Fluttertongue in Dutilleux Sonatine

Fluttertongue in Dutilleux Sonatine

Fluttertongue in Dutilleux Sonatine    20:57 on Wednesday, January 02, 2013          

(173 points)
Posted by egretboy

Hi everyone,

I've been studying Dutilleux's Sonatine for flute recently, and I've been to trying to do the optional fluttertongue in the middle of the third movement. Unfortunately, I cannot roll my R's (and not for lack of trying), so I've been fluttertonguing by constricting my throat the way that one makes an "r" sound in french. This works reasonably well for the sound, but it uses up so much air that I've never been able to get to the end of the section without running out. Does anyone have any tips for getting through here?

I also couldn't help noticing that even most of the pros who recorded this piece have chosen to do the triple-tonguing rather than the fluttertonguing (off the top of my head, I think Pahud is the only one that I've heard who does it). Any thoughts?

Thanks for your help!

Re: Fluttertongue in Dutilleux Sonatine    06:39 on Saturday, January 05, 2013          

(491 points)
Posted by Zevang

Hi, I also use the "french" flutter. Works better for me. About choosing flutter or triple it's really a matter of how is the conception and speed you choose for the whole peace.
It's logic that if you play it on the quicker side, flutter would be better and so is the opposite. It's just coherence. I'd also say that if your range of dynamics is wide, with some kind of violent fortissimos, so it would be better go with the flutter. If you tend to keep the contrast not too big and the peace more to the melodious side so I'd say you would better choose the triples. There is no sense in thinking that flutter for experts and triples for beginners.
About breathing, you'll have to work on it. There is no formula that could get you rid of this limitation. I think that you may need some work in the embouchure area to cope with the different conditions imposed by the french flutter. Rather it be tongue or throat flutter, the work needed seems to be of the same nature, and generally means that you may have to close a little the embouchrue aperture to keep the airstream pressure inside your mouth and spend less air from your lungs. That's theory of course, you'll have to research and practice to find your own and better solution.

Re: Fluttertongue in Dutilleux Sonatine    12:25 on Monday, January 07, 2013          

(1335 points)
Posted by Bilbo

Most likely the reason why most professionals use triple tonguing on that section is because the flutter indication is the alternate and not the principal indication in the A.L. score. I would also suggest that since it was the Concours piece in 1943 that there would be a tradition of sorts handed down amongst the professionals as to their general preference.
This would bring up another concern as to how one would do the other fast triplets such as the measure before Reh. #8 and also the shorter bits in the measures prior to your section before Reh. #11.

I'm not suggesting either way as I agree with Zevang regarding your conceptualization of the piece but we should never consider that either way (Actually we are discussing three choices here) is not something that can be improved with effort.

Regarding flutter tonguing vs. the throat method. I am able to do either way but I'd prefer the tongue flapping method as it's less obtrusive to the tone. Doing this is difficult to explain but the tip of the tongue is pressed up against the roof of the mouth with a certain level of muscle tension in order that the flow and pressure of the airstream causes the tip to flap. Air is only allowed to pass through that area where the tongue is allowed to move. Most people have more difficulty applying this to certain registers such as very low notes and the issue with that has more to do with embouchure control.

best wishes,

Re: Fluttertongue in Dutilleux Sonatine    13:08 on Monday, January 07, 2013          

(173 points)
Posted by egretboy

Thanks for your responses. Over the last few days, I've experimented with some of the methods you suggested, and I've noticed that I've been interpreting that section (going from seven after 10 until 11) with an emphasis on the contrast between the pointed staccatos and the slurred runs. I think I might be able to provide further contrast if I worked on the flutter here, as it's a change of texture and I could make a big crescendo up to the A which could be very effective. However, I've run into a couple more problems:

I couldn't help noticing that my throat flutter, while it does sufficiently flutter the note, creates a deep rumbling in the back of my throat. I think this is because my throat is too constricted, but widening my throat makes my flutter very irregular and uses up even more air. As for the tongue-flutter, I've worked on it on many different occasions to no success, unfortunately.

Unfortunately, the competition which I am preparing this piece for has limited time constraints (up to 7 minutes per performance I think) so I don't think I'll be playing the second movement. This piece is such a difficult one to make cuts on, as each movement sort of ebbs into the next (many recordings put the whole thing on a single track), but I figured that if I played the beautiful second movement I would need to play the cadenza where its theme is introduced, which would mean I would not be able to play the first movement...it was a difficult decision.

As for breathing, I've found that making my embouchure smaller does indeed conserve a lot of air, but sometimes makes the flutter a little bit irregular. I will work on getting my flutter-airstream more focused so this isn't a problem. Unfortunately, I still have difficulty making it to the end of the flutter passage. I've been able to make it if I steal a catch-breath after the first F#, but I'm afraid this would make the section lose its fluidity. However, I can make it to the end with the triple-tongued fine.

Thank you for your help!


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