Multiphonics

 

Multiphonics are two or more notes sounding simultaneously. These can be achieved by using special fingerings and a precise embouchure. There are two basic types: Mutliphonics using the harmonic series and multiphonics cominbing unrelated pitches. Multiphonics within the harmonic series are the result of overblowing into the harmonics above a fundamental pitch. Multiphonics with unrelated pitches involve special fingerings. Multiphonics are not really harmonies or chords but rather color effects on a note. They are more of a cluster-like structure/sound. 

 

Below are resources with extensive and complete lists of fingerings for Multiphonics: 

  • Flouble: a complete list of multiphonics with sound samples recorded by flutist Gergely Ittzés

  • Carine Levine, The Techniques of Playing the FLute, Vol 1 und 2, Verlag Bärenreiter, ISBN 3-7618-1595-6

  • Robert Dick, Tone Development Through Extended Techniques, Multiple Breath Music Company NY, ISBN 0-939407-00-0

  • Pierre-Yves artaud ”flutes au présent“, Èdition Jobert, paris, (USA: Theodore Presser)

 

Production Tips

Multiphonics can be achieved by using special fingerings and a precise embouchure. To produce a Multiphonic, first extract each pitch of a Multiphonic fingering and the corresponding dynamic range of each note. Second, tune your throat and the support to the lowest note. Finally, move the lips slightly forward with a relaxed embouchure to bring in the higher pitches. This is a "bottom-up" approach to producing a Multiphonic.

 

Multiphonics within the harmonic series are usually easier with a "top-down" approach. Play the upper Harmonic with the minimal possible support and lips forward and relaxed, until the bottom note(s) come into the sound. 

 

To play a diminuendo of a Multiphonic, the highest or lowest note of the "chord" should be the reference tone and played to the end of the diminuendo. 

 

Extended Variations

 

 

Notation Examples
Video Examples

Flute 1

Harmonic Multiphonic with notes extracted and combined

Piccolo

Multiphonics: pitches extraced and combined

Flute 2

Multiphonics with pitches separated and then combined

Alto

Multiphonics in succession

Flute 3

Accented Harmonic Multiphonics (also known as Cuivré)

Bass

Multiphonics in succession

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