March 5, 2011
Today as I was practicing Wil Offerman’s Honami, a fantastic solo flute piece that is inspired by the breathy shakuhachi, I had an AHA! moment regarding multiphonics. I’ve been trying to improve them over the years and have always felt a little wimpy with them. But today I realized something that helped me, and it may help others too.
If as you are blowing the first note (the lower note) and guiding yourself up into the higher note, let some air go between your upper lip and teeth….and also feel like you have a little bird beak also with the upper lip. I learned both of these tips from Francesca Arnone of WVU for playing in general which we should do anyway to help us get a vibrant, full sound. And I remember when I was at Offerman’s summer course a few years back how much he told me to get my lips out, and it was much much more than I was used to for “regular playing”…he explained that for a lot of this extended technique stuff it’s a huge help. So combine the air between the upper lip and teeth, with the bird beak, and the lips like deflated inner tubes really forward, this helped me and my multiphonics sounded kind of decent!
I’d be curious to hear from other flutists about their multiphonics experiences…
Update–Robert Dick just shared this video with me, and it’s worth sharing here. I’ll write more about this video and my own learnings soon….
A few more revelations and hints on multiphonics that have helped me:
1) Play each note separately to feel where you need to place them
2) Keep air constant
3) Adjust jaw, lips as needed…think of a huge embouchure to embrace both notes, play around with vocalizations–I find that AW helps for lower notes, EE helps for higher notes
4) It helps me to put a little air under the top lip
5) Keep aware of the body, and where you can relax more. I’m studying body mapping and doing yoga also to heighten my awareness of where I tense. My problem areas are neck/throat and shoulders and so I look to be very conscious about this area in my playing in general.
Laura Lentz ©2011