Changing my sound: Developing the Tone Quality on the Flute with Embouchure Change

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Högskolan för scen och musik

Author: Reetta Hakala; [2023-06-14]

Keywords: Flute; Embouchure; Tone quality; Tonality; Lips; Sound;

Abstract: This thesis studies the embouchure of a flutist and how changing it affects the tone quality of a player. The study was made by exploring literature on the topic of flute technique and embouchure, and by documenting the author’s own journey with embouchure change. Data was collected through video recordings, photos, and written practice journal. To follow the changes in tone quality three orchestral excerpts showcasing different aspects were chosen: Ravel’s Bolero for low register, Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé for high register, and Rossini’s William Tell Overture for articulation. In this thesis, information is provided on the functions of a flutist’s embouchure, its specific role in tone production and its formation as well as a short description of embouchure-related facial muscles. The complete journey of embouchure change is explained from decision-making and planning to the exercises used. This thesis aims to show how embouchure and tone are connected, what embouchure change process looks like, and what improvements it can bring to the player’s sound. Embouchure is directly and indirectly connected to all other aspects of flute tone production; thus, developing it can greatly affect the player’s tone quality. In general, students as well as teachers lack deep knowledge or have conflicting opinions about the embouchure and its formation. This thesis shows that there is not necessarily one correct way to form or use embouchure on the flute, but being efficient and having a thorough understanding of what one is doing with it and why, is of great importance. After working with embouchure and tone exercises only slight changes could be seen on the appearance of the author’s embouchure. However, the changes in the player’s feeling when using the embouchure were much more significant and it was visibly clear that the embouchure maneuvers improved. Developing embouchure had also a positive effect on the tone quality and flexibility of the embouchure.

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