I had my Skype session with Robert this morning; I got Skype to work on my iPad and redeemed my meager technology credibility. Phew! Robert answered all the questions I had come up with, his information was really helpful and he couldn’t have been nicer.
At the beginning of the piece the choir plays a lot of harmonics while singing. Robert had a clever method to practice this: play the harmonic pitches one at a time, then add the voice to each one. Once this is comfortable then they can be strung together in a series.
I wanted his advice on articulations for the sections with residual tone. He said the way to get the best residual tone was to blow “fffffffff” into the embouchure, and roll the flute out the longer you play them so you don’t get a pitch. Sometimes he has it marked as a sfz, that should be tongued to get the explosion of sound. Other residuals marked piano should just be articulated with a “hooo” sound.
In the last section of the piece we all play a lot of multiphonics. I double-checked my notated fingerings with Robert, because I couldn’t get one of them to sound correctly. it turns out that I wasn’t reading his notation (see right) correctly: the “c” means that you depress the key but leave the hole uncovered. Previously everyone in our group had thought this meant to half hole the key. It worked like a charm, and now I can play Ab and Bb at the same time!
And I took Cecilia’s advice to heart and asked him about the whistle tones. He repeated that it takes daily practice to get these right, and he also confessed that he was out of shape for them! He suggested trying them using a high B-natural fingering, previously I’ve been using a low D. He said the type of air needed for them should feel warm if you blew it on the back of your hand. And he zoomed into his webcam so I could see his embouchure close up. I’ll have to give these a try, so glad I asked!