Flute – The Trill in the Classical Period (1750–1820) Pt 4

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Flute – The Trill in the Classical Period (1750–1820) Pt 4


Flute – The Trill in the Classical Period (1750–1820) Pt 4

Flute – For Türk, the Pralltriller still retains an upper-note start:

The Pralltriller according to D. G. Türk, 1789.

J. G. Tromlitz, in his …Unterricht der Flöte zu Spielen of 1791, has a different take on some matters. From Ardal Powell’s translation in “The Virtuoso Flutist”, Cambridge, 1991: “The trill, when it appears in the course of a melody, is always dependent on an appoggiatura from above or below, or on a preceding note taking the place of an appoggiatura… But if the melody begins with a trill, it can take an appoggiatura, though a very short one… however, it can also be made without an appoggiatura.”

So here is an exception—a main note start is OK, for Tromlitz in 1791, when the trill begins the melody.

Tromlitz thinks of the trill “proper” as starting with the main note, after the appoggiatura is finished, and that it is the main note that is to be accented, after the appoggiatura is finished. Not all sources agree with this.

From Tromlitz, 1791.

This type of performance (a main-note start when the trill begins a phrase or is preceded by the upper or lower note, whether shown as slurred to it or not) may have been common at this time and even earlier.

Piano methods indicate a mixed practice in the 1790s; different teachers gave different explanations. Some recommend main-note starts for trills; others don’t. We remark that some “musical clocks” (mechanical musical instruments) from this period show a predominance of main-note-start trills. For some details, see Sandra Rosenblum’s Performance Practices in Classical Piano Music (Indiana U. Press, 1988). It is likely that pianists were among the first to use main-note starts indiscriminately, in part because of the reasons Hummel gives (see below).

Mathieu Peraut’s Méthode pour la Flûte (Paris, c.1800) is very careful to show all trills starting on the upper note, with the exception of a single cadential trill starting on the note a step below the main note (second illustration).

The trill according to Peraut, c.1800.

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