flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

Hi all
Im new to trad flute and wondering where to use cuts , taps and glottal stops.
I am practicing them all but wondering are they interchangeable?
Are some better in some places than others?
An example ,in the lilting banshee… EAA EAA
What would you use between the A and A?
And later …Bee edB… between the e , e and e?
Does it matter!?
Thanks for any tips.

Re: flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

This might be the hardest question you could ask. No easy, one size fits all, answers. My suggestion is to listen to a lot of flute players, listen some more, and then really listen. Listen to a lot of flute players, everybody will suggest their favorites. They all have their ways of using articulations and ornaments, some with a lot, some sparingly. That’s why they don’t all sound the same. Find the one’s you like. Grey Larsen, Conal O’Grada, and Shannon Heaton all offer wonderful resources. The OAIM is another. I personally like Shannon Heaton’s on-line offerings and Conal O’Grada’s tutorial (book and CD). The Irish Flute Store has a list of on-line instructors. Sure you can go it alone, but you’ll save a lot of time and aggravation by finding someone you like and doing what they say. Of course somebody else will tell you you’re doing it wrong so learn from them and choose for yourself. Just be sure that before you decide where to use glottal stops, tongue ( yeah it’s still useful) , taps, cuts, rolls, and slides you can do them. As for the EAA EAA thing fool around with it and see what you come up with. That will teach you a lot too. One last thing, no amount of technical virtuosity will make a player a great player unless that player brings his (for lack of a better word) "heart" to the table.

Re: flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

Are you new two ITM in general or only new to the flute?
You always to keep the basic rhythm in mind "ji-gy-dy Ji-gy-dy" for jigs for example and the gy is always shorter than the ji and the dy. Important is, that your ornamentation supports this basic rhythm. A glotal stop is a really strong accentuation and imho should be used only very carefully, because it is easy to disturb the flow of the tune ;)
I think a cut might give a bit stronger accentuation than a tab.
Back to you example, I wouldn’t use any glotal stops there. I might play E A (tab) E A (tab) A the first round
and the second round E A (tab) E A (cut) A or E A (tab) (cut) E A (tab) A tow emphasise the second jigydy figure more. Or I might set a tab in front of the second E and push out more air at the same time to give it more power. Cuts and tabs or often interchangeable. And for now I think you should abstain from any glotal stops or tonguing and get back to them later, when you are more experienced.
Especially for the beginning it is important to learn tunes by ear and not solely with sheet music to get an idea for placing ornamentation and how to get a good groove.
The youtube channel of Shannon Heaton is extremely helpful for this. Every month she teaches to play a tune by ear on the flute. Here is an example where she play the Lilting Banshee https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f-3VijjJM8&list=PLNBgNicF6tU2yX0QV-whW8NuRRuVeAjuC&index=22

In this example (unfortunately) she uses tonguing :D
and especially as a beginner you should be careful to not make tonguing your default tool for separating notes ;) More experienced players might use tonguing as a very cool ornamentation (from time to time!). But new players easily tend to play the flute or whistle like a recorder with tonguing everywhere.


Listen to a loooooot of ITM and especially flute music. For flute players I would recommend all Matt Molloy and Kevin Crawford albums as a start. From listening you will get a good idea, what kind of ornamentation is appropriate in wich places. I thin especially Matt Molloy black album is a good start, because he plays many really popular tunes there (but unfortunately on an eb flute, so you need some software to change the pitch and probably the speed if you want play along to it).

Re: flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

Yes each ornament has a flavour of its own depending on instruments physics. Befor i go further can you play the tune well on its own sans ornaments? If not that is really the priority,try to get the swing by adjusting the length of notes which alone will emphasise the rhythm.
Figure out how to play it 3 times each with the breaths placed strategically as if singing the lyrics of a song. Id recomend for that actually picking up song melodies from a singer by ear.
There is a lot of subtlty and detail to consider befor progressing to a solid study of ornamentation.
The cut or tap is the lead edge of a note , not seperate to it but a part of it but fundamentally aim for a lyrical style as if singing so a broad brush, then once these basics are in place use a fine brush to add flavour to individual notes .
A cut or tap will add definition and clarity but the tune itself is the primary thing.

Re: flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

Lots of food for thought above, but if you just want to get started and play the tune, you won’t go wrong with a glottal stop (not really the correct term for what you have to do, but there) between the two As of EAA.

For the the Bee e passage you can go with a glottal stop between the first two es and a cut between the last two.

Very few people would tongue in these situations and I’d advise you not to.

Cross-posted: I don’t agree that a "glottal stop" is necessarily a particularly strong articulation. Loads of top players use it in exactly this situation.

