Paper Blossoms (Papierbluten) – 24 Short Pieces for Flute: An Introduction To Contemporary Music and Extended Technique
Ulrich Gasser is a contemporary Swiss composer whose extensive background in flute pedagogy and performance has heightened his awareness of the instruments' capabilities and limitations, enabling him to create appropriate repertoire for futists of all ability levels. Papierbluten (Paper Blossoms) is a compilation of twenty-four short pieces that provide an introduction to contemporary music and extended techniques. Composed in 1982, this collection provides young flutists with an accessibilty to new music, presenting it in a methodical sequence, as well as equipping teachers with a concise lesson manual. The exercises are formatted as etudes, though they could also be utilized as miniature performance pieces.
The basic aim of the collection is to expand musical awareness by changing listening habits. The student is meant to get more used to new melodic traits, sounds, rhythms, etc., and to gain confidence with them.
The main topics are:
– Reading accidentals
– In terms of meter and rhythm, free, irregular formations; rhythmns with added values and spatial notation
– In terms of dynamics, extreme contrasts and accents
– Mastering vibrato (control of vibratos, including s.v., mv., and normal vibrato)
– In terms of articulation, legato and staccato, double and fluttertonguing
– Playing techniques such as trills and tremoli, glissandi, harmonics and simultaneous played and sung sounds, as well as micro-intervals, quarter-tones and multiphonics
This list is not complete, nor are the problems dealt with comprehensively. This collection is meant as a first step – an incentive to further investigation. Nevertheless, certain difficulties recur often, which means they can be addressed more seriously.
Each of the individual “Paperblossoms” has a three-part commentary. “Difficulties” lists the technical and musical problems that are the subject of the etude. The “Explanations” provide the necessary explanations of the notation, nomenclature and questions of playing technique. Finally, the “Suggestions” offer possible approaches to practice and give some ideas to encourage a more free attitude to the notated text.
A few basic indications:
– It is really worth working frequently with a metronome, not just so as to play the rhythms accurately, but also to get a conscious feeling of different tempi.
– It would be desirable for the teacher to analyse the various “Paperblossoms” with the student, clarifying formal, tonal, and any other striking aspects, so as to promote a conscious approach to interpretation.
-When parameters such as loudness, tempo, breathing, etc. are not expressly spelled out, performers should work out a version of their own, checking how musically effecive the various possibilities are.
Written in French, English and German