“Flautist” is a pet peeve of mine. I just encountered it again in a message board thread.
To summarize: there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for English-speaking people to say “flautist.”
Some, but fortunately not all, of these are mistakes I have made myself.
Another question that I am frequently asked as a woodwind doubler is, “Which instrument is your favorite?”
My answer to this is simple.
If it’s a good day, then my favorite is the one I’m playing.
If it’s a bad day, then my favorite is any one but the one I’m playing.
I’m spending the summer studying for my doctoral comprehensive exams. One major component of the exams will be woodwind literature, so I’ve been trying to narrow down lists of really essential pieces. It has been an interesting challenge to select a list long enough to have depth and short enough to be manageable (I’ve was shooting for around 100 pieces total – I’m a little over).
I wanted the list to be a balance of a lot of different things: commonly-taught and commonly-performed literature, pieces of historical import, pieces representing style periods from Baroque to the 21st century, pieces covering a range of difficulty levels, and so forth.
In response to my recent post about woodwind doubling degree programs, someone sent me this question:
My question is, out of that list, do you know of which schools offer multiple woodwinds with a Jazz/Contemporary focus … or at least some focus on jazz?
I checked out most of those pages, but it seems it’s all very classical focused.
Before addressing that question, I think it’s worth saying that if you’re going to be a woodwind doubler, a little jazz background is really valuable.
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is widely used by college music students and is regarded by most (for better or for worse) as the unimpeachable source of all musical knowledge. In my studies for upcoming doctoral comprehensive exams, I ran across this in the “Flute” article:
Materials used for the tube and mechanism include nickel-silver, sterling silver, gold and platinum, while the springs are usually of tempered steel or phosphor bronze, occasionally of gold or another metal. The choice of material, especially for the head joint, influences the flute’s tone: wooden flutes produce a rich tone with a very full fortissimo in the lower register; metal flutes produce a limpid, flexible tone with great carrying power and also allow the player very sensitive control over the tone-colour; gold produces a mellow sound while silver is more brilliant. To achieve a combination of these qualities a head joint of wood or gold is sometimes fitted to a tube of silver.
The idea of different materials having different sounds is, of course, seen as conventional wisdom by flutists (and indeed by wind players in general), but it flies in the face of 100 years of acoustical science.
“So, how many instruments do you play?” I get this a lot.
The way I prefer to answer is this: I play all of the major modern woodwind instruments, plus some folk and ethnic woodwinds.
That answer usually doesn’t cut it.
I’ve been working on improving my pitch this summer. Why is it so difficult to play a woodwind instrument in tune? I believe there are three reasons:
To play in tune, I’m working on addressing each of these problems. Some notes-to-self:
I recently picked up a copy of The Many Sides of Alfred Gallodoro, Vol. I from Half.com. (As of this writing, they don’t have any copies left, so you’ll either have to get yours from his own website or from CD Baby. There are sound clips at both sites.)
Mr. Gallodoro is a living legend of woodwind playing: born in 1913, started playing professionally as a teenager, and is still at it. I’ve got him listed on my little woodwind doublers’ hall of fame, and you can read his full official bio here.