Tuesday 1 March 2011

Tune of the Day: A Man Who Would Woo a Fair Maid

 from “The Yeoman of the Guard”, arranged for Flute and Piano

Here is another arrangement for flute and piano from Gilbert and Sullivan's 1888 opera The Yeoman of the Guard. This trio was originally sung in Act II by Colonel Fairfax (who sings the lower part at the beginning), Elsie and Phoebe.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Opera excerptsDifficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 2 March 2011

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

 from Partita in E major for solo violin

Johann Sebastian Bach's Partita No. 3 for Violin, BWV 1006, was originally written in 1720, but at some point the composer transcribed it for solo lute (a sort of “baroque guitar”), and that version is now known as BWV 1006a. In either version, the first of the seven movements, simply marked “Preludio”, is undoubtedly the most famous. Bach himself also transcribed it for solo organ, oboes, trumpets and strings in the opening sinfonia of the cantata Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV 29 in D major, and used it as an introduction to the second part of the cantata Herr Gott, Beherrscher aller Dinge, BWV 120a, as well. On the flute, the movement is usually played in the key of A major, and at a very fast pace (just like violinists do).

Thanks to Benita for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Baroque Show-off piecesDifficulty: advanced
Thursday 3 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Spirituoso by Telemann

 from Canonic Sonata for Two Flutes No. 3

This is the first movement from Georg Philipp Telemann's third Canonic Sonata for two flutes. It is marked “Spirituoso”, which could simply be translated as “spirited”, or “lively”. It starts off with a brilliant theme in D major, then modulates to A major and B minor in the central section before the return of the theme. As with all canons, both players can play from the same part.

Thanks to Béa for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Baroque Canons SonatasDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 4 March 2011

Tune of the Day: The Wild Rover

 Traditional folk song

“The Wild Rover” is one of the the most widely performed Irish song ever, and yet its exact origins are unknown. In fact, it may not even be Irish. According to some scholars, the song has its origins in Scotland or England, and was originally written as a temperance song. Today, however, “The Wild Rover” is usually considered to be a drinking song, and a staple for artists performing live music in Irish pubs.

The song has been popular since at least the early 19th century, and made a storming comeback in the folk revival in the 1960s. Today, the chorus is sung by football fans throughout England, usually with the words adapted to suit the team in question, and is generally well known throughout the English-speaking world, even among people who have no knowledge of the rest of the song.

Saturday 5 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Allegro by Bach

 from Flute Sonata in G minor

The Sonata in G minor, BWV 1020, is traditionally attributed to Bach, but it is almost certainly not a work by J.S. Bach; it may, however, have been composed by his son C.P.E. Bach. The originally intended ensemble seems to be flute and harpsichord, but the work is commonly performed on both flute and violin. Anyways, this is an elegant piece of late-Baroque chamber music, and it is not put to any shame by the six unquestionably authentic flute sonatas by J.S. Bach.

The opening movement of this sonata presents no tempo indication in Urtext editions, but it is generally considered to be an Allegro. The entirety of the opening theme is given to the harpsichord as a solo; when the flute enters some bars later, the music briefly takes on a more spacious form, but soon the energetic theme creeps back in.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Baroque Sonatas Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Sunday 6 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

 American hymn tune

The 18th-century hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is usually set to an American folk tune known as “Nettleton”, composed by printer John Wyeth, or possibly by Asahel Nettleton, from whom the tune takes its name. This tune was used extensively in partial or full quotation by the American composer Charles Ives, in such works as the First String Quartet and the piano quintet and song “The Innate”.

The song has gained a degree of popularity in recent years, in large part due to an arrangement by composer Mack Wilberg, which appears at the end of the BYU Choirs concert A Thanksgiving of American Folk Hymns, recorded in 1994, which is rebroadcast annually by hundreds of PBS affiliates.

Thanks to Jenny for suggesting this tune!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Hymn tunesDifficulty: easy
Monday 7 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Fantasia for Solo Flute No. 11

 by Georg Philipp Telemann

Telemann's eleventh Fantasia for solo flute is made up of three movements in the key of G major. The opening Allegro is a concerto-like virtuoso piece. It is followed by a five-note Adagio, whose second bar is incomplete in the original manuscript. This has led many modern editors to complete the bar themselves, and one may even play a full cadenza there, but a skillfully-played sudden interruption may work equally well. The Adagio is followed by a cheerful Vivace, which finally leaves place to a lively binary-form Allegro in 6/4 time.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Baroque Fantasias Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Tuesday 8 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Adagio by Bach

 from Flute Sonata in G minor

Here is the second movement from the Sonata in G minor for flute and harpsichord, BWV 1020, usually attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach or to his son Carl Philipp Emanuel. In this Adagio, the flute sings a melody that grows from many long-held tones, while the harpsichord provides a steady eighth-note accompaniment.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Baroque Sonatas Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 9 March 2011

Tune of the Day: The Foggy Dew

 Traditional Irish march

This is a very old Irish rebel song going back to the Irish War of Independence. The lyrics, which deal with the Easter Uprising of 1916, were written by Charles O’Neill, a parish priest at Kilcoo and later Newcastle, County Down, in 1919. The melody is apparently based on an old traditional Irish song called “The Banks of Moorlough Shore”.

