Flute – The Trill in the Classical Period (1750–1820) Pt 6

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Flute – The Trill in the Classical Period (1750–1820) Pt 6


Flute – The Trill in the Classical Period (1750–1820) Pt 6

Flute – In Hugot and Wunderlich’s “Méthode de Flûte” of 1804, trills are introduced as starting on the upper note. This is still the standard. But they explain that trills can start with either the main note, the upper note, or the lower note, and they indicate two instances where they say either an upper-note start or main-note start may be used.

From Hugot et Wunderlich, 1804. Either upper- or main-note start.

(The articulation is curiously changed when they illustrate the main-note start in the second instance.)

From Hugot et Wunderlich, 1804. Articulation for upper- and main-note start.

From J. B. Cramer’s Instructions for the Pianoforte (c.1810): “The Shake begins with the note above and ends on the principal note; when at the end of a piece it is generally followed by a turn…”. All shakes illustrated in Fancesco Pollini’s Methodo del clavicembelo (c.1811) begin with the upper accessory, according to E. Dannreuter’s Musical Ornamentation.

The explanation of trills in Rafael Dressler’s New and Complete Instructions for the Flute (1827) [available here; see page 27] is very brief. The trill is described with examples starting on the main note, and this is presumably his preference. But after it is clear what a trill is, he says “It may be commenced in different ways; with the principal note itself, with the note above, or with a turn written in small notes.” Passing shakes (Pralltrillers) start with the main note.

From Dressler’s Instructions, 1827. Alternative starts and passing shakes.

A. B. Fürstenau’s explanation of trills in his Flöten-Schule, Op.42, of 1826 is essentially the same as Dressler’s. So is the description of trills by E. Walckiers in his Méthode de Flûte, Op. 30, of 1829.

But Drouët’s Method of Flute Playing (London, 1830) is somewhat different. Drouët shows the trill first as an alteration of quarter notes starting with the main note. But that is just to fix the idea of alternating adjacent notes. His following examples make clear that he strongly prefers the upper-note start, and in case it is not clear, he states “It is necessary to remark that the shake commences with the note above.” He shows very short trills as a triplet, as in Dressler.

From Drouët’s Method, 1830.

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