For the first time the exercises and teaching methods of world-renowned flutist William Bennett are featured in one workbook. After more than a decade of study with Bennett and many of his students, Roderick Seed has documented the tools that have made Bennett known for his ability to give the flute the depth, dignity, and grandeur of the voice or the stringed instrument. Topics range from how to overcome basic technical difficulties, such as pitch control, to the tools for phrasing, prosody, tone, and intonation needed for playing with different dynamics and ranges of expression. Advanced musicians will find useful exercises and techniques in this book that will deepen their knowledge and enjoyment of making music and help them in their quest to master the flute.
|Publisher:||Indiana University Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||8.30(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.50(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Roderick Seed is a British flute player based in Vancouver BC, who made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2010 after winning First Prize at the Alexander and Buono International Flute Competition. He is a graduate of the Royal Academy in London, where he won an entrance scholarship to study with William Bennett, Kate Hill, and Patricia Morris. Seed has performed and taught internationally. Currently he teaches at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra School of Music and performs with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
Read an Excerpt
Finding a Sound
Flutes are often known for being easy instruments to start on. Many people can find a sound of some sort by simply blowing across the embouchure hole, much like blowing across an empty water bottle. But how does it work?
A sound is made when air is blown across the mouth hole. There is then a fluctuation of the airstream above and below the outer edge. Some air goes below the outer edge and travels into the bore of the flute, setting up a series of oscillations down the instrument, which then leads to a sound being created.
Finding Where the Note Speaks
To practice finding a sound, we can find where the flute "speaks," or the point where air becomes sound. To do this, we need to train our lips to be flexible. Let's start without the flute:
Blow on your hand and imagine gently blowing out a single candle (not ten!). To blow out a candle, our airstream needs to be focused and well directed.
Is the column of air focused or does it spread out? It should be focused. Air that is too spread out will result in an unfocused sound. Aim the airstream to the middle of your hand.
Now, can you move the airstream up and down by using your lower lip or jaw? Bring the lower lip forward to move the airstream up and bring the lower lip back to move the airstream down. Allow your jaw to move slightly in accordance with the lower lip. To help, you can think of the words "oo" (jaw forward) and "ah" (jaw back). Feel the air move gradually up and down. Is the air moving steadily or is it shaky? Try to keep it steady.
Focus on blowing gently up and down. Resist the urge to bring your lips into a smile. Have a look in the mirror and watch your lower lip. Try not to move your head up and down while doing this.
Your lips should be round and the air should have a clear direction. Try doing the same movement with your lips, but squeezed into a smile. Compare how little the air can move up and down when your lips are tight with how far it can move when your lips do not have this undue tension.
Now try the same with the flute. Finger the note C2. Start by blowing above the embouchure hole so that all you can hear is air (no sound). Slowly bring the airstream down like you did on your hand and listen carefully.
Follow these steps, referring to the points in example I.I:
Blow up so there is no sound and slowly bring the airstream down until air becomes sound.
This is the point where the note speaks.
Blow up again from point b until there is no sound again.
Where does the sound begin? When you find that point, start again and repeat the process. Once you have found that point many times, try to reduce the time it takes to find it by starting from a position closer to the speaking point. However, make sure you start from point a each time (where there is no sound). The more you practice this, the closer point a will get to point b. This is training for your lip muscles and the basis for "soft attack," which we will look at in chapter 4.
Messa di voce exercise
Try to play from the speaking point of the note and hold it for 8 beats. You can increase the volume of sound slightly so that you are blowing freely. Then allow the sound to fade again. This is what many singers and string players practice — it's called messa di voce ("placing of voice"). Try example 1.2 below. Once you are comfortable with the low notes at the beginning, apply the same approach to the harmonics, remembering to keep the fingering the same. Take your time and repeat where necessary. Breathe between each note so that you practice the process of beginning the note from above each time. Try to keep the dynamic within the range of pianissimo to mezzo piano.
Harmonics in Tune
Once you have found a sound, the next step is to develop it SO that it can be resonant and vibrant.
To get a large, full sound, we do not actually need to use a lot of air. This is a common misconception. When the harmonics are in tune, the sound will ring and project to the back of any concert hall, even in a soft dynamic. Many people blow too hard in order to get a big sound, but this is not an efficient way of producing a full enveloping sound.
