Australian composer Carolyn Morris, has arranged her recent orchestral work 'Oceana' for large Flute Ensemble.
I have commissioned a new work from the versatile and creative composer, Daniel Dorff of Theodore Presser, for the 2018 NFA Flute Convention in Florida. The piece will be for bass flute and piano, and is sure to enrich our growing low flutes repertoire and challenge the capabilities of this instruments.
'Underwater Flowers' by Gary Schocker
Flute Tutor Australia has posted a new page on their growing web-site dedicated to the LOW FLUTES. This page will feature music, artists and accessories about the Low Flutes both in Australia and throughout the International Global flute community. We welcome any information you may wish to post (concerts, new music, models of instruments, recordings, etc.) that pertain to the Low Flutes.
'Crimson Carousel'- Concerto for Two Flutes (C and Alto Flute)
'Subtriplication' a real hit at Low Flutes Concert....
Some possible reasoning behind the purchase of alternate instruments....
The Monash University Flute Ensemble has been awarded a travel grant from the 'Creative Young Stars" program.....
Los Angeles based composer, Peter Senchuk is clearly redefining what is possible from the sounds of multiple flutes. With more than sixty works composed for various sized flute ensembles, this composer is reshaping the sound and style of the modern flute choir.
Melbourne based composer Carolyn Morris has composed a work for low flutes duo and piano. The composition has been commissioned by Peter Sheridan and is titled, 'Forest Over Sea," which will feature the alto and bass flutes with piano. The composition will be featured at the Australian Flute Festival in Canberra during early October, and recorded for the Independent record label MOVE.
The established and well performed Canadian composer Diana McIntosh has created a new work for a small ensemble of low flutes titled, 'Sleep's Borderland.' In the composers words, "The work consists of two movements titled, Fugitive Worlds and Mind Parties respectively. These contrasting movements will explore the strange, mysterious, and disturbing, worlds between sleeping and waking. Constantly fluctuating moods roam through half- remembered , half imagined spaces, seeking a sense of peace." The work will be scored for alto , bass, contra bass, sub contra bass flutes and piccolo.
It is a pleasure to announce the beautiful and sensitive slow ballade by Gabriel Faure has been recently arranged for SOLO ALTO FLUTE and a small collection of low flutes. Robert Rainford (from Forton Music), fine low flute player and enthusiast was so kind to make the arrangement for my 2012 trip to Los Angeles to perfrom and record with the Los Angeles Flute Orchestra. The beauty of the simple yet lyrical line is only enhanced by the colour of the alto flute, and the soft hue of the tender chords played by alto, bass, contra and subcontrabass (or double contra). A recording of the arrangement should appear in late 2012. I thank Robert for his work and kind consideration of this most memorable tune.
Please visit, FORTON MUSIC for other music for low flutes and flute ensemble.
Australian composer Rhonda Berry has composed new chamber music minatures for the low flutes.
Melbourne based composer Taran Carter has spun his creative twist on a new work for bass flute and piano....
These makers of fine low flutes make brilliant improvements to their low instruments.......
Australian based composer Michal Rosiak has announced a new concerto project for the bass flute......
American composer David Ott has completed a piano reduction of his stunning alto flute concerto. The work is set in three movements and is a masterpiece of composition and virtuosic writing.......
Preliminary plans and sketches are underway for an exciting work featuring amplified bass flute, computer symmetry and strings by Sydney based composer Houston Dunleavy....
A new member of low flutes family is born...
The legendary ROBERT DICK does it once again with his incredible artistic vision for sound...
A collection of 7 original duos for interchangeable low flutes has provided new opportunities for the low flute family....
The Kotato and Fukushima Sub-contrabass flute in F is clearly one of of the most amazing low flutes......
Flute Ensembles gives a shine to new premieres...
A new reality for the low end of the pipe....
Concert Etudes for Low Flutes (2010)
Hilary Taggart (UK) has completed a set of seven etude-concert pieces designed specifically for the Alto flute.....
The Curved Alto Head Joint
Over the years I have been asked about the 'correct' positioning for the curved headjoints on the alto and bass flutes. My response is simple and quite clear, "the correct position, is the position that works best for one's sound, finger technique and balance of the instrument." First out, I do not endorse the use of the curved alto head joints. It is my humble opinion that these curved alto flute head joints may play out of tune and distort the lower partials of the overall quality of sound. This said though, many flutist need to work on the curved head, as their arms may not stretch efficiently to the lower end of the instrument, and the straight heads can cause back, neck and hand pain. So the curve in the head does provide a closer hand set up, and provides a relaxation of shoulder and neck tension.
