French SCHOOL! :-()

French SCHOOL! :-()

French SCHOOL! :-()    18:32 on Saturday, November 10, 2007          

(1335 points)
Posted by Bilbo

Well ince the French have been brought into the equation.....

My meagre opinions posted just for reference.
I was under the impression that the French SCHOOL of playing began with Paul Taffanel beginning around 1860 which had a strong influence in converting flutists over to the modified Boehm design of metal flute(including the bore shape, emb. design and resultant tone qualities) from the conical head w/tapered bore body, wood design of pre-Boehm mods.

Some of you know Taffanel from his Study book Taffanel and Gaubert 17 big Dailys....

Of course the next big step in the after Taffanel would have then been Marcel Moyse who introduced a certain level of thouroughness to his series of study books that could be considered a staple of modern flute practice methods for those of us who understand the methods employed. This style of playing invoolved certain characteristics of the flute design, an important factor of which included a relatively small embouchure hole in the head joint which gives the flute a lighter and less forceful tone quality. Their aim was that of suppleness and attractive tone quality. Examples would be Godfroy, Lot, Rive and Bonneville flutes -to name a few. MAny of these original instruments aren't in very good playing condition because of age, mechanism and solder conditions but I have had the pleasure of playing a reconditioned Bonneville a few years ago that was actually a joy to play. IOW; It nknoched my socks off.
Some examples:

It is becoming increasing less common to actually be able to imitate the older French tone and projection because the modern flutes are more refined in their designs toward projectin and power. This has been championed originally by the American school (Kincaid) and the Powell design characteristics that have often been copied and modified upon by other current flute makers. this situation is akin to me as a soloistic type of flute, designed to sound like a great Alto/Soprano opera singer. Made to belt out Concertos in front of a large mob.

Out of time....

N.E. Ohio

Re: French SCHOOL! :-()    21:34 on Saturday, November 10, 2007          

(1335 points)
Posted by Bilbo

To continue,

Georges Barrere would probably have been very responsible for bring over to the US many of the French School concepts being a descendant of Taffanel and then handing down a few things to Baron and the likes of others such as the flutist and composer, Robert Reiniger Meredith Willson. Moyse also was a notable export of the School because both of these students of the French School Barrere and Moyse were teachers in America before 1950.

It seems to be difficult to argue against the current trend of increased dynamic range and more power when it seems that this kind of sound is what is needed to be effective in getting the message across but we should always remember that what we are playing are flutes. If we wanted more power we should have played a more directional instrument like the trumpet or maybe even an amplified instrument where we can control the tone and volume with a few potentiometers and an extension cord.

That being said, there are some very fine tone qualities that some of the modern flutes can be coaxed to obtain but for most of us, they are deceptively easy to play loud and shrill.

So in the end, I would say that this "French sound" is one of good control over the contrast in tone and expressiveness throughout the full range of the instrument .

As a side note, from having heard Maurice Sharp play a few times I am convinced that playing with projection is fairly well misunderstood by the general flute players. Projection and dynamic volume are two different things. If you are not aware of Maurice Sharp, read the little comment on Samuel Baron's "Background":

or try to find more on him on the internets....

BUT these things are my opinion and may not necessarily be true.

If you can coax more information out of the students of Moyse, Rampal or maybe even the very performers, Debost, Wilson, Dufour and many other similar players you may understand the truth even better.

N.E. Ohio

Re: French SCHOOL! :-()    03:29 on Sunday, November 11, 2007          

(2369 points)
Posted by jose_luis

Is there any relationship between what is called "the french (school) embouchure" -in contrast with "the english (school) embouchure- concerning tone quality and projection?

Re: French SCHOOL! :-()    06:53 on Sunday, November 11, 2007          

(1335 points)
Posted by Bilbo

Hi Jose Luis,

Nancy Toff writes in "The Flute Book":
The English flute sound requires more airin blowing and a harder attack, a tighter embouchure, often with the flute pressed rather hard against the lips. The result, typically, is a very, very rich sound, reedy, like Nicholson's in the lowest register. Trevor Wye, one of the finest flutists in Britian today, suggests that the traditional English flute tone is like the typical English weather forecast: "Heavy rain with occasional showers and thick fog with mist patches."

I believe that if you read some of the comments in the Moyse, De La Sonorite, you will see that he refers to a "general relaxation" of the embouchure. In this I've see where the German and probably older English thoughts on the subject were more in line with using the facial muscles.
I think that this comment is based on the amount of tension in any given muscle when it is used because you can't really get much of a sound out of any transverse flute without using some amount of muscles. I think that this MOyse comment about this for a person such as one of the great players who will devote a few hours daily to long tones and then several other hours to exercises and etudes is that their muscles become so toned and efficient that they aren't really assessing correctly the amount of relaxation that they are using. What I mean is that when they relax their embouchure, some muscles are still being used to maintain the sound. So, their comments really can't be used as an example fo a lesser player to go by until the player has experienced this relaxation thing and became aware of the effect on the tone. Of course this may happen more easily with a good teacher present than by the accident of playing.

