Tips on getting into the third octave

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Flotineer
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Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by Flotineer »

Looking for some tips on getting into the third octave, please. Tighter embouchure, sure, but how do I do that?!? I can hit the 3rd D, but nothing above that…

I would appreciate any helpful tips that worked for you, no matter how idiosyncratic.
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Re: Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by TxWhistler »

I'm very new to playing the flute so take my following suggestions with a grain of salt. Some might consider it to be the blind leading the blind! :lol:

1) Are you using the fingerings suggested by the manufacturer of your flute? For my flute, if you number the holes as #1 is nearest the embouchure hole and #6 the farthest away, then for 3rd octave E you cover holes 1,2,4,5. For F# it's 1,3,4,6 and for G it's 1 and 3 only. Jem the flute has posted a sticky thread of fingering charts for various flutes. His thread is the 5th from the top in this flute forum.

2) I find that I can play up to 3rd octave G with the same embouchure tightness I need to get 3rd octave D. If I'm using a tighter embouchure, then I don't realize it. I do find that I need to blow more down into the hole than normal. This just may be my inexperience with playing the flute.

If some experienced players tell you something different, then listen to them!!!!!
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Re: Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by Terry McGee »

The classic advice is to:
- choose fingerings that make lower partials non-viable (eg third octave G as xox ooo)
- narrow the jet (tighten the embouchure)
- speed up the jet (higher pressure)
- aim the jet higher (blow more across than down)

If perhaps you do all those things at first, you might then find you can relax on some of them.
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Re: Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by TxWhistler »

Terry McGee wrote: Mon Sep 06, 2021 7:01 am The classic advice is to:
- aim the jet higher (blow more across than down)
Thank you Terry, I will work on this.
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Re: Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by dyersituations »

Terry McGee wrote: Mon Sep 06, 2021 7:01 am The classic advice is to:
- choose fingerings that make lower partials non-viable (eg third octave G as xox ooo)
- narrow the jet (tighten the embouchure)
- speed up the jet (higher pressure)
- aim the jet higher (blow more across than down)

If perhaps you do all those things at first, you might then find you can relax on some of them.
I've been using the 3rd octave to strengthen my embouchure, and this is the general approach that has worked for me.
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Re: Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by tstermitz »

Practice, practice, practice... but you already knew that.

Time on the dance floor. In other words, some things like fine muscle control of the embouchure, simply take time.

I've been working a lot on playing the harmonics of each 1st register note: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, which is easy enough to do through F/F#. The idea is to train the lips/breath/intuition so you have the control you need to jump up or down an octave.

(For Terry: on my flute, the harmonic partials are pretty much spot on the integers multiples of the fundamental; not a carillon.)
Last edited by tstermitz on Mon Sep 06, 2021 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by Flotineer »

Thank you! This, I wasn’t doing:
[- aim the jet higher (blow more across than down)/quote]

Tried it, and have been able to hit some partials. Rather uncontrolled, not notes, but at least high frequencies, which is something to start…
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Re: Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by gbyrne »

Brendan Mulholland has the “three best friends” practice exercise for developing embouchure control.

D F# G, D’ F’# G‘, then the harmonic D F# G (which is actually A’ C’# D’). Repeat descending.

Then do the octave jumps on each note D D’ D-harmonic; F# F’# F’#-harmonic, G G’ G’-harmonic.

Repeat previous with ascending and descending.

The E (and variations) are skipped because the note is weaker due to the smaller hole and won’t ever balance what you’re looking to push on the DFG combo.

In all of the above you’re looking to max the power of the notes without breaking them through. Constantly seeking the control and sweet spot for especially the low G and low D bell note.

Do the above every day for three months for 5-15 minutes. I know it sounds boring. But it’s a killer exercise for building and strengthening embouchure.

When you’re nailing the above - extend the exercise to look to push D D’ D’-har D’’ etc.

E’’ is very challenging (clean in tune) on keyless - on keyed flute needs Eb vented. On my keyless I can get E’’ by sliding up from a half-holed E’’b but intonation imperfect. Keyed E’’ good with the vented note. XXXXOX for F’’# and XOXOOO gives me G’’. As some have mentioned above the playing of third octave notes is varying fingering depending on maker design.

Hammy Hamilton told me that it takes 3-5 years for an adult learner to develop really strong control. Feels about right. I’m definitely still learning at start of year 5.
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Re: Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by Terry McGee »

Flotineer wrote: Mon Sep 06, 2021 6:53 pm Thank you! This, I wasn’t doing:
- aim the jet higher (blow more across than down)
Tried it, and have been able to hit some partials. Rather uncontrolled, not notes, but at least high frequencies, which is something to start…
Good work. Now, I realise I should have added a point 5:

- Make sure the stopper isn't too far back from the embouchure hole, or even, bring it forward a bit.

We, in the modern Irish flute world, have settled on a distance of 1 bore diameter (typically 3/4" or 19mm) from the face of the stopper back to the centre of the embouchure. I have not found a historical precedent for that. I have a clear historical precedent from Siccama probably about 1857 where marks confirm his flute stopper was intended to be set at 17mm. He was definitely looking for three good strong, well-tuned octaves.