Harmonics in Tune
So, what does it mean when we say harmonics in tune?
Every note on every instrument has its own harmonic series, made up of the fundamental (the note that is played) and the overtones. On flutes, the basic harmonic series for low C (for example) is as follows:
To find a harmonics in tune tone, we need to make sure all of the harmonics are in their right place. Practically speaking, we can only check the second and third harmonics (the octave and the 5th above that).
Position of the Headjoint
First, the position of the headjoint (how far it is pulled out) needs to be considered. Each flute has its own in-tune position, depending on its make and scale. Some flutes are pitched at A = 440 HZ while others may be A = 442 HZ or A = 444 HZ. The in-tune position can be found by doing this simple exercise:
First, tune the octave.
It is necessary for the column of air to double in speed to make the note go up the octave from CI to C2, but try to achieve this by slightly raising the jet of air with a very subtle pressure change in the lips (don't simply blow twice as hard!). When you have managed to get the C2 this way, then change your fingers to make the real fingering for C2. Listen carefully to the pitch. How does it compare with the pitch of the harmonic fingering? It should be the same. If the real note is flatter than the harmonic, then push in the headjoint. If the real note is sharper than the harmonic, pull out the headjoint. Don't be tempted to adjust with your lips after hearing a difference in pitch.
Next, tune the 5th above the octave. Always start from the bottom and work your way up to the next harmonic without force. Please note that the third harmonic, because it is a 12th above the fundamental (compound perfect 5th), should be a very small degree sharper than the real fingering. Your goal is to make sure that the harmonic is only slightly sharper than the real fingering. Please see chapter 8 on intonation.
Again, using example 2.3, compare the pitches of the harmonic and real fingerings of all the notes. Make note of any notes that are out of place. The position of your headjoint where the real fingering pitches match the harmonic pitches is your in-tune position. You will need to adjust this position when tuning to other instruments for various reasons (temperature, body condition, pitch of the other instruments, etc.). If you are to play with a piano, warm your flute well and then play your A with a good tone (the sound you will play your piece with) before comparing it with the A on the piano. This will mean that you are comparing the difference between your possibly different As. Whereas, if you let the piano play the A first, it is likely that you will use your lips to adjust to the pitch of the piano, and this will probably mean that you will compromise the quality of your tone by sharpening or flattening everything.
Please note that moving the headjoint in or out affects the notes played by your left hand (C–G#) more than the notes in your right hand (G–D), so we need to be flexible with our lips to fine-tune our instrument. Pulling out the footjoint can help if D2 is sharp. We will look more at intonation in chapter 8.
To find a harmonics in tune tone, we need to make sure that the harmonics present in the fundamental's sound (the overtones) are in tune. For this, we use pitch bending (or note bending).
In the first chapter, we looked at directing the air up and down using our lower lip to find the beginning of a note. We can purposefully change the pitch of a note by covering and uncovering the embouchure hole of the flute with our lower lip. Finger a C2 and start by blowing up, then gradually lower the airstream, covering the embouchure hole more and more, making the pitch flatter and flatter. Then from that covered position, raise the airstream back up to a sounding C2. Remember to keep your lips free of undue tension. See how flat and sharp you can make the note. William Bennett can flatten up to a minor 3rd on most notes in the low register, and very occasionally to a major 3rd (although this is virtually inaudible as the mouth hole must be almost completely covered).
Finger one note for this exercise. The pitches above are approximate and will vary depending on how much you can bend the note. You can do this exercise on any note, but C2 is considered the most flexible one to start with.
Points to consider:
Don't roll the flute in and out with your hands. This can change the pitch, but if you need to make pitch adjustments in a passage of music, you don't want to be rolling your flute all the time and causing undue tension in your body, or losing tonal stability.
Don't move your head up and down. Again, this changes the pitch, but doing this too often will cause tension in your neck and cause your sound to constrict. A little movement is fine, but to make big or quick pitch changes, this method is not suitable.
DO use your lower lip and jaw to control the pitch, and work every day to get a bit further than you did the previous day. Check your movement in the mirror.
