Category Archives: flute

Living in the Past Performance Video Released …Finally.

I actually started this a LONG time ago, but…. Heck! You know. Life, and all that. Mom deciding to up and head off the planet didn’t help matters. Well, by the time I got back around to this, the file had somehow corrupted, the visuals squeegeeing faster and slower than they were supposed to in chaotic, no formulaic, and, therefore, not easily fixable ways. Wound up having to start all over, something I’m never good at. I rarely procrastinate. Ever. But, when it comes to re-making something already done, then, yeah, I postpone, avoid, defer. But, a promise is a promise, so I beat myself over the head until I sat down and spent the two weeks necessary to redo the editing and splicing. So, here you have it. Jethro Tull’s Living in the Past, performed by zentao Music, namely me and Forrest. As ever, this arrangement is Forrest’s, who somehow manages to capture the essence of any piece he sets his hand to.

If you want to read about the flute playing in this piece, I talk about it here, in “Playing Tull’s Living in the Past“. That’s how I do it, but (…and here’s the biggy) it’s because I can’t get that airy sound that comes easy to Ian Anderson and to beginner flutists. I’ve tired every which way to try to make myself sound airy, but, to no avail. I guess I spent too many hours working very hard not to sound airy. I suppose I could sabotage my flute’s pads, but I won’t. 😀

[arve url=”https://youtu.be/WL0Ui8u0Eco” /]

My Morning Funny

Dawn's Azumi flute

So, husband texts, asking which pieces I’d like to rehearse when he gets home. I give him a rather extensive list of well over a dozen difficult pieces. An hour-and-a-half later, when I’m working through number four on the list, he texts to tell me that he’s hit all of them, so we’re good to go, and he’s heading out …which means he’s starting his assigned heavy-haul KW semi- and heading toward customs to get back into the U.S.

I sit there staring at that text, thinking, ‘You hit that entire list? In an hour-and-a-half? Wow!’ Then comes my sigh of frustration.

Music is so totally in his hand, and so is his instrument. What I have to work weeks at, he manages in a few minutes, or, at most, a few run-throughs during his practice sessions.

Laughter strikes me. It’s only fitting, I think, that me, who spent decades in formal study, grilled and drilled, has to work very hard to come up to speed, while he, who had no formal education in music or his instrument, can toss off really, really intricate, difficult riffs like it’s nothing and hit them every time.

I used to be that good, but with a qualifier: only after years and years of determined practice and only by continuing daily practice, practicing every day, at least four hours a day, could I be that adept and agile, my sight-reading top-notch, my ability to toss off brand new pieces superb, and my repertoire flawless — four hours of practice a day. And that, my friends, is the difference between a virtuoso musician (him) and somebody who’s just talented.

Azumi flute

When the POG2 and the Digitech Throw Tantrums

DigitechRP1000, POG2, and Dawn, Strip

Like I mentioned previously, there’s a lag between playing a note and it sounding through the PA. It’s not much. It’s usually not that noticeable …unless I’m playing under heavy distortion or using the stomp loop to bring up the POG2’s multiple voicing to go along with some of the Digitech RP1000’s distortion or flanger or …whatever makes the sound ‘happen’. Then, it can be noticeable milliseconds of lag, requiring me to really lead the beat. Occasionally, though, the units actually throw tantrums.

I was practicing some difficult foot switching between patches on a piece where I’m playing some fast, upper register lines. As I switch between patches, I’m hearing wobbles the moment I bring the parts up to speed …which, admittedly, really gallop along. I slow the tempo down, and the wobbling disappears. Bring the tempo back up, and there are the wobbles, again.

I’m one of those people who looks, first, to themselves as creating or causing the problem. A check with effects off, though, showed that, I was playing the part accurately. Bringing the effects units back online, I tried again, only to find that, sure enough, at speed, the wobbles happened. Now, I knew that neither the Digitech nor the POG2 like the flute’s third register’s upper high notes played at speed, but this particular glitch hadn’t ever exposed itself to my hearing before …maybe because, stressed out about just getting the switches hit when I should, I wasn’t listening — all too possible. Now I was listening, though.

Trying the line without the POG2 didn’t improve things. Trying the line with only the POG2 on and bypassing the Digitech, also didn’t make things go smoother.  I began trying various other patches on the Digitech with the POG2 off. Okay. That worked. I tried other voicing on the POG2.  Okay, too.  It was both the Digitech’s patch and the voicing being asked of the POG2 that were throwing problems, and isolating one, the other, or having them both working together didn’t make any difference. They did not, either of them, like that line played at speed and were vehemently voicing their objections through the PA.