The question with flute playing is really what muscles to use for any one task and then too how much they are being used.
For example, you don't need to use your eyebrow muscles -even if they are used by some to great comic effect. You Do however need to use your bottom lip muscles as a cushion. But how much you use certain muscles and when is the question.

The answers depend upon the player, the flute that they are using, their muscle tone and their concept of the sound that they believe to be proper.

One major thing that I have learned about playing in recent years that finally hit home with me was from Galway in some of the comments that he has written about how he practices is this. This is my take and not even a paraphrase of his words. >That the practicing is the means to an end. The goal in practicing is to make your performance sound beautiful and easy to the listener. So when you practice, work on the difficulties. Don't gloss over them thinking that next time they'll get better. Work on them in a way that causes the most benefit to your musical skills.< If you apply this concept to your playing and don't get caught up in whether or not you sound like him or any other player than you may become good. You may notice that you playing improves faster.

For this to work, you do need to perform in some fashion. Otherwise, the practicing isn't going to have much of a purpose for you. I tend to use the performances and the nerves to assess my general weaknesses. Like when I'm playing, I ask myself about the differences between how I play when I'm practicing and how I play when I'm performing. The weaknesses that I doscover in performance are then what I concentrate on more in practice. These weaknesses may be something about my embouchure (sound), fingerings, tension, dynamics, focus/concentration or anything that isn't working as well for me on the stage.

N.E. Ohio

Re: French SCHOOL! :-()    17:04 on Monday, November 12, 2007          
Re: French SCHOOL! :-()    06:01 on Tuesday, November 13, 2007          

(1335 points)
Posted by Bilbo

another aspect of this French School is the articulation. Some flutists use what's called the French articulation. THis is where they use the tip of the tongue against the inside of the lips. For any person who has not tried it, it isn't easy to learn. At first the player will tongue throughthe lips and /or use too much force to accomplish the task but when it is learned I believe that it is more efficient and effective.

N.E. Ohio

Next: vowels...

Re: French SCHOOL! :-()    11:04 on Tuesday, November 13, 2007          

(252 points)
Posted by tim

How can you double/triple tongue with the french articulation? Is that even possible?

Re: French SCHOOL! :-()    11:20 on Tuesday, November 13, 2007          

(1335 points)
Posted by Bilbo

Yes. It's about the same. Once you learn this front tonguing (Not an easy feat), it's the same as far as that goes as the behind the teeth tonguing. The tongue goes forward and then back.

The difficult part of double tonguing as far as I have had, is with clearing up the "ku" part.

WIth triple tonguing, I was taught to go ||:t-k-t then k-t-k :|| (alternating) so that it is really the same as double tonguing with a different emphasis to account for the rhythmic pulse.
Of course that aspect of the issue has nothing to to with that French tonguing.

Generally the issues that younger players have is that they use too much tongue, stick it out too far or tongue too harshly which results in unwanted noise or too much saliva in the mouth.

For performers, changing isn't easy because of the tendancy to revert back when a performance is imminent. I have eventually learned both but since I started on the behind the teeth tonguing I am faster with that. When I am doing the behind the lips tonguing and it's working well, I feel that my articulation is clearer for the audience and that it actually takes less effort for the same level of clarity. I think too that if my embouchure and mouth cavity isn't right (open with jaw down a bit)then the tone won't be as good. So I think that this tonguing has imporved my tone a tad. I also feel like I'm tonguing behind the bottom lip when I am doing it right. ~not that I'm advocating anyone changes.

Re: French SCHOOL! :-()    13:07 on Tuesday, November 13, 2007          

(94 points)
Posted by piccolo1991

I love the T-K-T..K-T-K triple tonguing. I didn't know many people were taught that way. I had heard of someone doing it and then started to work with it some on my own in college. It makes so much more sense if you can accent the 'k' slightly. It just makes me happy to know there are others who do that.

Re: French SCHOOL! :-()    14:23 on Tuesday, November 13, 2007          

(1743 points)
Posted by Patrick

well, one can, and should be able to use various articulations, I often use doo-goo-doo when triple tonguing, or sometimes te-te-ke if I want a more percussive effect on isolated triplets...

Re: French SCHOOL! :-()    20:56 on Tuesday, November 13, 2007          

(1335 points)
Posted by Bilbo

True Patrick.

There is also that Martellato style which means .... Hammered out.

or :
Strongly marked; This is a term used in string playing indicating heavy, detached strokes and in piano playing, indicating a forceful, detached touch.

or Détaché:
Détaché: a fundamental bowing stroke used when a passage is made up of even up and down bows. One note per bow. The bow should be firmly on the string at all times, and this stroke is usually played in the middle of the bow.
Out of time to write any more....


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