Saturday 1 October 2011

Tune of the Day: The Contradiction Reel

 Traditional Irish/Scottish reel

According to fiddler Paul Cranford, “The Contradiction” is a 19th-century Irish-American title for an older tune by the Scottish composer William Marshall, who published it in 1800 as a three-part setting. The fourth part (the one with the large intervals, which is actually the third part in modern settings) was apparently added in the 1883 Boston publication Ryan's Mammoth Collection, and repeated by Francis O'Neill at the beginning of the 20th century.

In recent times, you may have heard this tune played on the fiddle by Máiréad Nesbitt of Celtic Woman.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Celtic Music Reels Traditional/FolkDifficulty: intermediate
Sunday 2 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Nocturne in D-flat major

 by Frédéric Chopin, arranged for solo flute

The Nocturne in D flat major, Op. 27/2, is one of Chopin's most graceful essays in fioritura ornamentation. The opening melody will be familiar to many who nevertheless cannot identify it by name, since it has occasionally been featured in popular culture, such as in the 1977 James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me, where it is cleverly used in conjunction with deep-sea imagery.

Thanks to Luca for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Nocturnes RomanticDifficulty: advanced
Monday 3 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Porgi, amor

 from Mozart's “The Marriage of Figaro”, arranged for two flutes

Appearing at the beginning of Act II, this is the first aria sung by the Countess in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. She is very sad, and worried about her husband's infidelity.

O Love, give me some remedy
For my sorrow, for my sighs!
Either give me back my darling
Or at least let me die.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Arias Classical Opera excerptsDifficulty: intermediate
Tuesday 4 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Study in A major by Köhler

 from “Progress in Flute Playing”

Here is étude No. 14 from the first book of Ernesto Köhler's Progress in Flute Playing. It is a study in intervals, mainly in the key of A major but with a calmer central section that starts off in C major but in the end modulates back to A major.

Thanks to Neri for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Etudes Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 5 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Marcha Real

 National anthem of Spain

The Spanish Marcha Real (“Royal March”) is one of the oldest anthems in the world. It first appeared in print as La Marcha Granadera (“March of the Grenadiers”) in the early 1760s, and in 1770 it was selected by King Carlos III to be the official “Honour March” for the Sovereigns and the Royal Family, played at public and ceremonial events. The melody shows no trace of Spanish folk music and it might originally have come from France or Germany; according to some sources, it might even have been composed by Frederick the Great of Prussia.

This is also one of the few national anthems in the world to have no official lyrics, although words have been written and used for it in the past.

Thanks to Uygar for suggesting this tune!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Marches National anthems PatrioticDifficulty: easy
Thursday 6 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Pavane by Saint-Saëns

 arranged for Flute and Piano

This pavane is taken from Act III of the opera Étienne Marcel, composed by Camille Saint-Saëns in 1877–78. The present arrangement for flute and piano was made by the famous French flutist Paul Taffanel.

Thanks to Erika for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Opera excerpts Pavanes RomanticDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 7 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Andante by Köhler

 from Forty Progressive Duets for Two Flutes

Here is a new duet from Ernesto Köhler's Forty Progressive Duets, Op. 55, Volume I. This is a very simple but melodious piece, mainly in the key of C major but with a couple of modulations to G major and A minor.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: easy
Saturday 8 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Presto by J.S. Bach

 from Sonata in G minor for solo violin, transcribed for solo flute

Here is the fourth and last movement of Johann Sebastian Bach's Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001. This Presto finale is a sort of “moto perpetuo” (that is, a piece characterized by a continuous, steady stream of notes) in binary form.

Thanks to Gabriel for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Baroque SonatasDifficulty: intermediate
Sunday 9 October 2011

Tune of the Day: The Roads of Kildare

 Traditional Irish song

This Irish folk song, written by John Duggan, is mostly famous for the 1987 recording by Brian Coll, but has also been recorded by other famous singers such as Daniel O'Donnell and Marie O'Brien. We have kept the original key of B major, hoping that it will make this piece a good sight-reading exercise. If you find it too difficult to read, remember that you can easily transpose the tune to B-flat major by just changing the key signature (remove all the sharps and make the B's and E's flat).

