Flute – The Trill in the Classical Period (1750–1820) Pt 8

Flute

Flute – The Trill in the Classical Period (1750–1820) Pt 8


Flute – The Trill in the Classical Period (1750–1820) Pt 8

Flute – Thomas Lindsay, in his The Elements of Flute-Playing, Part II (1830) says “Theorists are not agreed whether the Shake should begin with the [main] or upper note; it is, consequently, as often performed one way as the other.”

From Lindsay’s Elements, 1830.

Lindsay starts many trills with the main note:

From Lindsay’s Elements, 1830.

In the case of the chain of trills shown below, Lindsay says either an upper or main-note start is OK—with the best effect obtained, assuming time permits, with an upper-note start and a turn on each trill.

From Lindsay’s Elements, 1830.

A strong recommendation of a rule that all trills begin with the main note was advanced by J. N. Hummel in 1828, the year after Beethoven’s death. In his Ausführliche Theoretisch Practische Anweisung zum Pianofortespiel, he states that he wishes to break with previous practice and henceforth start all trills with the main-note, in part simply because that’s often easier on the piano. Here are his words (translation from Edward Dannreuter’s Musical Ornamentation of 1894):

From Hummel’s Anweisung, 1828.

L. Spohr in his Violinschule of 1832 says “Every shake generally begins … with the principle note …”. A footnote states “This rule J. N. Hummel first advanced in his Piano-forte School…”. A. B. Fürstenau, in his Die Kunst des Flötenspiels, Op.138, of 1844 agrees with the main-note-start rule and acknowledges the treatises of Hummel and Spohr (and Kalkbrenner, 1831) by name. His 1844 method omits the list of alternative starts that his 1826 Flöten-schule gave.

Still, flutists need not follow Hummel’s rule for all music of the mid and late 19th century. For example, Rudolf Tillmetz included trills in his Melodic Etudes, Op.47, of c.1900 for which he used written short appoggiaturas to indicate an upper-note start (e.g., twice in Etude 1).

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