Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to Play Louder Than a Boy

I've always had a thing against guy flute players. They always win, they're always sitting first chair, they're usually prettier than me...bad news all around. If you think of the top five most famous flute players of all time, chances are you'll come up with James Galway, Emmanuel Pahud, Julius Baker, Marcel Moyse, and Jean-Pierre Rampal with maybe Taffanel and Gaubert as runners-up. All guys. MN orchestra? Adam Kuenzel, guy. Cincinnati Symphony? Randy Bowman, guy. New York Phil? Robert Langevin, guy. Guys, guys, guys! They're everywhere! Eventually that has to change, right? I mean we just elected the first black president, why stop there?
A few years ago in a lesson with Mr. Kuenzel, I was complimented on my breath capacity. Not too shabby coming from a guy who's known as one of the more athletic members of the orchestra! It was true, I could pretty much hold a note forever, but my dynamic range was pretty minimal. This year I've been working on changing that. I can now play approximately sixty times as loud as I could a year ago, and I'm working on extending my air capacity even further just by seeing how long I can go on one breath (yet another Dr. G quote: 'scientific fact: your body can hold 30% more air than you think it can'), but playing loudly is only part of what sets these guys apart.
So what is it about male flute players that makes them so much better than the womenfolk? When my mom asked me the same question earlier, I said 'they're bigger and they're sparklier'. I recently compared three recordings of the same piece, two by somewhat well-known women flute players and one by Sir Jimmy. There is just something about Galway's sound that puts him light-years ahead of the others; every note is beautiful, every sound glitters, and he can play the snot out of those septuplet runs!
So I went back to practicing, attempting to sound one quarter as good as him. I was kicking some French composer butt, until my thumb started to cramp...which I can only assume is a result of my accidental 16+ mile bike ride yesterday and not because of practicing too hard or tensely. So there I will leave you, folks...with the idea that to outshine the boys I'll just have to get bigger and sparklier.

No comments:

Post a Comment