Monday, July 04, 2016


My mother's overhauled and restored flute arrived in the mail a few days ago. I have been having a grand old time getting reacquainted with the instrument I played for three hours every day from age 14 to age 16. When I was 16 I got my own open-hole flute, which I sold back in the 1990s to help pay for a violin.

The flute is surprisingly easy to play (particularly after playing the baroque flute), and it has only taken me two days to regain some breath control and technique. But with the return to playing the instrument I used to express myself in adolescence, and the instrument with which I experienced the frustrations of trying to fit into the musical world as a young adult, comes all sorts of emotional "baggage."

Yesterday I decided to make a couple of recordings playing the flute and using the piano generator that lives in my Finale notation program. The pieces I have written for flute and piano sit on a few library shelves and on the hard drive of Subito Music (the publisher that sells some of my music). I don't have any idea if anybody has played them.

I tried my hand at Cante Jondo, a set of pieces with some serious rhythmic complexities. I found that I had quite a bit of difficulty playing and counting at the same time. String playing has taught me to externalize rhythm. The amount of bow and the actions of the bow can replace some of the act of counting for me. And then there is the ability to use your mouth to count (softly) out loud while playing. The flute has nothing external to help, and the mouth is otherwise occupied, so the mind has to do it all.

This YouTube video has four of the five pieces. The fifth one was too difficult to synchronize with a non-living pianist.

"For Poulenc," my other Subito-published piece for flute and piano, started life as a song setting of a Frank O'Hara poem, which I couldn't publish (for copyright reasons). I adapted it for flute and piano, and dedicated it to my teacher, Julius Baker. Here is a recording.

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