All right, I’m sure you all knew a dorky post about flutes was coming at some point (since I am here to be doing work after all) so, here it is!
Four times a semester, the flute professor at UNAM (with whom I am studying and who will hereafter be referred to as Alejandro) does a themed session open to all students, faculty, people in the community, etc. that are interested in attending. The first session was last Tuesday and was about the larger and lesser-known instruments of the flute family: the alto flute, bass flute, flauta de pico, the glissando mouthpiece, and the CONTRABASS flute.
Alejandro asked me to play some excerpts from pieces for alto flute so I did and that went pretty well. Then, the guest artist for the flauta de pico (recorder) talked about her instrument, which is a Paetzold bass recorder (either in C or F, I’m not sure). This instrument is amazing! It is played with a mouthpiece and has a wide variety of sound possibilities. In recent years, it has become attractive to contemporary composers because of its flexibility and the fact that it works very well with electronics. The sound is quite low and is usually amplified. Here is a picture:
And here is a link to a piece for Paetzold flutes and electronics:
Afterwards, Alejandro talked about and introduced the bass flute to the audience. I really like the bass flute and have played it before, but it definitely hurts my wrists after a short period of time–it’s pretty heavy!
Then he introduced the contrabass flute–ridiculously cool. As you can imagine, it is quite low and also needs to be played with amplification in order to be heard. Solo literature does not really exist for this instrument, though pieces for contrabass flute and electronics can be found.
Finally, Alejandro demonstrated the glissando headjoint, invented by flutist and pedagogue Robert Dick. There is a portion of the headjoint that the flutist can slide while playing to alter the pitches higher or lower. Interestingly enough, it does not alter each pitch the same amount: some pitches can be altered about two whole steps in either direction while others can just be altered by about a step. I’m no physicist, but I’m pretty sure this has to do with the construction of the instrument and how much of the instrument is closed/opened depending on what keys are being pressed.
And finally, here is a link to Robert Dick demonstrating this mouthpiece: