Pan - Journal of the British Flute Society
This beautifully-presented publication in two volumes—a course book and a book of etudes, exercises and works—is designed to teach the process of learning circular breathing from beginner to proficiency. Written by Polish flute player Natalia Jarząbek with the support of her teacher Barbara Świątek-Żelazna, this is a comprehensive step-by-step manual which is clearly explained throughout. The process of learning circular breathing may seem daunting, and can take patience and time to master, but in the course book, each of the stages is broken down into small, manageable steps which can be practised individually. Each step is clearly explained, so that students can gain a detailed understanding of what is required physically, as well as how each step fits into the whole process contextually. Beginning away from the flute, the method first teaches the physical processes involved, before moving into tone production and then producing a polished circular breathing technique. Jarząbek’s approach differs a little from Robert Dick’s (specifically in terms of how to move the air from the mouth while breathing in through the nose) and different players may find one approach suits them better than the other, so I would recommend exploring both.
In addition to the method of learning the technique, Chapter 1 provides a useful history of circular breathing to provide a sense of context, and Chapter 6 gives an overview of how the technique can be applied to a range of repertoire from the baroque to the present day, including transcriptions and orchestral repertoire.
The exercises, etudes and works presented in the second volume are discussed in a commentary in Chapter 7, clearly describing the purpose and method of approach for each one. These begin relatively simply, with trills and then moving
semiquavers of increasing difficulty and non-vibrato notes, to provide experience of circular breathing within a musical context (following on from the completion of the method outlined in the course book). The remainder of the book is made up of transcriptions (including Pasculli’s Le Api and Chopin’s Étude Op. 10 No. 2) and a wonderful selection of new compositions, including some by Jarząbek herself, which provide excellent opportunities to put new skills into practice. Many of these feature fast-moving repeated patterns and dazzling virtuosic displays, while Paweł Siek’s 2020 work, 385 x 40 Mpx makes full use of the flute’s capability for a wide range of timbres.
This is an excellent set of books and a welcome addition to the available literature on this topic. Highly recommended.
From the Publisher
Circular breathing is a technique used while playing wind instruments that allows players to sustain the sound for a long time. It requires drawing air quickly in through the nose whilst simultaneously pushing the air collected in your mouth into the instrument.
The newly published book Infinity. Circular breathing presents the history of the technique, methods of circulating while playing the flute, and a collection of examples from music literature. It also describes various contexts of permanent breath, and advantages that result from working on the development of that skill. The course book with instructions comes in a set with an exclusive collection of exercises, études, and a choice of various pieces composed especially for the Infinity project by an international bevy of composers. The exercises marked with a camera icon have been recorded and made available to help you see the proper way of completing them.
A characteristic feature of the method described is the fact that it does not require the flutist to change embouchure while circular breathing. The presented positioning of the tongue, throat, lips, and cheeks is adapted to the player’s individual embouchure. The starting point for working on the material that this book comprises is the correct drawing of breath, and correct functioning of all the elements necessary for proper production of sound.
Finalist: NFA Newly Published Music Awards 2021
Difficulty level, roughly compared to ABRSM exam grades. 0 is beginner, 9 is advanced (beyond grade 8).
- History of the circular breathing technique
- Circular breathing technique: introduction
- Circualar breathing for flutists
- Exercises using the Phuemo Pro and the headjoint
- Exercises with the body of the flute
- The use of circular breathing in flute literature
- Descriptions of exercises, etudes and works
Exercises, Etudes and Works:
- Performance indications
- Fish in an Aquarium
- La Musica delle forme
- Blues for N
- Etude Op10 No2
- Le Api
- 385 x 40 Mpx. Luca Marenzio but w i d e, filtrered and reversed
- Floating Landscapes
- Flute Diving