The Foggy Dew has been recorded by several leading Irish performers, including Luke Kelly, The Wolfe Tones and The Dubliners. Sinead O’Connor and The Chieftains also recorded a slow, beautifully haunting version of the song.

Thursday 10 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Andante e spiccato, by A. Marcello

 from Oboe Concerto in D minor

The concerto Alessandro Marcello wrote in D minor for oboe, strings and basso continuo is arguably his best-known work. The Adagio, in particular, has become somewhat famous due to its appearances in many films. Today we present the first movement of this Concerto, which was first published around 1717. It is marked “Andante e spiccato”, with reference to the bowing technique used by the strings, but it also goes by the name “Allegro moderato” in some editions. Pay close attention to articulation when playing this piece.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Baroque ConcertosDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 11 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Ave Verum Corpus

 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, arranged for Flute and Piano

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed his final motet “Ave verum corpus” in the spring of 1791 for a schoolmaster in Baden near Vienna. He composed it while in the middle of writing his opera The Magic Flute, and while visiting his wife Constanze, who was pregnant with their sixth child and staying in a spa near Baden.

Setting the Catholic communion hymn for four-part chorus, strings, and organ in a simple yet sublime 46 bars, this was Mozart's last completed sacred work, as he did not live long enough to complete his Requiem. He died less than six months later, in December 1791.

Thanks to Brenda for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Choruses ClassicalDifficulty: easy
Saturday 12 March 2011

Tune of the Day: The Rio Grande

 Traditional sea shanty

Sung mainly when heaving up anchor, “The Rio Grande” was one of the most popular sea shanties. It has been suggested that it refers to the famous river on the border between Texas and Mexico. It seems clear, however, that it was first sung in the Brazil trade and was inspired by the port and province of Rio Grande do Sul. Usually known succinctly as “Rio Grande”, the southern Brazilian province and its chief port, of the same name, carried on a busy trade with the United States and Britain.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Sea shanties Traditional/FolkDifficulty: easy
Sunday 13 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Allegro by Bach

 from Flute Sonata in G minor

Here is the third and final movement of the Flute Sonata in G minor traditionally attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach. This last movement is marked “Allegro” just like the first movement, but it is usually played a little bit faster. It is characterized by a rather peculiar repeated-note motif, which is introduced by the harpsichord at measure 36, and which is then taken up by the flute at measure 42.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Baroque Sonatas Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Monday 14 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Che soave zeffiretto

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

This duettino (short duet) is taken from act 3 of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro. In the opera, Countess Almaviva dictates to Susanna a love letter to Almaviva's husband, Count Almaviva, in a plot to expose his infidelity.

This arrangement for flute duet is from a German edition which was published in Bonn in 1799, only 13 years after 1784, when Le nozze di Figaro was composed.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Classical Opera excerptsDifficulty: intermediate
Tuesday 15 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Captain Campbell

 Traditional Scottish strathspey

This is a very popular strathspey from Scotland. A strathspey is a type of dance tune in 4/4 time, very stately and containing many dotted rhythms. It is generally played quickly, and is traditionally followed by a reel.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Celtic Music Strathspeys Traditional/FolkDifficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 16 March 2011

Tune of the Day: None But the Lonely Heart

 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, arranged for flute and piano

“None but the lonely heart” is the last of the Six Romances for voice and piano that Tchaikovsky composed in late 1869. It is probably Tchaikovsky's most famous song, and one of his most popular compositions. It was composed to Lev Mei's poem “The Harpist's Song”, which in turn was translated from Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. Tchaikovsky's setting makes use of a syncopated chordal accompaniment; the lack of rhythmic grounding and the peculiar harmonies perfectly highlight the restless, disquieted tone of Goethe's text.

