More and more, fresh, young composers these days will use extended techniques for the instruments they are writing. In this article, I want to explore three of the more commonly used techniques that you might come across in higher level band, orchestra, chamber music, or more advanced solo repertoire.
Any sound made by using the flute in unusual ways.
First of all, what is an extended technique?
I like to think of extended technique as any sound made by using the flute in unusual ways. Sounds that are made out of the ‘ordinary’ or ‘traditional’ flute playing skills.
So, what are extended techniques for flute?
Can you roll your Rs? Or pretend you are gargling water in the back of your throat. Now try playing a note at the same time. You will see this technique ALL THE TIME. Flutter tongue requires a really stable but relaxed embouchure and a steady stream of uninterrupted air. Practice without the flute first, using just your air, then as you are blowing, lift the flute to your chin.
Singing and Playing
Sometimes you will be asked just to make noises with your voice which is called vocalizing. Other times you will be asked to sing a specific note, basically sing harmony with yourself. The trick here is to make sure you’re giving enough air to both the flute and your vocal chords. I like to think of splitting my air stream in two, like the forked tongue of a snake. Then I direct one half to the vocal chords and the other inside my flute. Hum to yourself first, and feel the vibration in your throat. Then put the flute to your lips, and see if you can vibrate in the same way while making a flute embouchure. Then put them together and blow! 🙂
This is basically slapping your fingers against the keys without making any flute sound. Depending on how many fingers you hold down, you will be able to hear different pitches! Just don’t slap too hard, you don’t want to hurt your flute’s feelings. ;)k
I’ve seen some really fun things done with flutes as people are getting so creative now days! I love it!!
I highly suggest trying some of these techniques on your own. Perhaps you’ll find something new and exciting to enter into your latest and greatest home-cooked creation of music. Video it and let us check it out! Perhaps you’ll be a new viral sensation in the flute world…
Ever thought of sitting in the dark with Christmas lights in the barrel of your flute? More things to think about…