glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Warning: The following is not for the faint of heart. It’s about the back of your mouth. This is about using glottal stops non-stop.

If that didn’t gross you out, stick around. I need to learn glottal stops to perfection. I promise I won’t obsess over them down the road. But that’s then & this is now! I may be obsessing over my technique but how else can I perfect it without overindulging first and only later focus on refining my timing, subtlety & nuance?

In 20 words or less where does a wannabe glottal-newbie begin?

Thanks in advance. Now start posting; gosh darn it!

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Cough, cough, cough.

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

I know the basics, Mr. Eskin. Is that your entire story?

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

That’s it, Ben. Don’t overthink it. It’s not magic any more than tonguing is. It’s just a technique to control the flow of air. You can also say “kuh”, which is a cough started higher up the throat. It’s easy to do. The tough part is incorporating it in a manner where its use becomes second nature, so that your playing flows, rather than becoming stilted. I never mentally differentiate when I use glottal stops from when I don’t; they just happen. Mine are not very pronounced, but they serve a function for the sound and flow I want. It’s one of the tools for playing Irish music.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Thanks, Ailin, but I’m going for overthinking now. That’s the point of this thread.
In short I want to hear from players who are able to differentiate when they use glottal stops.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

You want overthinking in 20 words or less?

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Only if you know the subject.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

In the London accent we use glottal stops all the time instead of the letter T!

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

What does that mean, Ben?

Oh, I see you edited your original reply. I can differentiate when I use global stops, but you will be less skilled at it if you do. When you speak, you rarely consciously concentrate on your vocal articulation or breathing. So should be your flute playing.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Ailin, I am currently seeking total obsession. My warning was posted right at the top.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Well, you asked how to begin and Michael and I told you. I used more than 20 words, since you seemed to find Michael too terse. However, if you intend to use gs nonstop, you must understand you will need to cease all other forms of articulation. The gs cannot be combined with rolls, cuts, cranns, etc. In short, you will cease to sound Irish. You might as well tongue everything.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

You could simply learn Hawaiian language. You’d be a master of glottal stops by the time you’re finished!

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

2 words - Conal O’Grada.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Make sure it really is a glottal stop and not something else you read on the internet. Then use it where it fits.

“It’s about the back of your mouth” vs “I know the basics, Mr. Eskin.” 😏 My mouth doesn’t go back, or down, as far as my glottis.

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

“The gs cannot be combined with rolls, cuts, cranns, etc”.
This is plain wrong. Conal O’Grada states categorically on page 35 of his flute tutor “I use them [ glottal stops ] on almost every single note”. There is no shortage of cuts, strikes or rolls in his playing. See below :
https://youtu.be/UuCP8QkKiqI

AB - I would recommend Conal O’Grada’s flute tutor , which has an accompanying CD, to you. He has a whole chapter devoted to the subject of glottal stops and how and why he uses them.
PS - came across this - watch from 1m13s to 1m40s :
https://youtu.be/NpuCSQpdlzM

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

I hear no glottal stops, but I like his playing.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Sigh.

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Ailin, if you can’t hear glottal stops in Conal’s playing then something is clearly different in what you think they are or should sound like compared to my execution of them.

So we’re all on the same page here going forward, perhaps you can provide a link to a video with what you would call glottal stops.

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Be back to you soon. In the meantime, perhaps you can tell me what would change if you took his glottal stops out. All flute articulation in Irish is an alternative to tonguing. If you are using cuts and rolls, that function is covered. Where do his glottals come into play?

Ah, here you go:
https://youtu.be/bol4rwl8-jc


I only just found this, but it’s exactly my point.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Glottals pretty much replaces all use of the tongue for initiating articulated notes. Has nothing to do with cuts or rolls at all, only has to do, at least in my use of them, with initiating a note or to provide a more percussive rearticulation of a note in the context of an ornament.

