Etude 8: Polyphonic Singing
This is the second etude about singing and playing the flute simultaneously. In Etude 7 we studied the flute and voice part in unisono and in parallel. With Etude 8 we will look into polyphonic singing. Here both the voice and the flute act as a totally independent voice. Below we will look at an exercise for studying this technique and for preparing ourselves for playing Etude 8.
Exercises for Polyphonic Singing
Etude 8 uses the technique of singing and playing independently, like two individual voices (polyphonic). It is like you have to split your mind into two parts, where each part is controlling one melody, without knowing what the other part of the brain is doing. "Rahsaan" Roland Kirk, a blind jazz multi-instrumentalist (1935-1977; see photo with Etude 7), used such a techniques with great virtuosity in his eccentric performances, combined with the use of Circular Breathing and while playing three instruments simultaneously.
To prepare ourselves for the Etude 8, we will first have a look at some exercises:
- Combine a sustained note of the voice with a melody on the flute (#7).
- Combine a sustained note of the flute with singing a melody (#8).
- Combine a polyphonic vocal melody with a flute melody (#9).
Next move on and study Etude 8: Singing Polyphonic. Also, you could take any flute duet and play one part on the flute, while singing the other part. That can be really exciting! As a teenager I used to play with great excitement some J.S. Bach duets just by myself by playing and singing.
Audio samples: Unison and Parallel Singing while Playing
Audio samples: Flute or Tube Drone while singing independently
To sing and play simultaneously is a wonderful technique which can create some crazy expressive sounds. But it will also further develop your possibilities and understanding of vocalization. Even after spending just a few minutes singing and playing your basic flute sound may profit from this. Take care though never to over-stress the vocal-cords and be sure to take a rest when needed. Also remember that often a softer singing will give better results.
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