It made me laugh out loud to hear the machines in their grumbles. They were both having a devil’s time hitting the pitches that swiftly. Slow it down just a tad, and everything stabilized. Turn it up to burn speed, though, and both of them threw fits.

The funny things you have to deal with playing power-driven flute!

Digitech RP1000, the POG2 and Dawn

The Upbeat Man and the Downbeat Woman

(link to lossless flac file is below)

My husband is a rock musician. Through and through. Ask him to play anything ‘rock’, blues, even jazz, and he’s all over it. Ask him to play something more folk or classical, and he begins to suffer. He’s an upbeat man. I’m a downbeat woman. I look for the beat. He looks for the ‘and’ between the beats. Trouble brews. Always.

Most of what we play …because that’s what he arranges …is classic rock — stuff written to emphasize the upbeat. And, of course, I play it like the downbeat woman I am …which makes for lively sessions with husband waving his hands in the air, singing out the upbeats. (I’d love to catch him on video doing that, but, well, that’s not going to fly. He’d be giving me his Beethoven impersonation. You know, stormy eyebrows?!)

Anyway, we did manage to get In Memory of Elizabeth Reed laid down, so, here, in all its upbeat glory, despite the downbeat woman on flute, is the audio of the culmination of today’s efforts.

For those who have the capability to play flac files, which are better sounding than .mp3s because they’re lossless, here’s that file:

For those only capable of handling .mp3s, here’s that one:

Latest Audio Release – Hold Your Head Up

Forrest and Dawn Playing Music 2017

This last weekend, two recording sessions produced two new covers to release. Video won’t be available for awhile, because, honestly, with one of me, I can’t keep up with the processing. Tuesday last, I posted he audio of Nothing Else Matters, a very special piece to Forrest and me, but, while I uploaded the audio of Hold Your Head Up, I didn’t have enough time allotted to get it linked in and properly labelled. I did manage to get it up on SoundCloud, but barely. There’s no cover art, yet, so I’m using one of our defaults. Again, just not enough of me to go around. Enjoy.

An Epic Session Despite Residual Effects

Nothing Else Matters

Residual effects from recording our video tribute to Chris Cornell still plaguing me, namely an ear-worm that’s been playing itself over and over in my head for a solid week, we set up for recording again, this time to record Forrest’s arrangement of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters.

Nothing Else Matters has special significance for Forrest and I. It’s our love song, describing in music and words, how we feel about one another and, truly, about life with each other …and life in general, too. The music evokes the kindled essence of who and what we are to each other, to life, and to ourselves. The lyrics express our attitude, feelings, and perspective about life, others, society, and, yes, even the core of our love to and for one another. It’s our song in a lot of ways, far beyond normal significance.

Enough of all that stuff, though. Back to the session.

Because it’s rock, we keep it strictly in time to its intended tempo, recording under headphones to a click track …which makes it a bit of a trick, because intonation (staying on pitch) on the flute requires subtle adjustments, note by note on the fly …which requires both ears listening. To complicate things, the flute has delay (sometimes called echo) on it in places, and, later, both the guitar and the flute are under heavy distortion, the guitar chunky, the flute gritty and reedy. For me, this makes performing it a careful thing, because I must compensate accordingly for the signal lag that happens to the flute under distortion patches.

Add to that, in this session, my red light fright made my back and neck rigid with tension. Halfway through, it felt like I had knives or, maybe, ice picks, stuck, both, in the back of my neck and in my lumbar region — nasty, piercing, metallic sensations that worsened with the most subtle movement. By the end of the session, I was greedily, needily eyeing a bottle of pain killers, something I rarely ever take, no matter what. I managed to finish the session without resorting to chemical numbing, but just.

A few stretches, bends, and deep breathing techniques cleared the problem within minutes once I fled the studio, escaping outside into the night, there to assuage my taut nerves with gentle darkness and kind evening breezes. Then came the sound.

Session done, Forrest had opened up the studio windows and was playing the recording. It filtered out into the night and, listening, I felt awed. That was us!  From a distance, It sounded epic, and that’s saying something for a flute and guitar duo of a song that brings me, a woman who doesn’t cry, to the brink of tears.