Setting the stopper back strengthens the bottom octave but can make the high octaves flat or unattainable. Setting it too far forward weakens the bottom octave and may even drive the upper octaves sharp. Charanga players (Cuban jazz-style flute players) set their stoppers very close. It annihilates the bottom octave, but they work the third and fourth octaves hard to be heard over the rest of their bands.

So check your stopper position and bring it forward a bit if too far back. Especially if you find your top notes are weak or flat.
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Re: Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by Sedi »

I found this to be helpful - most of these work on a keyless flute as well.
https://www.wfg.woodwind.org/tinwhistle/tw_bas_3.html
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Re: Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by GreenWood »

What I reckon, well I reckon that coming down from the 4th octave, 3rd octave will be easier to play than going up from the 2nd octave.

:D
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Re: Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by BKWeid »

In my experience, all of this takes time. The drills and exercises suggested are very good and helpful. Some flutes are much more difficult than others--in the upper octave. I would start by working up to the highest note you can comfortably achieve. Practice and blow that note in long tones working on finding the most pleasant tone. Then, inch up to the next. Over time, you'll be able to reach higher and higher octaves as your embouchure improves and you become move familiar with what the flute requires. Patience is a virtue.
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Re: Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by GreenWood »

BKWeid wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 8:15 am In my experience, all of this takes time. The drills and exercises suggested are very good and helpful. Some flutes are much more difficult than others--in the upper octave. I would start by working up to the highest note you can comfortably achieve. Practice and blow that note in long tones working on finding the most pleasant tone. Then, inch up to the next. Over time, you'll be able to reach higher and higher octaves as your embouchure improves and you become move familiar with what the flute requires. Patience is a virtue.
I will back that up. Flute is the only instrument I have played so far that takes weeks to learn to sound a one higher note, but fortunately the first few are easy enough and introduce you to the next higher ones without punishment, just patience and practice. If after much practice at playing you just do not get any result at all, then maybe question the flute or own style of embouchure. I found that being flexible with embouchure helped a lot... I have tried tight lip styles, styles where the lips kiss out over the embouchure, and others, and find each has merit and drawback in terms of sound and ease of playing... and I don't think it is possible to say definitely one or another because it depends on instrument, style of playing chosen, as well as personal preferences (for whatever reason....a relatively relaxed flexible embouchure is what I tend towards, and is also often recommended by professional players). At least, that is my experience up to now.
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Re: Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by skap »

I think, the role of the larynx should not be overlooked.
There is a correlation between the lip aperture and the glottis
aperture. Tightening the embouchure will not give reliable results
if it is not followed by the glottis. I just typed "larynx and flute playing"
in Google and stumbled upon this thesis:

https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstre ... sAllowed=y

I didn't read past the abstract yet, but the abstract confirms what I knew very well
from my personal experience.

My assumption is that adding the larynx on the list of things to pay attention to,
along with the lip aperture and air jet direction, may accelerate the progress
tremendously. Pay attention to what is happening with these three when you go from
the first to the second octave. There should be already a "feeling" in the glottis,
at least if you play the second octave softly. Then for the 3rd octave this "feeling"
should be amplified. I say "feeling" because it could be harmful to say to tighten
the glottis. In fact, it is the same feeling you experience when you sing high notes.
When you sing high notes you do not tighten your glottis consciously but you can feel it,
and it should be the same when playing high notes on the flute, really the same feeling
in the glottis.
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Re: Tips on getting into the third octave

Post by RoberTunes »

Terry McGee wrote: Mon Sep 06, 2021 7:01 am The classic advice is to:
- choose fingerings that make lower partials non-viable (eg third octave G as xox ooo)
- narrow the jet (tighten the embouchure)
- speed up the jet (higher pressure)
- aim the jet higher (blow more across than down)
That's basically it. Practice narrowing the diameter of the air flow and aiming it higher against the opposite side of the tone hole,
so you're going right at the sharp edge (and flute in the first octave sounds better with the air stream aimed much lower, down into the tube).
Practice variations on that and find the best vertical air angle.

TIP >>>> Also, from experience with different flutes over the years, I often found that different flutes have different needs in terms
of the ideal air angle approach; meaning angle the air stream slightly to the right of 90-degrees, not at a perfect 90-degrees relative to the length of the
flute tube. To do that (it often helps in all octaves actually), push the flute body forward and away from you slightly, with your right arm.
As the air stream then starts going into the hole at a few degrees to the right of 90-degrees, you might find the flute responds much better. I found many
flute models have different responses, and that technique greatly helped response in all three octaves. The angle of air stream shifted
to the right a little, may need you to vary the exact angle depending on what octave you're in at the time. Try it out! On some flutes it makes
a huge difference! Lots of flutes I've played just don't have ideal response when the air goes at the tone hole at 90-degrees. Wish I had a diagram for that, but I don't.

And above all, get a professionally-sourced fingering guide and learn the fingerings for the third octave, because they can differ quite a bit
from what's used in the first two octaves; it's like it becomes a different instrument up there in the stratospheria. If you use other techniques
for playing third octave notes, beware that the intonation may be off, but if you're only up there for fast notes, short cut fingerings or blowing techniques may be acceptable,
it all depends on the music and who owns the freaking microphone! ha!
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