Thanks to Pat for suggesting this song!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Celtic Music Traditional/FolkDifficulty: intermediate
Monday 10 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Rêverie by Debussy

 arranged for Flute and Piano

The original manuscript of Debussy's Rêverie is no longer extant, but scholars agree that the work was composed sometime between 1880 and 1884. As such, it is a milestone, representing the earliest known instance of Debussy working in the “impressionistic” musical vocabulary that eventually became his trademark.

The piece only appeared in print in 1890, when publisher Eugène Fromont issued it from an old manuscript that had been lying about for some time. Surprisingly, Debussy was not satisfied at all with his composition: “I very much regret your decision to publish Rêverie,” he testily wrote to Fromont. “I wrote it in a hurry years ago and purely for commercial purposes. It is a work of no significance and, frankly, I consider it absolutely no good.”

Debussy's low opinion of his Rêverie, however, has not prevented it from taking pride of place among the very best known of his piano works. The piece has been arranged countless times for a wide array of instrumental forces; jazz musicians, in particular, have long known it, and its influence may have helped to shape the harmonic approach of jazz in general.

Thanks to James for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: 20th centuryDifficulty: intermediate
Tuesday 11 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Duet in C minor by Hugues

 from “School of Flute”

Luigi Hugues was an Italian amateur musician of the late 19th century, best known today as a composer and arranger of virtuoso works for the flute. Among his didactic works is “La scuola del flauto” (“The School of the Flute”), a collection of flute duets divided in 4 levels of difficulties. The duet we present today is No. 2 of the second volume.

Thanks to Paolo from Italy for contributing this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 12 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Study in G major by Gariboldi

 from “20 Petites Etudes”

Here is another melodious study from Giuseppe Gariboldi's Vingt petites études, or Twenty Studies. This one covers the G-major scale, fast triplets and large intervals.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Etudes Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Thursday 13 October 2011

Tune of the Day: The Butterfly

 Traditional Irish slip jig

The composition of this slip jig is usually credited to the late fiddler Tommy Potts, who knew the first two parts of the tune from his father, Sean, an Uilleann piper. As the story goes, Potts was working in his garden one day when he noticed the erratic flight of a butterfly flitting about. Intrigued, Potts tried to mimic the rhythm of the insect while he continued to work in the garden, and was inspired to come up with the third part of the tune. The first two existing parts were then altered rhythmically to fit.

The tune is also known among Highland bagpipers as “Skin the Peelers”, peeler being an old slang term for a policeman.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Celtic Music Jigs Traditional/FolkDifficulty: easy
Friday 14 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Rondo by Beethoven

 from Sonata “Pathétique”, arranged for solo flute

This quick cut-time movement in C minor closes Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8, commonly known as Sonata Pathétique because of its tragic sonorities. The Rondo finale is really the second Rondo in the sonata, since the middle movement (Adagio cantabile) also possesses the structural features of that form.

Thanks to Jeffrey for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Romantic Rondos SonatasDifficulty: advanced
Saturday 15 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Du feines Täubchen, nur herein

 from Mozart's “The Magic Flute”, arranged for two flutes

This piece was originally a vocal trio from Act I of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, or The Magic Flute. Sarastro's moorish slave Monostatos is trying to seduce Pamina, when Papageno, sent ahead by Tamino to find Pamina, enters. Monostatos and Papageno are each terrified by the other's strange appearance and both flee the stage, but Papageno soon returns and announces to Pamina that her mother has sent Tamino to her aid.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Classical Opera excerptsDifficulty: intermediate
Sunday 16 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Gigue by J.S. Bach

 from Cello Suite No. 2, transcribed for solo flute

This 3/8-time Gigue constitutes the last movement of Johann Sebastian Bach's Suite in D minor for unaccompanied cello. It is a very agitated piece, characterized by angular rhythms and violent, unrelenting passions.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Baroque JigsDifficulty: intermediate
Monday 17 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Die Gedanken sind frei

 Traditional German folk song

This German song is about freedom of thought, and boasts a lively, catchy tune. The melody first appeared in print at the beginning of the 19th century, but is probably older; the lyrics certainly are, having occurred on leaflets about 1780.

