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Is it Possible to Play 2 Notes at Once on the Flute?

Is it Possible to Play 2 Notes at Once on the Flute?

Sep 10, 2018

That's a really good question. The answer is YES and NO. Haha, I know. Funny answer!

Basically, the flute can play 2 notes at once, but it's not designed to. So it doesn't sound very good...

In this video, I explain more, plus show you my two favourite "multiphonics", so that you can have your own party trick of playing 2 notes at the same time!


Can the flute play two notes at once? That is a very good question. In this video. I'm going to answer that question, but first I'm going to give you the short answer. Yes and no is the short answer. So here's the more elaborate answer.

There are instruments that are designed to play more than one note at once. Play a few notes at once. Can you think of any of those instruments? So piano, guitar, harp, ukulele, anything that can play chords or a few notes at once. Then there are instruments that are not designed to play more than one note, but they can, and they can do it really well. Can you think of which instruments? Violin, Cello - so stringed instruments, violin, viola, cello, double bass. You can solidly play two notes at once on these instruments. In fact, it's called double-stopping, but it's not the purpose of the instrument. Generally speaking, these instruments play one note at once.

Okay. So then they're at the instruments like the flute that are not designed to play more than one note at a time. Their job is to play a series of single notes. You can play it really fast. You can play it really slow, but it's always one note at a time. However, there is a bit of a hack that you can do or a party trick, or you could also call it an advanced technique or a contemporary technique. It's called multiphonics. And it means that you can actually play more than one note on the flute at the same time.  So the second part of this video is I'm going to show you my two favourite multiphonics so that you can play them as well.

Okay. My first favourite is my favourite because it's really easy to play. The downside is that it sounds terrible. The two notes that you can play are C and high D at the same time. All right. So the fingering is high D like this little finger down, thumb on. To get this, try and get the low note to come out first, then try the high note. Then try them both together. You are playing two notes at once. If you can do that, you're set.

And now my other favourite multiphonic is my favourite also because it sounds really pretty, but it's much harder to play. The two notes that it plays at the same time are D and F. And the fingering is this- finger and F and then add the two trill keys with your spare two fingers. Now, firstly, try and get the low note. It helps if you have sort of a fluffy sound using hot breath, which means an open mouth more. Then try and get the high note. Then try and get them together.

So to answer your question again, can the flute play two notes at once? Yes, but it's not designed to. How about that? That's a better answer isn't it? If you wanna look further into this, there's actually a composer called Robert Dick who does lots of compositions using multiphonics. There are a lot of other contemporary composers around that also use these extended techniques or advanced techniques. And one of these techniques is multiphonics. So by all means YouTube him, YouTube multiphonics on the flute, YouTube multiphonic pieces on the flute. Google it, find some music and play it, but just know this is an extended technique. This is not your regular part of learning to play the flute. So enjoy. See ya.

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