Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

Hi to any folks reading, I searched for previous discussions so I wouldn’t get into trouble, but didn’t find this one. Sorry if it’s all been done before. I posted about selling an Irish flute recently, but I think I’m having some breakthroughs, so I going to keep it, but I have a sound in my head I want to make and I’m not sure how to make it. When I listen to or watch a player it gets me a bit nearer to making my mouth do the thing that makes THE sound, when, as another posters said, "the thing comes alive"…… or words to that effect. For me the sound feels most alive when that hornlike bass comes in. I’ve been listening to some players like Michael Clarkson and Grey Larsen but could you help me out with a few more please?
Cheers
Joel

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

Congratulations! You have just brought up one of the most difficult aspects of flute playing, embouchure control, and there are two major considerations about that. I am going to simplify this, but you must experiment. First, the lower lip controls the tuning while the upper lip controls the tone. Second, tight and smooth skinned lips produce a bright and brilliant tone, while loose and supple lips produce a dark and reedy tone. And it is a combination of those two considerations that will produce the tone you seek, all while keeping the flute in tune. But you must experiment, perhaps including lip positions you had not considered. Just remember that the muscles can pull the lips in toward you, making them tighter, while your breath can stretch the lips away from you, making them looser. And the dark and reedy tone you seek can only be made with a most relaxed embouchure.

Keep the embouchure hole pointed straight up and let your lips wrap around it.
Experiment! Experiment! Experiment! But what you seek is there to be found.

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

Perhaps thinking of it like blowing into rather than across the embouchure hole will help?
you want the airstream directed down a bit.

Also you want to play with making the flute sound buzzy by playing almost between the octaves.
I think of it like filling the flute and then pushing it a bit till you get that reedy / harmonic rich sound.

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Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

Depends on what you mean by dark. One player’s tone production I like, is Tom McElvogue, who has a great CD "The Long Hard Road" https://thesession.org/recordings/3829

Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alsxmrTizGk

I think this might be on a Bb low flute, but he has plenty of nice stuff on a D flute as well.

Also, a commercial post, check out the Wooden Flute Obsession CDs, for 120+ different players, for a variety of tone, articulation, repertoire, etc.
http://www.worldtrad.org

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

And really do not neglect to push enough air into the flute. Doesn’t need to be tuba-like quantities of air, but a pinched-off and miserly airstream will produce a pinched-off and miserly tone. The trick is to produce a small hole which retains its’ shape when the pressure of the air going through it changes. i.e. not just squeezing it shut and using the air to force the hole to stay open a bit…

Anyway, the variables are lip hole size, airstream speed, volume of air, air pressure behind the lips (obviously these four are interdependent…) air stream location (left right, above, below relative to hole.) and direction. The guiding principle is if it sounds right then it is! So, play with the parameters until you know what works for you and your flute. If something sounds better than at other times, try to work out what you are doing differently and work on always doing that. One common one is that everyone tends to sound better after ten minutes of playing or so as all the muscles get warmed up and start to actually do their jobs properly. You could work on this by trying to artificially warm up a bit beforehand, e.g. blow raspberries, huff and puff a bit, etc.

And make sure you are holding the flute securely so that all of the above can remain stable.

(The advice about sitting between the octaves is a good exercise in its’ own right - practice being able to sit on the boundary between the two octaves and you will have no problem landing securely on either side of it when you need to be in a particular octave.)

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

Forcing yourself to play with the enbouchure hole pointing straight up
could result in poor ergonomics, You don’t want to end up looking down
at the floor. That’s bad for your neck, constricts the air flow and makes it harder to communicate with the other
players. It can also do bad things to your wrists, Turn the headjoint in a bit,

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

You can redirect the airstream relative to the embouchure hole in the flute by; a. rotating the flute, b. tilting your head up and down or c. using fine control of your lips to redirect the stream leaving everything else the same.

Generally, you need to find (in this order):
1. A position for your head that is not going to wreck your neck. Stick with this, except while trying to nod to the bar person for another beer. Or when trying to look moody playing a slow air…
2. A degree of rotation of the headjoint relative to your head which puts it roughly in the middle of the range of air directions that you play with.
3. A degree of rotation of the flute head on the flute’s body that maintains point 2 while allowing you to hold the flute comfortably.
4. Lip positions that can direct the air flow where it is needed for the different notes, tone colours and fine tuning corrections that you will play with.

While playing, all corrections should basically come from the lips. All the other corrections should be setup before you play with the possible exception of some headjoint rotation for really large tuning corrections required when you discover that things are out of tune half way through playing.

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

I play with the headjoint turned out a bit. Some of the best flute players I know do the same. You don’t have to turn your head down to blow down. It’s in the lips.

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

Getting back to the topic, how about that Marcus Hernon for Blackest Tone nominee?

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

One of my teachers talked about air stream velocity, which is a bit hard to put into words, but the gist is that you get (or feel like) the air moving swiftly through your windpipe and mouth, resulting in an even, rapid stream of air hitting the flute. Put another way, your airstream shouldn’t just be shaped at/by the lips. Put yet another way, a fiddler’s bow hand is (usually) pretty far from the point where the bow touches the strings—in the same way, your diaphragm starts affecting the airstream well before the air exits the lips and touches the flute. So the airstream is not just what’s happening between your lips and the flute; you can trace it all the way back to the source—your lungs.
Anyway, you’ll start to know it when you feel it.

Also, velocity is not to be confused with blowing hard—it’s about controlling and shaping the airstream to generate a resonant sound, not about blasting air into the instrument.

Speaking of getting a resonant sound, the shape of your mouth affects tone color (try some different shapes—you’ll find some are darker than others), as does keeping the throat open and relaxed (you won’t achieve good airstream velocity if you pinch it off while it’s still in your throat).

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

Colm O’Donnell has by far the darkest rich tone you will ever hear (IMHO)

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

Colm O’Donnell has by far the darkest rich tone you will ever hear (IMHO)

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

Ah, many thanks Session members, this is just what I needed. I nearly gave up the flute in favour of Irish pipes (in respect for the makers and I’ve got enough on my plate already) which would have been a mistake as I’ve spent a few days recently playing with a genius musician friend wot taught himself passable Irish fiddlin’ in a year and a half. And it doesn’t sound toooo bad. Long way to go, but you have helped enormously, cheers again,
Joel.

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

We should have defined "dark" a while back in this thread. I find Nuala’s tone to be bright, bubbling, popping and not in the least what I think of as "dark".

She’s great, isn’t she?

🙂

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

"We should have defined "dark" a while back in this thread. I find Nuala’s tone to be bright, bubbling, popping and not in the least what I think of as "dark". " Ben Hall.

Subjective innit? Nuala to me has a much darker tone than that in say the Bradley & Molloy examples presented here. Molloy to me has a very strong tone as has Bradley, but I wouldn’t call it a dark tone. We all have different ears - let there be light - Louise has a dark tone here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utLcRWVMQyY

Re: Which flute players have the darkest dark tone?

She certainly has a lovely warm tone there. I still wouldn’t describe Louise’s tone as "dark".

I’m going to have to find a recording of someone whose tone is something I would describe as "dark". Trouble is, I don’t think I’ve heard much of what I would call "dark" tone from recorded artists or the top stars. You do hear it amongst session players though.