“Nothing Else Matters”

So close no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
And nothing else matters

Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don’t just say
And nothing else matters

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters

Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
But I know

So close no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
And nothing else matters

Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
But I know

I never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don’t just say
And nothing else matters

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters

Never cared for what they say
Never cared for games they play
Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
And I know

So close no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
No nothing else matters

 

A Monday Spent in Recovery

A whirlwind weekend — rehearsal, recording, videography — the resulting video a tribute to a rock star recently passed.  Long hours, long days, longer nights, then Monday.

After getting Forrest to the truck, I desperately needed ‘down time’ and quiet to grab a little sleep. And, of course, as soon as I fell comatose into bed, Mom said that a friend showed up. I guess they stayed quite awhile, glancing every so often toward the door to my bedroom that sits at one end of a balcony span overlooking the great room. But I was far gone into oblivion, literally banked by a protective passel of cats, Laddie, the dog, snoozing away, guard-of-the-door.

I didn’t get more than the necessities done yesterday. I couldn’t. I was wobbling on my feet with exhaustion. But it was a happy, productive weekend, which is nice. We actually rehearsed, recorded, and successfully video recorded Forrest’s arrangement of Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell. Then I compiled the video.

It took five-and-a-half hours to put the video together, and, that, for me, is miracle fast, because I usually spend at least three days compiling them.  I wanted it done by the time Forrest woke, so pulled an all nighter after getting house and hold battened down for the night.  And I managed it — just. On render, there’s only one not-so-glaring mistake — quite a feat when you’re doing something on-the-fly.

The response to it has been lackluster, but that’s okay. We’re happy.

While yesterday was recovery, today I’m feeling like ‘the day after’. You know the feeling, I’m sure. Over-indulgence in anything carries an aftermath of echoed requite.

So, meanwhile, here’s our version of Black Hole Sun.

[arve url=”https://youtu.be/6z1wLn0NIFQ” /]

 

Playing Tull’s Living in the Past

Living In The Past Strip

 

For me, playing Tull’s Living in the Past requires a lot of air. In fact, most Tull pieces require it. To be even modestly effective it trying to mimic the Tull flute characteristic sound, I have to push the brink of where the tone breaks to the harmonic and do so while purposely angling the air column so that it cuts across the outer edge of the blowhole just a certain way. I also have to adjust the delivery and shape of each note as well as my tonguing and how I depress the keys. Here are the details:

Overblowing the sound for this piece I accomplish by, both, pressurizing the air column and increasing the amount of air I’m pushing. This increases and intensifies the speed of the airstream as it cuts across the blowhole. Simultaneously, I also angle that airstream just so, getting the far edge of the blowhole to, quite literally, sharply slice that airstream. It’s what makes that ‘edgy’ sound — a subliminal whistling of wind that’s partly due to the speed with which the air is crossing the blowhole and rushing into and through the body of the flute, and partly due to the angle. This gives the resulting sound its intensity and razed effect. I’m using twice as much air as usual and the embouchure control has to be meticulous to control it. Of course, sometimes the sound does break, and that’s okay. That happens when I stop being so careful and drive the sound too hard. But I find I like the sound, even when it does break.

I also had to adjust my tonguing technique, going back to ‘the wrong way’ of doing it, using the harsher ‘t’ consonant taught by band teachers, instead of ‘du’ and ‘da’ flutists actually use for hard tonguing.

With that ground work employed, then the actual notes have to be formed with the breath using diaphragm control combined with the mouth shape and tongue so that the shape of each punctuated note, whether soft or hard, is shaped like a mushroom, not like the usual ‘O’ pinched at both ends, the soft, big pillow, or a wedge, these latter three being examples too classical in style to get the right effect for Tull rock.

I find myself shortening the duration of the notes, which I shouldn’t, but, with using the ‘mushroom’, I find I want to start ‘bouncing’ the notes — again, another classical technique — instead of what I’m supposed to be doing, namely, ‘punching’ them and then letting them (p)lay out.

Lastly, I have to use a lot of mouth effects in certain passages, but, in Living in the Past, the use is subtle, not overt, so I’ll talk about that when we release one of the pieces where the use of mouth effects is very distinct and noticeable.

It’s very typical of ‘rock’ flute to combine techniques not usually utilized together and do it in a way that produces a distinct and unique energy and grit to the sound. I’m not yet very proficient at it, but I’ve got a start, anyway.

Living In The Past, Video Size