I have seen all types of curved head set ups, from in-line with flute body, to the head positioned over the the top of the body, and played in a downward blowing position. I find that placement of the headjoint halfway between these two extreme positions, so another words, just above the thumb plate, yet not over the keys, is a somewhat optimal setup. This position is roughly over the rods. There are two mechanical reasons for this placement.
1) the flute can now be supported from underneath, and the LH can provide a slight upward force to counter balance the weight of the larger body and tube, ' gently' pushing the headjoint into a solid and stable embouchure position.
2) This angled position allows for 'pitch manuvering' which is a realistic truth on the low flutes.
What is often the problem with this position, is that flutist then counteract themselves by turning the position of the head joint in (towards the lips), which can negate their efforts made to get the air source through the longer, larger pipe. A more open position tone hole set up, will provide deeper, richer low partials , creating a clearer, cleaner, projecting tone.
To recap, the position of the curved head has to work for the weight-balance, freedom of fingers and best tone production on the instrument. With aware self-observations in the mirror, one can solve numerous problems and create new methods of self expression through this unique relationship of the curved headjoint. This curved type of headjoint has many more choices that the normal straight headjoint and can be a wonder to explore. The best advice I can give is: make the darn thing work for you. There are some many positions, yet the 'correct' one is the one that works best for your sound, and comfort.
Low Flutes Recordings
There are several recordings featuring a few tracks of Low Flutes. It is a real treat to sit quietly and turn up your speakers on some of these amazingly low sounds. These are not listed in any particular order. Enjoy the sounds, feel the vibes!
Wild New Music for Flute(1998) Sheridon Stokes and Jared Ferguson-Alto/Bass - Works of incantaions, fearturing composers performing on Alto, Bass and C Flutes (Sheridon Stokes Music)
Glaciers in Extinction (2005) Roberto Fabbriciani-Hyperbass flute and tape - A World premiere recording of the Hyperbass flute. Six evocative, soundscapes exploring the enigmatic tones of the World's largest flute (Col Legno)
Spinning: Geoffrey Collins-Flutes (1995) - Featuring the incredible Alto flute solo composition by Andrew Ford, writing for Helen Tara O'Connor (Tall Poppies)
JEUX: Mikael Helasvuo-Alto Flute (2001) - A fantastic work by Finnish Esa Pekka Salonen, featuring exciting and wild extended techniques. Outstanding performance!
Depths of Sound: The Sub-Contra Bass Flute
The Sub-Contra Bass Flute, a monster of double tubing, with an embouchure hole large enough to fit a piccolo through, is a warm welcome to my collection of Low Flutes. The instrument is capable of sounding a C, three octaves, yes, three octaves below middle C! Made by the remarkable maker from the Nederlands, Jelle Hogenhuis, he produces this instrument at a fraction of the cost of a silver model, and I mean fraction. The flute takes a bit of time to readjust, though if you are a fluid bass or contra player, you will not have much trouble transferring. Once you find the air capacity and deep support, the full rich partials create a wonderful raucous sound. Jelle began designing these instruments in the 1980's and has never stopped. He also makes other low flutes, though I have not had the pleasure of testing these instruments out. The Sub-Contra's massive body tubing is made completely out of PVC piping (a small feat of engineering), and is set beautifully with silver plated keys (with key pins as long as a flute head joint). The instrument is played seated in a hugging position with the hands in a slight reverse order (left hand below right hand). Its core sound reminds me of a growling bear (I mean this with the up most endearment) and the possibilities for tone colours are bountiful. Jelle provides a finger chart that spans three octaves, though I can only find about two octaves that sound correctly in tune with a good quality, right now. I will keep practicing those high notes on my Low Flute! The heart of the instrument is obviously its lowest register, which can sing, groan, growl or buzz a tone; physically moving the substance of air in its path. Read more: SCB PDF
Orchestral Alto Flute
I have presented classes on the Orchestral literature for Alto Flute. The class is just over an hour, and we play, discuss and problem solve the three large orchestral works that include the Alto Flute: "Rite of Spring," "Planets," and "Daphnis and Chole." All of these compositions explore the instruments unique and distinct color, as well as its sensitive yet vibrant tone and projection. Also dicussed are the symphonic and operatic works of Benjamin Britten that involve this instrument. In his "Sinfonia da Requiem" we find an extraordinary understanding of orchestral blend and balance, as Britten uses the Alto flute as a low support for the floating flute lines above it, in the Aeternam Requiem (III mv't.) This simple yet sonic and emotional colour gives Britten his distinct and vivid orchestrations. In my opinion, this excerpt, is an excellent warm-up for tone, quality, and over-all 'loose' control of the delicate alto embouchure. Good supply of air, will allow the alto to produce a big hollow-like tone, which is excellent for blending. Orchestral Alto
As a dedicated member of a professional flute quartet for many years, it would usually take me double the time to set up my end of the ensemble compared to the others. I can remember on one particular concert playing five different flutes. Now for some this may seem like no big sweat, set up the flutes, toot on them and away you go. Well I am writing this short article to state it differently. Performing on multiple flutes (or any multi-instrumentals) is an art and an absolute artistic comittment. The Contrabass flute alone stands some five feet off the ground, and could take three times the breath capacity to perform the same phrases as on the C flute (I am in no way complaining, by the way....) The uniqueness of the Low Flutes is their clear and present differences of tone quality and agaility. Try playing the opening of the Mozart G on all four Low Flutes, one soons understands how different they truly are. Playing all these flutes well, is not some unknown truth, it is just really hard work!