Thanks to Phil for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Lieder RomanticDifficulty: intermediate
Thursday 17 March 2011

Tune of the Day: 79th's Farewell to Gibraltar

 Scottish March by Pipe Major John MacDonald

“The finest pipe march ever written”, as it has been called, was composed by Pipe Major John MacDonald in 1848, upon the occasion of the regiment's receiving orders to leave their post in Gibraltar. The 79th was originally supposed to have gone to the West Indies, a post notorious for its unhealthy climate and the inordinate amount of casualties due to fever, but at the last minute the regiment was posted to Canada due to the fortuitous intervention of the Secretary of State (who happened to be the commanding officer's brother). As reported by David Murray in Music of the Scottish Regiments, the title may have been somewhat “tongue in cheek, as the transport lay off Gibraltar for some days, delayed by contrary winds”. Formed in 1793, he 79th Regiment was known as the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders until 1961, when it was merged with the Seaforth Highlanders to form the Queen's Own Highlanders.

Thanks to Ronald for suggesting this tune!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Celtic Music Marches Military musicDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 18 March 2011

Tune of the Day: O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn

 from Mozart's opera “The Magic Flute”, arranged for flute and piano

“O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn” (“Tremble not, my dear son”) is the first aria performed by the Queen of the Night in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute. It is not as well known as the Queen's second aria, “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen”, though no less demanding. In fact, this aria requires a soprano with great vocal flexibility and extremely high tessitura: going up to high F is normal for a flute, not so for the human voice!

This aria is one of the first numbers of Act I. In the preceding scene, Prince Tamino is shown a portrait of the Queen's daughter Pamina, and falls instantly in love with her. The Queen then makes a dramatic entrance, marked “Allegro maestoso”; she quiets Tamino's fears and attempts to befriend him. The three parts of the Queen's discourse are set as musically separate items, each marked by a change in key: after the recitative, the first part of the aria is a Larghetto in G minor, while the second part goes back to B-flat major. It is in this last part that the music reaches a high level of virtuosity for the soloist.

Thanks to Pablo for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Arias Classical Opera excerptsDifficulty: intermediate
Saturday 19 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Kalinka

 Russian folk song

This song was written in 1860 by the Russian composer, writer and folklorist Ivan Petrovich Larionov, and first performed as part of a theatrical entertainment that he had composed. Soon it was added to the repertory of a folk choral group, and rapidly became one of the most popular folk songs in Russia. The refrain of the song refers to the kalinka, which is the snowball tree, and is usually played with an accelerating tempo.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Traditional/FolkDifficulty: easy
Sunday 20 March 2011

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

 from J.S. Bach's Flute Sonata in E minor

This Allegro is the second movement of Bach's Sonata No. 5 for flute and basso continuo. It is based on a burbling flute melody over a descending bass figure; the bass line soon levels out, but it has already started to pull the melody in a downward slide. The flute indulges in rapid passagework, in which Bach seems to forget that flutists have to breathe: starting at measure 40, there's a passage of 130 consecutive sixteenth-notes without a break!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Baroque Sonatas Written for FluteDifficulty: advanced
Monday 21 March 2011

Tune of the Day: The Muckin' O' Geordie's Byre

 Traditional Scottish jig

According to The Fiddler's Companion, there is some evidence that the original of this tune is from the Hebrides Islands, originally used for the song “Eilean Mo Chridhe”. One of the modern versions of the song goes:

Siccin a sotter was a' body in
Five mile awa ye could hear the din
Even the vera coo had tae grin
At the muckin' o' Geordie's byre.

Scottish singer and entertainer Andy Stewart used to sing this piece with an amusing break in which he translated part of the song into stereotypical English:

Oh such a stramash was there to see,
Five miles away you could hear the melee
Even the domesticated animals were consumed with glee,
At he cleansing of George's cowshed.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Celtic Music Jigs Traditional/FolkDifficulty: easy
Tuesday 22 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Allegro by Mozart

 from Sonata No. 5 in C major

Today's piece is the first movement of Mozart's Sonata No. 5 for flute (or violin) and piano, K. 14. The eight-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart received a commission for the sonatas K. 10–15, Op. 3, from Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of King George III of the United Kingdom, while he was in London with his family.

Thanks to Rachel for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Classical SonatasDifficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 23 March 2011

Tune of the Day: La Russe

 Traditional country dance

This English country dance tune was originally part of a quadrille set, dating it to the 1830s or 1840s, although it has become an accepted single-figure set dance in itself. The tune is in two parts, the first in G major the second in D major.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Dance tunes Traditional/FolkDifficulty: easy
Thursday 24 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Andante from Brandenburg Concerto No. 4

 by Johann Sebastian Bach, arranged for flute trio

This is the central movement of Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, a plaintive and beautifully relaxed 3/4-time Andante in D minor. In the original scoring, this movement is played by three soloists (a recorder, an oboe and a violin) against a simple continuo accompaniment.

