Sunday, 5 February 2012

The first lesson

When I bought my flute from Vunugoptal I tried to teach him a tune and he tried to teach one to me.  Neither of us had much success.  I had wanted to play The Lark in the Morning - a particular favourite - but could neither remember it nor conjure it out of the Keralan air.  I settled for The Maids of Mitchelstown.

I don't know what tune he tried to teach me but I distracted myself by trying to mimic the sighing quality of his playing.  I was taught to cover the holes of the flute with the pads the last phalange of each finger.  This is a very western, classical style of playing but it makes impossible the kind of glissando that Venugoptal achieved with such grace and lack of effort.  He did this by using the pads under the second phalange of the fingers on his right hand.

I was also confused by the fact that he took his root note from the middle of the instrument - the top three holes being open, the bottom three closed.  He maintained that his flute was in C while to my mind it was in G.  This caused me some problems in our next meeting, my first 'formal' lesson.

Venugoptal's teaching involved me learning and transcribing tunes.  The first one uses a scale:
D Eb F# G A Bb C# D

Just to give you a sense of my own confusion, the first note of lines 3 and 4 of the transcription should be a G, the second F# etc. Venugopal demonstrates the tune in the clip. His playing is rather stilted but he wouldn't let me record him just 'playing', only demonstrating the tunes. The accompanying pictures are completely gratuitous but I haven't found a way of posting audio without pictures. My apologies for the noise caused wind hitting the microphone - we were outside.

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