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Agreed. That’s why you would not combine them. So where do we disagree? Cuts and rolls employ a finger pulse to initiate the note. You wouldn’t use the tongue or the throat for a cut or roll and I’m not hearing it in the recording. It may be there, but I don’t see the point.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

agree with kenny that conal og’s book is a fantastic resource. the accompanying cd also includes some tracks in which he isolates gs and sets out examples in some tunes. ailin - something like that might really help u to hear it properly.

then u need to practice gs daily for a while if not already doing it. really, so it’s second nature. e.g going up the scale from d, 3 notes at a time with the gs on the first note of the 3 up to 3rd octave d. and then all the way down. try doing it on all the notes in the scale. and then gs softer and harder. mess about with it; have fun with it.

gs great to make a phrase a bit more distinct from the rest. a subtle point at the top of a note, phrase or triplet. or if walking down a few notes.

conal og’s combination of gs with all kinds of ornaments is mainly for rhythm. along with his pulsing breathing, thats one of the things that makes him such a driving, rhythmic player. but even for him gs use is not binary; it’s a spectrum. sometimes it’s a softer “kuh” sound, sometimes harder. he sounds great when he uses gs - a flute force of nature.

lots of other players do gs at the top of the first note on a roll (the one before the cut). that really helps to make a roll sound much cleaner. u can do it subtly or harder for emphasis. some players prefer to avoid ‘layering’ gs with other ornaments, preferring to leave things like cuts to have more subtle texture.

for me, one of the great things about irish flute is that different people’s playing has such variety. aoiffe granville does tonguing not gs and she sounds terrific.

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Couldn’t agree more!

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Ben--
Conal O‘Grada employs a wide range of glottals, from a ’ha‘ to a strong glottal stop. He writes in his tutor that he doesn’t use them with taps (his term for taps is pats), but he certainly uses them with cuts. Here are some notes on what different players say they use: Steph Geremia uses a ’ha‘. This suits her lyrical style of playing very well; Kirsten Allstaff, on her OAIM lesson series on reels, uses a very strong ’ka‘ (i.e. above the glottis and the uvular region); Shannon Heaton doesn’t use glottals but uses diaphragm pulses, including on the tap part of rolls when it gives a back beat kick. She also uses ’duh’ articulations (i.e. tonguing) occasionally to break up two repeat notes in jigs; Brad Hurley sometimes uses glottals to close a note as well as to start one (I think that probably many other players do this also). And as you know, many players don’t use glottals at all, e.g. June McCormack. Perhaps someone else can comment on this: I believe I read somewhere that Harry Bradley didn’t use glottals but used breath pulses instead. I assume this means diaphragm pulses but am not sure.
In contrast to many others, I don’t see any harm in obsessing over glottals when you’re just starting with them, but I would prefer to substitute ‘careful listening both to your own productions and those of others’ for ‘obsessing’.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

I think Conal O’Grada also varies the amount of air released a lot. From mainly subtle fast stops as in the section of his link that Kenny mentioned to the blasts of air on the last two notes of that clip.

For me those last two notes highlight how different a glottal stop is to ‘front of the tongue’ tonguing.

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Conal O’Grada - book amazing - and he uses glottal articulation extensively.

I think the “stop” in “glottal stop” is probably a bit misleading. Glottal is more a contraction/pulsing of the air stream for rhythmic emphasis than as emphatic as Ta or Ka tonguing. Conal’s glottals aren’t clipping or breaking (stopping) the airstream so much as drawing and pushing a wave to carry the note.

I’ve heard a few notable fluters demo the effect - minus the flute - by humming through the airstream and you can hear notes being drawn and pushed by the rhythm built up with the throat. Extensive use of glottals is closely aligned with the ‘power playing’ and ‘woody tone’ because it definitely allows the player to package an extra push into notes/phrases.

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

One thing I’ve noticed about glottal stops is that for me at least, it takes a bit more air than fingered or tongue articulations. Maybe it’s because there is also a temptation to use the diaphragm to emphasize the rhythm along with use of glottal stops. At any rate, I seem to need more frequent breaths when I focus on using glottal stops in a tune.

Does anyone else notice this? Breath control is not my strong point on flute, so it may be that I just need to work on this more.

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Gbyrne, thank you so much for clearing that up for me. In my opinion, what you are describing is not a glottal stop at all. If you don’t stop the airflow (the ka) you are providing a pulse of air, but not doing a gs as I understand the technique. I wonder if the op was thinking of what Conal does when he posted.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

It’s taken me until about halfway through this entire thread to decided that this probably refers to flute playing - and I don’t understand most of what people are talking about. A parallel world which I am not mentally equipped to travel through. However, I do sometimes make little vocalizations when hitting my mandolin with a plectrum… like the one the other day when I broke an E string 🙂

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

bit of a misnomer, gs, really, isnt it? it’s more of a point or emphasis - maybe a capital letter or a comma - in an otherwise legato section that gives it some musical form but avoids a dramatic halt in the flow of a tune, i.e. not a full stop / period.

i guess whether u agree with that statement might depend on whether u prefer more of a rhythmic staccato style with more glottal emphasis or a more flowing legato style of playing that uses gs to a lesser extent or in a softer way. u can do pulsing in either style. for me, the best thing is to be able to do both and choose which to do and when to do them.

shame we’re not having the debate in a pub, surrounded by flutes, tunes and a couple of beers.