Since the Age of Metternich (early 19th century), “Die Gedanken sind frei” was a popular protest song against political repression and censorship. In Nazi Germany, the song was even proscribed. One night in 1942 Sophie Scholl played the song on her flute outside the walls of Ulm prison where her father Robert had been detained for calling Adolf Hitler a “Scourge of God”.

Pete Seeger recorded the song in 1966 on his Dangerous Songs!? album.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Traditional/FolkDifficulty: easy
Tuesday 18 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Quando me'n vo'

 from Puccini's “La bohème”, arranged for flute and piano

This soprano aria in 3/4 time, also known as “Musetta's Waltz”, is taken from Act 2 of Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème, premiered in 1896. It is sung by the character Musetta in the presence of her bohemian friends, and is directed toward her ex-boyfriend Marcello in order to make him jealous.

When I walk alone in the street
People stop and stare at me,
And everyone looks at my beauty,
Looks at me from head to foot.

Thanks to Luis for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: 20th century Arias Opera excerpts WaltzesDifficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 19 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Duet in C major by Hugues

 from “School of Flute”

Here is another nice duet from La scuola del flauto (The School of the Flute) by Luigi Hugues, this time taken from volume 1.

Thanks to Paolo for contributing this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Thursday 20 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Siciliano by J.S. Bach

 from Sonata in G minor for solo violin, transcribed for solo flute

This gentle Siciliano in B-flat major is the third movement of Johann Sebastian Bach's Sonata in G minor for unaccompanied violin. Ornamentation was fully written out by the composer himself, as was often the case with slow movements in the late Baroque period.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Baroque Sicilianas SonatasDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 21 October 2011

Tune of the Day: After the Ball

 A popular waltz, arranged for flute and piano

This popular waltz was written in 1891 by songwriter Charles K. Harris. In the song, an older man tells his niece why he has never married. He saw his sweetheart kissing another man at a ball, and he refused to listen to her explanation. Many years later, after the woman had died, he discovered that the man was her brother.

“After the Ball” became the most successful song of its era, which at that time was gauged by the sales of sheet music. In 1892 it sold over two million copies of sheet music, and its total sheet music sales exceed five million copies, making it the best seller in Tin Pan Alley's history.

Thanks to Michael from Ireland for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: WaltzesDifficulty: easy
Saturday 22 October 2011

Tune of the Day: My Lady Careys Dompe

 Traditional English dance tune

This English dance tune is believed to have emerged during the first half of the sixteenth century, with some sources dating it back to about 1520. At any rate, this 16th-century tune was most probably played on lute and harpsichord or other keyboard instruments during its heyday. There have been many arrangements of this melody down through the years, and thus recordings of it today often vary widely in sound and style. Artists tend to prefer a harpsichord rendition, with a good many focusing on the exoticisms inherent in the folk qualities of the tune. Incidentally, dompe is 16th-century English term to denote a mournful or plaintive melody or song, as well as a kind of old slow dance.

Thanks to Cidiclei for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Dance tunes Renaissance Traditional/FolkDifficulty: intermediate
Sunday 23 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Moderato by Köhler

 from Forty Progressive Duets for Two Flutes

Here is a new duet from the first volume of Ernesto Köhler's Forty Progressive Duets, Op. 55. In this ternary-form piece the upper voice plays a very simple but graceful melody, while the lower voice is busy playing scales and arpeggios.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: easy
Monday 24 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Prelude by J.S. Bach

 from Cello Suite No. 3, transcribed for solo flute

The Prelude of Johann Sebastian Bach's third suite for unaccompanied cello recalls the discursive improvisatory flavor of the second suite, but opens with a descending figure and a mood of bright sunshine instead of the study in tragedy and tension that the second suite undertakes from the beginning.