Your harmonics in tune tone is the one that is somewhere in the middle of being too uncovered and too covered. Without blowing more, it will sound larger and have a natural resonance. A very uncovered (sharp) sound will produce a flat octave (first harmonic), that is, the octave will be too narrow. A very covered (flat) sound will produce a sharp octave, that is, the octave will be too wide. Therefore, practice the exercise below (ex. 2.5) slowly, listening very carefully to the distance between your fundamental and the first harmonic/octave.
Checking the Octave
Remember to finger one note at a time and bend it with your lower lip. Repeat until you find the true octave and end on a sustained note that sounds rich and full. Air has three basic components: direction, volume, and speed, which we will discuss in chapter 3. To play an octave higher, the air speed needs to double, and the airstream is raised with the lower lip, but the volume of the air remains constant. In other words, don't simply blow more to get a note an octave higher.
This is your in-tune sound, so remember it! This is a good exercise to do before starting scales, so that you can spread your good harmonics in tune sound through all the notes.
I learned the following exercise with Wibb. It is a variation of a vocalise he learned from Geoffrey Gilbert for keeping the sound even and checking the intonation of the octave. Make sure you start with a good sound before moving to the next note.
Here is a variation of the above exercise, where you transfer your best sound to the next sequence. Use the pick-ups at the end of each bar to pull your sound through to an even better note. Start by checking the harmonic C and the real fingering. If you notice that the sound changes (loses focus or color), go back one sequence where it sounded better and continue from there.
Be careful of the rhythm — it is in [??] (not [??] or [??]). In other words, place the stress on the first beat and then on the fourth beat of each bar, using the third and fifth beats as pick-ups. After showing the correct stress, aim for a sustained legato line.
You can do the same exercise going up. Keep going until you reach the highest C.
Reaction in the Sound
"When I do something in my body, the flute — it reacts!"
William Bennett's lessons with the legendary Marcel Moyse influenced his playing and teaching considerably. To paraphrase the quote above: when we do something inside our bodies, the flute reacts, just as when a singer sings "ha-ha-ha-ha" or when a piano key's hammer hits a string. There is an initial attack, followed by a decay. It could be illustrated like this:
This can be simplified to the shape in figure 3.2. Notice how the beginning of the note is not square, but rounded. If you sing any note with the word "hah," you will notice that the air moves over the vocal chords just before the note speaks. This avoids a harsh, explosive beginning, and produces rather a warm full sound. We will look at different attacks in chapter 4.
One should start with a fairly strong beginning to the note which should then diminish, like a church bell (see "Bell Tones" below). If we simply blow hard for the beginning of the note and gradually blow less as the note diminishes we will hear an unpleasant drop in pitch. Using the technique we learned earlier in "Pitch Bending," we need to lower the jet of air and cover the embouchure hole for the louder start of the note (to prevent it becoming too sharp) and to gradually lift the jet of air as the notes becomes softer (to prevent it from becoming flat as it diminishes). This can be achieved by a simple yet subtle movement of the lips and jaw. Try singing "dao" or "daaawoooo," where the lips and jaw come forward to say the "ooo" sound for the end of the note. Then try example 3.1, first listening to how the pitch changes when you don't adjust with the lower lip. After that, try to keep the pitch even.
Getting the Flute to React
Without adjusting the pitch (don't move your lower lip), practice the Allemande from J. S. Bach's Partita in A Minor without the tongue, at a slow tempo, focusing on getting a good attack and decay on each note (think "ha ha ha"). Allow the air to bounce and let the flute respond to it. You can also practice this by breathing in between each note, much like a dog panting.
This is an exercise to help feel what happens in our bodies when we use vibrato. Vibrato is a fluctuation of pitch which can be observed in watching string players, but on the flute or voice it is caused by pressure changes in the blowing mechanism. We want to hear the pitch change. Therefore, without moving the lower lip, blow more and allow the pitch to rise. As the sound decays, the pitch drops. Try to move the pitch up and down as in figure 3.3 by blowing more and then less.
Hold one note and pulse the rhythms in example 3.3 with your abdominal muscles to make a vibrato that speeds up and slows down. Practice it first with a deep, wide vibrato and then a shallow vibrato. For a deep vibrato, more pitch variation is required, so a greater effort is required from the abdominal muscles. This is also a good exercise for filling out your sound. Allow the pitch to fluctuate without adjusting the lips. Repeat each bar as indicated. Remember, don't use the tongue.
After you have played this, just hold the note you were playing without trying to vibrate and you will notice that the sound is already more alive.
"Cardiogram " Exercise
This is another exercise for getting a reaction in the sound. As in the cardiogram in figure 3.4, play a long note with a good tone and give it sudden thrusts of air so that the octave sounds. Always come back to a good, in-tune fundamental. See if you can get the other harmonics out — these will require more effort. You can do this on any note.
Try getting a good attack and decay on the four notes above, as if they were being struck on four different bells. This time, try to keep the pitch constant and make sure the sound remains focused. Look at figure 3.6 below to guide you. Uncovering too much will give the note an airy quality. Remember not to roll the flute with your hands — try to use only the lower lip or jaw.
Cover the mouth hole with the lower lip, then lift the airstream by gradually uncovering it with the lower lip.
With a diminuendo on a single note, the volume of air reduces toward the end of the note, but the air speed should remain constant. The direction of the air will need to be raised to avoid the pitch falling. If the air speed drops, the sound will lose its quality.
Now try the Bach Allemande again, but this time in tune, by making the appropriate adjustment with your lower lip and jaw.
The Three Components of Air
Practice each of the three components:
air direction, and
volume (amount) of air
by isolating them in the following exercise. Try to go from one harmonic to the next smoothly without changing the dynamic. To go from a low note to a higher note, the air speed needs to increase and the direction of the air needs to be raised. For the dynamic to stay the same, the volume or amount of air should stay the same. Air speed is raised by a combination of bringing the lips together (creating a smaller aperture) and using a slight abdominal pressure. Try blowing on your hand (as we did in chap. 1) and feel the difference between fast and slow air. Look in a mirror to observe your embouchure as you do this.
Excerpted from "Mastering the Flute with William Bennett"
Copyright © 2018 Roderick Seed.
Excerpted by permission of Indiana University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword / William Bennett
1. Finding a Sound
2. "Harmonics in Tune" Tone
3. Reaction in the Sound
4. Attacks, Articulation and Repeated Notes
5. Prosody: "Elephants And Taxis"
6. Harmonics Exercises
7. Shakuhachi Exercise for Embouchure Control
8. Intonation Exercises
9. Flexibility Exercises
10. Other Exercises: Whistle Tones and Vocalises
11. Approaching Melodies
What People are Saying About This
Now in his eightieth year, [William Bennett] is still in high demand as a teacher at the Royal Academy in London and in masterclasses worldwide. However, finding any of his methods and exercises in writing proves to be difficult, as he hasn’t written them down himself... Seed has studied extensively with... Bennett and his students, and has also assisted at his masterclasses, so his knowledge of the material is impressively thorough. Mastering the Flute with William Bennett is an invaluable resource for flute players.
Roderick [Seed] has collected a wide range of exercises covering many topics that give the flute player the tools to play with different dynamics and a range of expression, and simultaneously helping them with associated technical difficulties such as pitch control. [He] has introduced my approach to the flute in a clear and logical way with his own insights and experiences.
Bennett’s principles of musical expression are rooted in the physics of sound as well as an awareness of compositional construction.... The principles of phrasing assembled here are applicable to all musicians, whatever their instrument or voice.
"Now in his eightieth year, [William Bennett] is still in high demand as a teacher at the Royal Academy in London and in masterclasses worldwide. However, finding any of his methods and exercises in writing proves to be difficult, as he hasn't written them down himself... Seed has studied extensively with... Bennett and his students, and has also assisted at his masterclasses, so his knowledge of the material is impressively thorough. Mastering the Flute with William Bennett is an invaluable resource for flute players."
"Bennett's principles of musical expression are rooted in the physics of sound as well as an awareness of compositional construction.... The principles of phrasing assembled here are applicable to all musicians, whatever their instrument or voice."
"Roderick [Seed] has collected a wide range of exercises covering many topics that give the flute player the tools to play with different dynamics and a range of expression, and simultaneously helping them with associated technical difficulties such as pitch control. [He] has introduced my approach to the flute in a clear and logical way with his own insights and experiences."