This week we'll be discussing the first etude in Andersen's Op. 33 book of technical studies. When I first started working on these, I knew that they were useful and necessary if I wanted to get better at the flute, but I wasn't really sure how to go about working with them other than to play them over and over. While this type of practicing will yield a certain amount of progress, it's not the most efficient way to use etudes.
I've winnowed out four different ways to break down this particular study. Click on each title to download a mini-etude that works on that concept.
Mini-Study No. 1: What happens on the big beats (1, 2, 3, 4).
This is always a good starting point, regardless of the type of etude you're studying. The most important things tend to happen on the downbeat, so start your analysis there. In this etude, singling out the pitches that happen on the downbeats reveals some patterns, but the resulting melody doesn't quite stand alone. It's missing something.
Mini-Study No. 2: Simplifying the neighbor notes.
Neighbor notes tend to be ornamental in nature, and they will look something like the E-F-E configuration below.
The pitch you start on and return to (in this case, E) is usually the more important one in the figure. When you remove the neighbor notes in Etude No. 1, some standard scales and arpeggios come to light. This analysis could stand on its own as an etude, and would be a good introduction for students who are beginners to technical work.
Mini-Study No. 3: Simplifying the repeated notes.
This is similar to simplifying the neighbor notes, but on a larger scale. If you notice that the same pitch happens on two downbeats in a row, that's probably the most important thing happening. When you remove the repeated notes in this etude, you can see how long the phrases are and that there is a melodic line beneath all the sixteenth note chaos. The melody is rather disjunct (contains large leaps) though.
Mini-Study No. 4: Clarifying the melodic line through octave displacement.
Sometimes shifting pitches up or down an octave can reveal a simpler line. Using octave displacement on select notes creates a flowing melody that should be kept in mind when playing the etude in its original form. In this case, octave displacement is used to smooth out the large leaps found in the melody created in Mini-Study No. 3.
So what do we learn from deconstructing this etude? We find that while the original page is an overwhelming mass of 16th notes, it is based on scale patterns and arpeggios. We also know now that there is a lovely melodic line that flows through the etude; this knowledge will help with phrasing and planning out breaths.
Contact me with any questions you have, and come back next Wednesday for another dose of Deconstructing Andersen!