(This btw from someone who only occasionally picks up a flute 😉 so feel free to disregard, disagree and pour scorn)

Re: flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

They said it. There is a lot of really good advice out there, but there are no absolute rules, nor should there be. Part of the art (which I don’t say I’ve mastered by a long chalk) is playing the tune in different ways. Learn the ornaments, but feel your way into when and how to use them. And watch out for the trap of using so many ornaments (especially when not executed with great snappiness) that the tune is not clear and obvious to a listener. Old fogey advice: too few ornaments is better than too many, just as playing a tune too slowly is better than going too fast. The first may not be great, but the second are disasters.

Re: flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

@Stiamh I think glottal stops set a bigger emphasis than tonguing. When I think of glottal stops I have Frankie Kennedy (Altan founding member) in mind and I think his glottal stops set a really strong accentuation

@Alex Wilding well said, the ornamentation shouldn’t distract (too much ;) ) from the tune. A good example of very cool flute playing without a lot of ornamentation is Frankie Kennedy. I think the groove is always the most important element, followed by the tune itself ;) And the ornaments should just highlight rhythm or the melody.
Therefore I would always prefer this playing
https://youtu.be/igoH5UVtIko?t=55

over this
https://youtu.be/c5B2PjXvyNk

Re: flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

From what I’ve learned in the last couple of years of playing whistle and flute, there is really no way to tell another person definitively when and where to use specific ornamentation. Everyone does it differently and as long as it works, then it works. So in that sense, yes they are interchangeable, with the caveat that it must SOUND good (rhythmically, emphatically, fluidly, etc.).

Ornamentation is one of the elements gives people their unique style. With no intention of sounding sarcastic or condescending, ornamentation is just that…an ornament. It is stylistic decoration. It’s a bit like trying to answer "What kind of picture should I hang in my living room? Are they all interchangeable?". Yes…and no.

In the first example you gave of the Lilting Banshee, I’d personally use a combination of a cut and a small glottal stop/breath pulse. It’s more difficult for me to tap the G on an A note. I can do it if I concentrate and it sounds OK. It would sound better with more practice…I’m just more comfortable cutting there and it sounds better to my ear. After trying it, it seems I have a tendency to want to roll on A if I try to tap it. My B finger just seems to come up automatically. I almost never tap on an A come to think of it. I’d almost always use a cut unless I needed a roll rhythmically. Others might be more comfortable using a tap…and that is fine if they make it sound good. Others might glottal stop or tongue. Still others might do like I do and use a combination of techniques to get the sound they are looking for.

It’s going to depend on your own rhythm, cadence, and phrasing in the tune as well. As you know, two players can play a tune and it sound like a totally different tune just based on the way they phrase things or the specific rhythm or setting of the tune they are playing. Others who have posted responses were spot on when they said to listen to players you like and see what THEY do with the tune. Try a few different techniques and see what feels comfortable and sounds good to you.

All that is a long winded way of saying "yes, the ornaments can be interchangeable, sort of. Use what you are comfortable with and what sounds good".

Re: flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

> I think glottal stops set a bigger emphasis than tonguing.

A glottal stop can be whatever you choose to make it. You can make it barely a touch, or you can close the throat for half a bar, should you so choose.

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Re: flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

Worry less about which ornament to use and concentrate on why. Ornaments are a tool to allow you to articulate notes and phrases without using your tongue. They can also be used for style and flair, but I suggest putting that aside until you are more experienced. For now, work on using an ornament whenever you are tempted to tongue. Ornaments can also disguise places where you need to take a breath. When you have two of the same note in succession, an ornament is used to separate the two notes. When you listen with the foregoing in mind, you will come to realize there is often purpose to how a player ornaments and the reason for their choice of ornament should become apparent. Not just any ornament will do, but usually there is a choice of more than one and players will often use a different ornament each time the phrase is played. Once you listen with an educated ear, you will be able to experiment on your own.

I dearly wish I had known this when I started! Good luck and have fun.

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Re: flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

thank you very much for every reply!
My take is they are interchangeable and use what sounds good and appropriate.
I admit the engineer in me was looking for some rules like glottal> cut > tap so use in situations x,y,z.
But I am happy to keep listening and learning.

Re: flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

Some good advice here. Mine would be:
Mimic who you like.
Record them ( Youtube etc )
Slow it down to like 30% and you can then figure out how they articulate and attack notes.
Works best really slow.
You’ll hear whether they are using fingers ( cuts/taps ) and/or glottals etc.

I use Reaper, pull the sound files in, and slow the play back ( preserving pitch )
Its surprising when you focus on a bar at slow speed what you uncover.
Pat

Re: flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

Hi,
Personally i would advocate to learn tonguing from the beginning as well as other ornamentation,
I might suggest using/pronouncing tuh, duh and luh when phrasing notes depending on how hard / soft you want to attack the note.
my 2 cents
Pkev

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Re: flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

Hi
Just to add to my previous post, the tonguing i mentioned is much easier on the whistle than flute!!!!

pkev

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Re: flute - cuts , taps and glottal stops

@ Pat Higgins I feel like I should add that some more percussive playing techniques (hard bottom often used by Mat Molloy for example) can’t be played slowly.