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

@Edgar Bolton: I sometimes vocalize when tuning my mandolin, usually along the lines of “C’mon, dammit” when the A strings refuse to match.

Flute players are weird though. It’s the only instrument except for maybe whistle where you can only see part of what the player is doing, to learn from. The rest is hidden from view. We can generally figure it out by listening, but there are so many variations, so many things you can do with a mobile tongue front-to-back that it can throw us off sometimes.

What we need are side-on X-ray videos showing what players like Conal O’Grada are doing inside his mouth and throat. Then compare that to Matt Molloy, and so on.

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

A misnomer? But it’s called a glottal stop because the glottis (vocal cord folds) close and *stop* the airflow. It may be brief, but it is a “full stop” of the airflow. Of course, it can be so brief as to not noticeably stop the flow of the tune (any more than a cut or tap does), but it does create a staccato effect.

If you’re a native (and sober) English speaker, you can feel and hear the effect by saying “uh oh.” Your glottis briefly stops the airflow to create two distinct syllables. Same with the word “kitten.” Toddlers and non-native speakers may say “kit ten,” but the rest of us use a glottal stop—“kit’n”—to separate the two syllables. If you place your fingers on your throat, on both sides of the top of your vocal cords, when saying these words, you can feel a slight expansion of the vocal cords. That’s the glottis stopping the airflow.

Ailin’s use of “kuh” isn’t a glottal stop at all but a velar stop, making the “k” sound by stopping the airflow with the back of the tongue. A true glottal stop does not involve the tongue.

So some fluters tongue, some use velar stops, and some use glottal stops. No doubt some people use all three (or none of the above). As Conical says, we can’t see what’s going on inside their throats and mouths, so it’s hard to know for certain. And some fluters may think and claim that they’re doing glottal when they’re actually doing velar (and perhaps vice versa).

AB, rather than saying “kuh” to practice glottal stops, I’d suggest blowing a long tone and repeating “uh oh” to find that feeling of closing the glottis and stopping the airflow. It takes a bit of coordination, and you want to keep your tongue utterly relaxed, but you’ll soon know what it feel like and be able to hear the stoppage. Then you can work on placing it in phrases. I use both velar and glottal stops mostly to give extra crispness to the start of a note (especially when changing octaves or hitting a note that might otherwise not start cleanly), and also to separate two notes of the same pitch (often also playing a cut or tap between those two notes).

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Gimpy, you are right. Uh with a slight cough is correct. Ka is a variation, but not a true glottal stop. It aims for a similar effect, however, unlike a pulse of air originating from the diaphragm. While rhythmic, it is provides emphasis and pulse, as opposed to a staccato push. Very different sound.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Why not agree what a glottal stop is its more usual, linguistic, context (start here maybe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glottal_stop ) then decide if it’s what particular flute players do. Kuh doesn’t come into it.

I understand it in the way gimpy and cac talk about it.

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

didnt appreciate the technical difference, gimpy. interesting and good to know, tx!

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Apparently I remembered something useful from my college linguistics class 40 years ago, where we learned all about glottal and velar stops, and bilabial fricatives…. 😀

Ailin, both glottal and velar stops cut off the airflow, which for both is supplied by the support of the diaphragm. Both are “plosive”—a stop followed by a release or burst of air. You can make either one subtle or dramatic, depending on how much air you releasee and how softly or forcefully you do it. In short, it can be very difficult to distinguish the sound of a glottal vs. a velar stop. The difference is in the mechanics of how each is produced. But both create a pulse of air, supported by the diaphragm, released into the mouth and directed through the embouchure.

When I said “staccato” above, I meant it in the sense that the stop itself is distinct. How “staccato” or crisp it makes the notes around it varies. You can do a glottal or velar stop to start a note, but hold the note itself any length of time. In other words, the notes don’t have be played staccato just because you’ve used a stop before (or even after) them.

