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Glimpses of Urban Nightlife for Solo Flute

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  • Uses extended techniques
  • Staff Pick

Staff Pick

“Contemporary techniques for everyone. ”

Chris Hankin Just Flutes staff member - [email protected]

These three short pieces are a great introduction to the wonderful world of contemporary techniques. Looking totally approachable on the page, key clicks, low-level jet whistles and flutter-tonguing are all seamlessly integrated into the music and dynamic precision, rubato and the frequently changing time signatures all add to the feeling of playing something really new. Each piece has simple performance directions too, and the result is a work that is full of character and completely linked to the title. Everyone can have a go at this - it's great!

From the Publisher

On 25th February 2016 at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts in the United States, American clarinettist Eric Hansen performed and recorded my work Still, for a minute?  for solo clarinet. The piece lasts for about a minute and includes a number of ‘extended techniques’. Due to the wonders of modern technology and social media the recording was heard by the Australian flautist Dr Karen Lonsdale. Karen sent me a message to ask if I had anything like Still, for a minute?  for solo flute. I hadn’t, but instead offered to write something for her. Glimpses of Urban Night Life was the result. Again, using extended techniques I composed a set of three pieces taken from a time that my wife and I stayed in New York and later, Washington DC. In both cities, our hotel room looked out onto the street below and late at night, we would watch the world unfold beneath our window.

Swift Alley Feet (Thief) We were surprised how much shady activity we could actually see from the window of our hotel room in Washington DC! Some of it was quite humorous, but at other times it was actually quite frightening. This movement has a number of extended techniques that attempts to capture the moment a thief makes their move. The extended techniques that interject each musical phrase represent the physical movement of feet and the phrases themselves are the thoughts dashing through the mind of the thief as they approach their target. The build-up is gradual, with moments of doubt and almost getting caught in bar 15 before the ad lib. at bar 23 brings the listener to the moment when the thief snatches their target…. then pauses in the shadows before being chased down the alleyway.

Night Worker Eyes (Bartender) In New York we could see various places that didn’t seem to close at all. People would be serving behind the bar late at night and you could almost feel the exhaustion after a busy evening. Again the music tries to capture through the body language of an individual, the thoughts and feelings of the subject in question with extended techniques used in this work, to convey an impatient finger tapping on the top of the bar… waiting for the last couple to finally leave. From bar 16 the subject begins to wish for home and the night shift to end.

Money In The Hat (Busker) From the hotel window in Washington DC we witnessed all manner of comings and goings on the street below. One of the constants was a busker. I don’t know how good they were as I could not actually hear what they were playing – I am sure that it was a set of well-known classics. However, I imagined a very different type of music being played by the busker. With flutter-tonguing and some complex shifts of time and rhythm, the busker on the corner of the street below our window demonstrates the virtuoso that lurks inside.

Karen first performed elements of this work during the global pandemic lockdown in May 2021 having been offered a performance residency, playing the flute for patients and visitors  at a hospital in Brisbane, Australia.

Honorable Mention: NFA Newly Published Music Awards 2024

Performance duration (approx): 4'

Difficulty guide: 6-7
Difficulty level, roughly compared to ABRSM exam grades. 0 is total beginner, 9 is advanced (beyond grade 8).


  1. Swift Alley Feet (Thief)
  2. Night Worker Eyes (Bartender)
  3. Money in the Hat (Busker)

Item Details


  • Part 1: Flute
Category: Solo Flute Repertoire
Publisher: Forton Music
Publisher's reference: FM1164
Our Stock Code: 1670141
Media Type: Paperback (3 pages [score])

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