We flutists have something very beautiful to share with the world. Our sound. It is a personal business card and distinguishes us from other flutists. As much as we can try to imitate our teachers, mentors or idols, our sound will be unique to us. So let us spend some time to unfold its full potential. Today we are going to look at our sound in relation to gravity.
Sound and gravity
Our center of gravity should be beneath our diaphragm. Have you ever thought about that? Where is yours? I am asking you, adding a new part to the total system (body and flute) could change its location. In other words, I often see my students shift it to somewhere in front of them. Therefore, they try to reach it by stretching their neck in the
direction of the music stand.
However, the above mentioned shifting of the gravity center leads to poor posture. Especially the bending of the air column will negatively affect their sound quality. Therefore, I propose a unique exercise to get your center of gravity inside your body. Furthermore, it will be closer to your support and engine of your sound. After that, the imagination of it in the right place will boost your energy.
In order to do that we should align our center with our movements. This will automatically happen when, while playing you start kneeling down. Like a slow squad! However, do not raise your heals from the ground. In other words, the whole bottom of your feet should remain attached to the ground while you perform the controlled downward movement.
Are you able to do that without tipping over? Slowly and steadily bend your knees and do not stop playing. You might consider playing something you know by heart so you can concentrate on the sound, instead of reading the music. In fact, the sound should remain stable and steady. Continue to play beautifully smooth while you move.
This works best when you play a piece which has a lot of legato passages.
We are not finished yet, my friends! Now comes the interesting part. When you are completely descended, still on your feet, you feel your back stretch and elongate. Moreover, you might feel your shoulder blades divide and make space. All this space can now be filled with air! Therefore, you have gained some liters. Be sure, you do not lose them in the front chest part though. In other words, feel your chest and abdomen expand against your knees. Feel the resistance and enjoy your energy.
Can you still play beautifully in this uncomfortable position? Just wait, until you can play comfortably again and see how much your sound improved! Slowly move up again and continue playing.
Can you hear and feel the difference now?
If this is hard for you, try the squad exercise without playing at first!
This exercise combines two important factors. Moving up and down you re-align your gravity center and learn how to stand in a stable and supportive position. Moreover, when you are at the lowest point you increase your breathing support and make more space for air and resonance.
Therefore, have fun dancing with gravity and defying it. You will learn to use the correlation of sound and gravity it to your advantage!
Going fishing – sound and gravity
Imagine throwing the bait into a still pond of water. The moment it hits the surface is a very precise instant when energy causes waves and the plumb goes further down.
This is exactly how a beautiful flute sound begins. Apart from rare cases where you wish to start in a tapering way, this image should be on your mind, when you study a clear, precise sound. It is the moment of change, between silence and sound. The moment when the lead attached to the bait changes its world from air to water. It causes even waves and energy to be carried away from the point. If the attack of the sound is not clear, the waves will be uneven and messy, the sound does not arrive pure and clean.
Throw your bait – start a sound
So what does that mean for us? Throwing the bait is an action you have to take before it hits the water. In the same way, we have to think about the sound first and prepare our support system. Our body has to be launched into the position of resonance and momentum. Only with a clean launch may a clean sound occur.
Never play without preparing. Your imagination and experience is precious, do not waste it on unclear playing. Therefore, either focus and play or rest and imagine.
But the fishing analogy has so much more to offer. Can you imagine the lead going down slower now, because the water puts up resistance, but its gravity is remains?
The core of a sound is like the plumb going down, emanating energy which is perceived as sound.
Set of pulleys – developing a sound
Now we have learned how to prepare a clean start of your sound. After that, we should think about how to develop and maintain it. To that end, it is very useful to imagine the plumbs decent in the water. But attaching it to a pulley and pulling something else up. However, the upward motion should only be seen as a result of the downward movement of the lead piece.
In other words, as you throw the bait and push down the plumb drop, automatically your airflow moves upwards in a controlled and productive way. As gravity pulls down, energy rises. Moreover, this concept helps you to activate the support and air system as a natural result. By imagining a gravity center of lead that pulls down, air will flow up, but you can control it and no longer waste any of it.
Don’t forget the new space that is created by the actual sound and gravity squads and use all of it when developing your sound.
Perls on a string – finish a sound
After attacking the sound and maintaining it we also need to close it in the same precise way. The center of the sound should be with a downward drive, heavy small center made of lead, that expands and sends rays of sound that have the power to carry far in a distinct and organized way.
After that, we need to round them up and finish in an equally organized and clean manner. As a result, we will be creating perfect little spheres and be back in silence.
However, those powerful lead spheres can also be imagined as pearls on a string with the silence being the line on which those pearls are ordered.
In conclusion, this image is another very powerful tool in your mental preparation.
Improve your sound with gravity
Each one of the above described exercises with the correlated images is on its own an effective trick to unfold the full potential of your sound. However, you are free to add your own or change and embellish the provided ones.
Furthermore, you might need to adapt the ones provided to different situations, especially when adding dynamics. Sound and gravity is a useful image in providing a pearl necklace of sound to your audiance, but it doesn’t cover the aspects of transitioning through the range of dynamics that the flute offers.
Should you be interested in improving the quality of the very effective expression tool that is dynamics, you can read our correlated article here.
It provides other powerful images that you can use to have more cards in your hands. Above all, you should choose images that have a strong impact on you so that it will transform your posture and support system the most productive way to create a beautiful sound.
Let your color palette vibrate
Another special element that you can use when it comes to sound quality is vibrato. So far we have written two articles on the topic that you can find by clicking on the following links.
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In addition, we would be very interested what your ideas are on sound and gravity. What do you imagine to create a clean start and finish of your notes? How do you maintain your energy coming through your air flow? What do you imagine to control your airflow?
Please share your answers in the comment section below! They might help and inspire other users of topflute.