Glottal and velar stops are done for the same reason we use cuts and taps to initiate or separate notes: they’re all percussive tools to create and punctuate pulse. Pure legato playing, with no plosives or finger articulations (beyond fingering the notes) would have very little pulse. Both glottal and velar stops allow the fluter to use breath pressure and release to emphasize that pulse (up to and including “barking” the note on the release) in ways that cuts and taps, on their own, cannot replicate. (Yes, you can pulse your breath while doing a cut or tap for a similar effect, but the cut or tap itself isn’t plosive.)

As such, glottal and velar stops are different from tonguing, which in the broader flute world typically IS used to play notes staccato. Kevin Crawford and others who do tongued triplets are doing staccato. But I say typically because some Irish fluters (and whistlers) do soft tonguing (more duh that tuh) to punctuate pulse and separate same-pitch note pairs, not to play the notes staccato. In other words, some Irish fluters tongue in place of glottal and velar stops, and sometimes in place of cuts and taps. Again, some fluters use all of these techniques, while some favor certain methods over others.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

I should add…sometimes with fluters you CAN hear the difference between a glottal vs. velar stop. You may hear the “uh” or “kuh” vocalized. At its most blatant, the “uh” may sound like the low grunt a chimp makes, while the “kuh” has a bit brighter, more brittle sound. Be aware that the burst of air across the embouchure hole, produced by either kind of stop, often sounds bright as well because it briefly overblows the pitch. But that’s different, and occurs a nanosecond later, than the crack of the “k.”

You can mimic the difference—to give yourself a clearer sense of what to listen for—by saying “uh oh” a few times, using the usual glottal stop to separate the syllables, and then say “uh koh” a few times, and listen for the bright “crack” at the start of the “k” sound.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

“2 words - Conal O’Grada.”
😀
https://ibb.co/R4yMDqq

Thanks everyone who brought up Conal. My obsession is very well fed, especially with his workshop recordings. Next I will be purchasing his tutor.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

FWIW I don’t think he plays cranns on flute at all.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

I appreciate the Pure Drop recording, Kenny. ;

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

I may need to pick up another candle. Or a pack of them.
Seriously, I’m considering Mary Bergin’s workshop in less than 2 weeks.
http://irishmusicschool.org/master-workshops
Seems to be a great time to focus on some remarkable opportunities.

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Still one of the best renditions of Irish traditional music played on flute I ever heard - I’ll leave you to debate it yourselves :
https://youtu.be/nr6-JQGaUNc

This track may not be widely known because it appeared on Colm Murphy’s “An Bodhran” CD, and who buys bodhran CDs, right ? It’s a great recording altogether.
The whole album does seem to be available on “iTunes”.

PS - this whole subject has been discussed before in 4 separate threads - this one below has 144 replies. I don’t think much more is being added here to what went before.
https://thesession.org/discussions/38697

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Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Probably not but I see this post from last night, referring mainly to gimpy’s, didn’t ‘take’ so here is it.

I wonder if this is something less obvious to people who’s accent doesn’t make much use of glottal stops.

For me yhaalhouse’s post above about Londoners using them for the ‘T’ sound says it all. I don’t think there can be a way of imitating a Cockney’s “butter” without doing a glottal stop. But you have to have heard it first. I don’t speak that way and it was only from that Wikipedia page that I realised I do use one for “kitten”. But are those examples much use for someone who says ‘budder’ and ‘kidden’? The problem for me with “uh oh” is that some people put a bit of a grunt in. For some people a cough puts attention on the bronchial tubes rater than the part that is doing the stopping and releasing.

I think the hard part may be bad descriptions for getting started. Once started improved control is just another thing that improves with practice, like embouchure. Until I found the internet I didn’t realise it as hard.

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

The name Fahy said by an Irish accented person sounds like it has a glottal stop in in.
To me it sounds like a Londoner saying ‘fatty’!

Re: glottal obsession ~ one is too many & 100’s not enough…gonna burn my candle at both ends.

Thanks for everyone who contributed to the discussion. Kenny, you were absolutely right that Conal O’Grada’s workshops are very good. I consider him an excellent mentor. Just going through the 2 workshops I learnt so much. I’ll go through them again and again & keep learning. I definitely will be getting his tutor.

I posted a photo from the workshop up above. I thought someone would ask what he was demonstrating.
But since no one asked you must have it sorted. You’re a quick lot.

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