Thursday, May 25, 2006

NAF Playing Tip #20: Tag

This is the fifth exercise in the series of duet exercises, designed to provide you with some new ideas when playing with another flute player. This is an intermediate exercise, so if you are a beginner, I recommend that you start with the earlier exercises posted on prior weeks playing tips.

This exercise requires that both players use flutes in the same key. Also, this exercise continues the concept of playing a defined set of musical measures or beats, thus the reason that I classify this as an intermediate exercise. If you have never improvized a solo flute along with a drum or metronome, you might find this exercise a little challenging.


This exercise is similar to “Catch-up” except the person who is to take the trade-off jumps in BEFORE the other person ends his/her phrase, so there is an overlapping transition. This exercise requires the leader to improvise a phrase of specific length (i.e. in measures / beats) and the follower has to get to the note being held by the lead within that same specified number of beats and/or measures. For example, each phrase will last 8 counts and each person uses this period to improvise their phase. Similar to "Butterfly", the lead plays a phrase and then holds the last note until the follower catchs up...
If you have a third person who can play the basic beat on a drum, that will be really useful.

Lead Role

Before beginning this exercise, establish the number of beats that constitute the time required for the follower to catch up. For example, start with an 8 beat phrase. Start by counting the beat out before launching into the first phase. Optionally hold the last note, but jump into the next phrase before the other person finishes the 8 beat count.

Follower Role

Count the beat with the lead during the first phrase, but jump in with your phrase before the lead finishes. You are now the lead (read the rules for the lead). Repeat.

In this exercise, again it's important for each player to hold the last note of the phrase while the other player plays. This not only builds your lung capacity but continues to reinforce your ability to listen to the other player, keep track of the counted beats and prepare to play your next phrase.

One you have the basic exercise figured out, the leader can make it more challenging by varying the number of beats played in realtime (e.g. in multiples of 4: go from 4 to 8, 12, etc) and the follower has to pay attention and play their improvised phrase in the same number of beats.

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