break something.

"- My tone has improved no end over the last few weeks since I started puckering more and directing the air better, but it still sounds breathy to me. Does this ever go away or is it just a case of reducing it so that no-one else can hear it."

You may always hear air. You can work on tone to improve you air use. I would suggest playing octave lip slurs. Or Octaves and fifths. F1/C2/F2/C3/F3 and back down. Transpose to other notes. Keep in mind that the more focused the air stream, the more focused the tone and the less air you waste. Experiment with the height and width of the air column.

"Is there any way to increase the volume and can you accent low notes or do you just have to be gentle (it always slipts and jumps the octave when I try)."

Low note take different muscles than high ones. If the flute is working properly, you can practice tog et stronget low notes by working down to them in scales and arpeggios, trying to keep them strong.

"Is this about right or is just more practise? I bend by rolling the flute to change the breath angle, though on certain notes a better effect can be produced by slurring up from the semi-tone below whilst rolling."

Ian Andersen was basically self-trained. If this is the case, anyway possible works. He uses a variety of techniques, He sings into the flute, uses flutter tonguing and has probably developed multi-phonics (Where certain fingerings and embouchure can produce more than one note.) In singing he also may be singing different pitches than he is playing. Flutter tonguing is like rolling the "Rs". This is more difficult on lower notes. If you can`t do the rolling R, then growling is a substitute. He also uses Harmonics fairly often because he didn`t use a fingering chart at first to learn to play.

Not sure what "Sub" is used for on the flute. What study?

Remember that when you change breath angle for different areas of the range, you may be changing the tuning. projected volume and tone quality on the notes. I try to not cahnge breath angle much.

~Bilbo

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Re: n00b Questions    15:57 on Thursday, February 16, 2006 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Moik
(10 points)

Thanks for the reply. Some good stuff there.

The buzzing is almost certainly sympathetic resonance in the instrument. I`ve played in many different rooms (sometimes I just wander around the house - always a problem when I get to doorways). I`m going to give it another week to experiment and then maybe go back to the shop again. I didn`t really hear it much tonight.

I found that sub reference, it was in a cheap and nasty study book by Alan Bullard called Fifty for Flute book 1. Its No.11 and its a very staccato piece made up of 4 phrases that start pp and then on the last bar they go f sub. with accents on every note. I got a kind of sub. tone today by just breathing rather than blowing (if you know what I mean), but there didn`t seem to be any way to accent the notes that way.

I had a go at getting stronger lower notes today by doing the breathing (rather than blowing) thing and it seemed to work better, but I`m back to the mild dizziness again when I stop because I`m losing too much air by relaxing my mouth. I`m using a forte bit from Brahm`s Hungarian Dance No.1 that goes from top E and works its way down to low D#. It was in one of my Tenor Sax books so I don`t know what it was originally written for as there isn`t really any classical sax music; so it might well be flute music.

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Re: n00b Questions    19:08 on Thursday, February 16, 2006 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

DottedEighthNote
(180 points)

Hmm, I don`t know that these are all n00b questions XD.

As far as the buzzing goes, it could very well be an acoustic issue, or a mechanical issue. I know a lot of times you can make a harmonic while playing with someone else, and it will make a buzzing sound. So it could be the room you are in is causing the issue. I have also noticed that a lot of times on my own if I was actually relaxed and not using the "oh my god this song is hard" deathgrip on my flute I would get a buzz while playing. It might just be a good resonation on the flute.

As far as bending the pitch goes, generally that is done by rolling the flute in and out slightly to correct tuning issues, or drastically to make the bend in pitch.

The low octave is my favorite, and I have worked a very long time to get a good solid tone in the low register. I followed the Trevor Wye book on tone for this. Start on B natural until you are sure you have the most excellent tone you can play on that note. Then over time you slowly start working your way down the scale. From the students I have had, I noticed a trend too, where they were actually tightening their embouchure while trying to play lower instead of being really relaxed. I also personally think it takes a lot more air to play solidly in the lower register. My personal advice would be to pick the note you are sure you sound best on and work down from there.

Hope that helps a bit!

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Re: n00b Questions    01:36 on Friday, February 17, 2006 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Account Closed
(3248 points)

More often the not, buzzing on a flute usually means that a pad is leaking ever so slightly.

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Re: n00b Questions    04:23 on Friday, February 17, 2006 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Moik
(10 points)

"As far as bending the pitch goes, generally that is done by rolling the flute in and out slightly to correct tuning issues, or drastically to make the bend in pitch."

I`m just finding that some notes don`t bend as well as others and some don`t bend at all. Most notably the mid range when the right hand is used.

I`m going to try rolling with relaxed embochoure and then tighten as its rolled back in tune to see if that gets more consistent results. (Its so much easier on an open hole flute I tried once)

   

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