The piece consists of an ABAC form, with A being a scale-based movement that eventually dissolves into an energetic arpeggio part. After returning to the scale theme, the prelude ends with a powerful and surprising chord movement.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: BaroqueDifficulty: intermediate
Tuesday 25 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Nous n'irons plus au bois

 Traditional French folk song

The melody of this 18th-century folk song appears to have been inspired by the first notes of the Kyrie from the old Missa de angelis (Mass of the Angels).

The famous French composer Claude Debussy used this tune in at least four of his works, from his song “La Belle au bois dormant”, through the third of his 1894 Images and “Jardins sous la pluie” from Estampes, to “Rondes de printemps” from the orchestral Images.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Nursery rhymes Traditional/FolkDifficulty: easy
Wednesday 26 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Turkish March

 by Ludwig van Beethoven, transcribed for solo flute

This well-known classical theme takes its name from the Turkish style popular in music at the end of the 18th century. The theme was first used in Beethoven's 6 Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 76, of 1809. Two years later, Beethoven wrote an overture and incidental music to a play called The Ruins of Athens, which premiered in Pest in 1812, and the Turkish March appeared as item No. 4 of the incidental music. That's why many music lovers associate the theme with The Ruins of Athens, even though that was not its original appearance.

As you will notice, the dynamic scheme of the march is highly suggestive of a procession passing by, starting out pianissimo, poco a poco rising to a fortissimo climax and then receding back to pianissimo by the coda.

The present transcription mostly follows the piccolo part of Beethoven's orchestral setting.

Thanks to Sunny for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Classical Marches Piccolo tunesDifficulty: intermediate
Thursday 27 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Duet in B-flat major by Hugues

 from “School of Flute”

This duet is No. 3 of the second volume of Luigi Hugues's La scuola del flauto (The School of the Flute). It is a ternary-form Allegro moderato in B-flat major, with a central section in F major.

Thanks to Paolo for contributing this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 28 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Gavotte by Köhler

 from “25 Romantic Studies”

This is the second-to-last étude from Ernesto Köhler's 25 Romantic Studies, Op. 66. It is titled “Gavotte”, like the French folk dance it takes inspiration from. The main technical difficulty of this piece resides in its unusual broken chords, and in the ever-changing accidentals, that require a wise use of the B-flat lever. Also make sure not to hold the eighth notes too long when they are followed by a rest.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Etudes Gavottes Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Saturday 29 October 2011

Tune of the Day: While Strolling Through the Park One Day

 aka “The Fountain in the Park”

This song was first published in 1884 as “The Fountain in the Park” by Ed Haley. However, “Ed Haley” was just a pseudonym of Robert A. King (born Robert Keiser), a prolific American composer and songwriter of popular music who published hundreds of songs under various assumed names for different publishing companies, perhaps as a means of getting around the "exclusivity clause" prevalent in most publishing contracts of the day.

The song has survived through the years in pop culture through its use in plays, musicals, television, and films. It was even sung on the moon by NASA astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan during the Apollo 17 mission, as “I was strolling on the Moon one day”.

Thanks to Brian for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: BalladsDifficulty: easy
Sunday 30 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Flow, My Tears

 by John Dowland, transcribed for flute and keyboard

John Dowland originally composed this lute song (specifically, an “ayre”) in 1596 as an instrumental, under the name “Lachrimae pavane”. It soon became his signature song, literally as well as metaphorically: in fact, the composer occasionally signed his name “Jo. Dolandi de Lachrimae”.

Thanks to Jess for suggesting this song!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: RenaissanceDifficulty: intermediate
Monday 31 October 2011

Tune of the Day: Non più andrai

 from Mozart's “The Marriage of Figaro”, arranged for two flutes

This famous aria appears at the end of Act I of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. The Count Almaviva has ordered the young Cherubino to join his regiment in Seville, and leaves Figaro to cheer up the unhappy adolescent. Figaro sings to Cherubino about his new, harsh military life, from which women will be totally excluded.

You won't go any more, amorous butterfly,
Fluttering around inside night and day
Disturbing the sleep of beauties,
A little Narcissus and Adonis of love.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Arias Classical Opera excerptsDifficulty: intermediate