Exploring Bach

A great day for practicing.


The short version:

40 Minutes of flute

30 Minutes melodic minor

30 Minutes Milestones

30 Minutes Bach/tuning


On flute, I began with long tones. Using a mirror, I made sure I had excellent posture and made adjustments to my embochure based on what I saw. I also spent some time intentionally not looking at myself to listen more intently and make improvements by ear.

My focus today was on intonation and air efficiency. I'm still striving to improve the length of time I can hold a note on flute.


After about 20 minutes on long tones, I moved on to scales. I played one-octave scales at 62 BPM in 8th notes. That was about the right tempo for me to play with my best sound and without mistakes. Definitely progress considering I couldn't play full scales a week ago.


Later, I returned to long tones and began experimenting with the "overtone series". That is, fingering one of the lowest notes on flute and using my embochure to reach an octave higher, then an octave and a half higher, and so on. This is great for helping me hit high notes with the real fingerings and for training my flute embochure in general.


On the sax, I spent some time playing melodic minor scales in quintuplets (five notes per beat), using the Jim Gailloreto turnaround. I'm very interested in mastering different rhythms, and rhythmic scales are heralded by many great musicians as the best way to do this. In addition to the quintuplet rhythm, I experimented with different accent patterns to create other rhythms in tandem.


I count 5, and most rhythms, using syllables. You can hear me say "ta ka di mi tu" at the start, which is how I do 5.

Next I started a new tuning/tone exercise based off of a fragment of a melody from a Bach cello suite. The intervals are, on a given diatonic note:

Diatonic 5th, diatonic 6th, diatonic 5th down. Below is an example:


This is incredibly effective for hearing larger diatonic intervals, self-tuning, and of course tone, especially maintaining a consistent tone across large intervals.




After that, I continued working on Milestones from yesterday. Perhaps the less famous version, often called the original or old version, it is more complicated and challenging than the one recorded by Miles Davis. Yesterday I learned the melody by ear from a Dexter Gordon recording and most of the harmony, today was much more harmonically focused.

I spent the majority of the time playing chord tones and scalar figures over the changes in a specific rhythm. The rhythmic component, although it is a relatively simple rhythm, forces me to think more carefully about voiceleading and about phrasing. It trains my ear, brain, and fingers more effectively than running chord tones in all 8th notes. Below is an example, although I did the exercise with multiple rhythms.


I closed out the day by improvising freely on Milestones.


Check out my interview with Grammy Recording Academy artist/Berklee graduate Sarpay Özçağatay from yesterday. He is an amazing flutist from Turkey who now lives in New York.



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