As I stated above, assembly alone can take ten minutes. Never mind warming them all up! The logic is understanding and connecting with the embouchure and the tube. The embouchure is an amazing set of muscle groups working together (not against) to form the opening for the airstream from the lips to leave. On the Sub-Contra bass flute, the embouchure opening is roughly three to four times larger and wider than the C Flute (yes, that is why one runs out of air so quickly on these instruments). The point is, to SLOW down the air stream and allow the air to leave the embouhure at a much slower rate. The Sub-Contrabass Contrabass flutes are upright instruments and take a new attention to balance and stability. Your hands placement is different (and even slightly backwards on some sub-contrabass models) and the technique needs to be modified. I find my hands a bit more locked in on this instruments, as the tone holes are larger and need a precise covering when played at speed.
Lyric Concerto for Contrabass flute
With only a handful of concertos for this large up-right flute, this new work comes as a landmark. Bruce Lawrence, who sadly passed away suddenly this year, completed a beautiful lyrical concerto for the Contrabass flute and strings. Scored for string quartet with an optional double bass, the concerto, set in three movements (Allegro-Andante-Presto) is a fine piece of solo writing with a sensitive attention to the voicing of the Contrabass flute line. Bruce composed a good portion of the solo line in the flutes third octave, which explores the instrument's distinct and memorable timbre. The lyricism of the well crafted melodies, especially in the second movement, are a testiment to the musicianship of Bruce's work and sensitivity. I believe this is one of only about four Concertos for the Contrabass flute. A commercial recording should be released later this year. A must for fans of the lower sounding flutes! Sounds like a cello, but you know its a flute.
The well known and respected British composer, Andrew Downes has composed a fine Contrabass flute sonata.....
I had often read about a mysterious T-shaped flute named the Pinschofon.....
....Some are more technical than others, and some are just down right "Good Reads." Another words, inspire the muses within us....
The well-known and versatile Canadian composer Diana McIntosh has composed an exciting new work for Bass Flute and Piano (interior) to be premiered at the Ground swell concert series on Thursday April 9th in Winnipeg, CAN. The substantial work explores the both the lyrical and avant-garde from both instruments and is sure to captivate the listeners attention and vivid imagination. The piece plays with sonic and movement tension with perfromers freely moving withon the performance space to create and capture unique and 'other-worldly' sounds. More to come about this most fascinating addition to the low flutes repertoire soon.
The Low Flutes (Alto, Bass and Contrabass) are unique in the issues to air quantity, air speed, and embouchure angle. These instruments all require much more air to excite their wider longer body tubing, a slower air speed and possibly a closer angle to the back wall of the embouchure tone hole. AIR QUANTITY The quantity of the air used to play the contrabass flute well, sompared to the flute is almost double. Really! You need to fill up the lungs, drop the diaphragm and extend the intercoastal muscles of the rib cage. This manner of breathing and inhalation will allow your low flute to sing like a cello with a fine bow. Also do not neglect the chest cavity. As a fine Opera Tenor once stated, Älways leave the chest up and open....ready to do it's job." Well there are varying degrees of this technique, but please use in moderation, as an overuse can cause problems with your back and neck. The basic concept: fill your body with so much air, then top it up with even more. Overtime your can here some dramtic tonal changes in the quality of your sound and musical phrasing. SPEED QUALITY The air speed on the low flutes will be slower and the embouchure will be a bit wider in shape. I set my blowing in a reverse psychology and convince myself that as I blow out my air in coming in. A great method to slow down and control the air speed of your embouchure.