Many thanks to Joyce Kai for contributing this arrangement for three flutes!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Baroque ConcertosDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 25 March 2011

Tune of the Day: The Atholl Highlanders

 Traditional Scottish march

This 6/8-time march, sometimes described as a Scottish warpipes melody, is dedicated to the private army of the Duke of Atholl, the last private army still legally existing in the British Isles. As noted by George Emmerson in his book Rantin' Pipe and Tremblin' String, this tune contains a characteristic melodic cliché in Scottish music in which a figure is followed by the same or a related figure on the triad one tone below or above.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Celtic Music Jigs Marches Traditional/FolkDifficulty: intermediate
Saturday 26 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Swan Lake Waltz

 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, arranged for solo flute

This Waltz is taken from Act I of Tchaikovsky's famous ballet Swan Lake, and is one of the most wonderful musical numbers in the ballet. The piece is mainly in the key of A major, with a central passage in F major. It starts with a descending pizzicato scale in the strings, after which a typical waltz bass is set up. Then, at measure 19, the beautiful main theme makes its entrance.

Thanks to Béatrice for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Ballet excerpts RomanticDifficulty: intermediate
Sunday 27 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Kate Dalrymple

 Traditional Scottish reel

The melody to this traditional Scottish reel, which is based on an ancient folk-tune, was first published in 1750 under the title “The New Highland Laddie”. There are accompanying words, written by William Watt (1792−1859), and as a song the piece becomes something of a tongue-twister for those unfamiliar with the Scots language.

This tune is used by the BBC as the theme music for the BBC Radio Scotland dance music program Take the Floor.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Celtic Music Reels Traditional/FolkDifficulty: intermediate
Monday 28 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Light Cavalry Overture

 by Franz von Suppé, arranged for solo flute

Leichte Kavallerie, or Light Cavalry, is an operetta by Austrian composer Franz von Suppé, first performed in 1866. While much of the operetta remains in relative obscurity, the overture is one of von Suppé's most well-known pieces. Many orchestras have the piece in their repertoire, and the main theme of the overture (which is introduced at measure 62) has been quoted numerous times by musicians, cartoons and other media.

Thanks to Brenda for suggesting this piece!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Opera excerpts Show-off piecesDifficulty: intermediate
Tuesday 29 March 2011

Tune of the Day: The Dashing White Sergeant

 Scottish folk dance tune

“The Dashing White Sergeant” is the name of a Scottish social (céilidh) dance. The tune is derived from a song of the same name, written by English composer, conductor and arranger Sir Henry Rowley Bishop, and was published in the mid-1820s. Apparently the song was to be part of one of Bishop's operas, although there is no evidence it ever actually made it into one.

Perhaps because of its title, the tune was quick to enter British military repertoire as a march; the melody was soon adapted for dancing, however, becoming nearly as popular in America as it was in England. It also became a favorite at West Point Military Academy, where it is still played during commencement week.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Celtic Music Dance tunes Reels Traditional/FolkDifficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 30 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Allegro II by Mozart

 from Sonata No. 5 in C major

Here is the second movement of Mozart's youth sonata in C major for flute or violin. Although packed full with grace notes, this Allegro is a little calmer than the first one, and is in ternary (ABA) form.

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Classical SonatasDifficulty: intermediate
Thursday 31 March 2011

Site update: Happy Birthday Again, flutetunes.com

Today flutetunes.com turns two years old!

Another year, another 365 tunes. Hope you liked them!

We receive many messages of congratulations, mostly anonymous, and we would like to thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts and comments with us! Let us share a message we received last week from one of our visitors:

I want to thank all of you who run flutetunes.com, because it is such a wonderful help to budding musicians, who are learning to develop skills such as sight-reading, and every thing a flutist could possibly need. You have helped many become wonderful flutists on their own, and have acted almost as well as a teacher could.

And now, back to work... more Bach sonatas and Mozart duets are on their way!

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Thursday 31 March 2011

Tune of the Day: Fantasia for Solo Flute No. 12

 by Georg Philipp Telemann

Here is another miniature gem from the Baroque era, Telemann's twelfth and last Fantasia for Solo Flute. This Fantasia is in the key of G minor, and starts off with a slow Grave written in an almost vocal style, that soon leaves place to a lively Allegro; the two tempos alternate a couple times before introducing a “sweet” Dolce built on arpeggios and slow large intervals. Another short Allegro makes its appearance before culminating in the final Presto, written in the style of a bourrée.

With this piece, we now have all of the Telemann Fantasias!

Bookmark and ShareCategories: Baroque Fantasias Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate