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The Renaissance Flute: A Contemporary Guide [Paperback]

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  • Staff Pick

Staff Pick


Chris Hankin Just Flutes staff member - [email protected]

Not only is this book beautifully produced it's also fascinating. The Renaissance period is one that has generally been in the flute-playing shadows and often not thought about at all, so it's great that this lovely volume is completely readable. Right from the outset it is made clear that you can play everything in it on the modern flute so anyone can have a go, and there is just so much here that will encourage you to do just that. Texts and translations of the madrigals for all the transcriptions give the music character, sub-headings such as 'Hexachord Syllable Tonal Qualities' make you want to find out more and there are plenty of musical examples to experiment with. All of which will clearly open up this genre to a much wider audience - hooray!

Pan - Journal of the British Flute Society

This review first appeared in Pan, the journal of the British Flute Society and is reproduced with permission. Join the BFS: membership starts from £20 a year.

This is a fascinating volume which, over the course of 250 pages, provides a thorough grounding into the Renaissance flute. Packed full of practical tips, historical and stylistic information, repertoire examples and fingering charts, this is a comprehensive guide and an invaluable addition to any flute player’s library.

Each of the topics covered is explored succinctly, giving core information and often suggesting starting points for further study. The writing style is approachable and draws on the extensive practical knowledge of the authors, providing a well-balanced mixture of academic information and guidance for performers.

The opening chapter provides some useful context to the Renaissance flute, its history and how it went on to be developed into the perhaps more familiar Baroque flute and beyond. The authors introduce the type of music that was prevalent in the era, and some general contextual information about developments happening at that time. The book goes on to discuss the instruments themselves, serving as a useful buyers’ guide and covering areas such as types of wood, choices of pitch, contemporary makers and how to look after a Renaissance flute. There are numerous tips here which will help players to approach the repertoire with a greater understanding, through a deeper understanding of the instrument itself, its idiosyncrasies and its construction. Detailed, annotated fingering charts are provided, which discuss the feel and response of every note.

There are sections on ensemble playing, once more packed full of invaluable practical advice, covering topics such as intonation, vibrato, transposition and temperament. There are also exercises to help the reader develop tone, intonation, articulation, hexachords, modes and playing in groups, and information regarding stylistic features such as diminutions, ornamentation and musica ficta. Advice is given on approaching and interpreting historical scores, including an extensive list of online sources. Different Renaissance musical forms are explained, and repertoire suggestions are provided as case study examples for flute groups of different sizes.

The book is supported by a companion website, with audio examples, instructional videos and parts for some of the ensemble music discussed.

This publication is a wonderfully informative resource, which demonstrates that the Renaissance flute is both approachable and relevant to contemporary musical life. The combination of academic information and practical knowledge means it is an ideal resource for research, as well as an excellent teaching resource for anyone wanting to learn to play the Renaissance flute. This is essential reading for anyone with a curiosity about the history of the flute, and an asset to any flute player’s library. As for me—I’ve got my Renaissance flute and I’m giving it a go!

Carla Rees

From the Publisher

The renaissance flute, with its rich history, stunning repertoire, and mellow tone, has attracted a significant following among flutists, whether they specialize in modern flute or historical instruments. Yet, actually delving into the study of renaissance flute has proven a challenge - there exists a confusing array of editions of renaissance music, specialized (and often expensive) facsimiles of manuscripts and early prints, and in unfamiliar notations, while at the same time there is a dearth of resources for beginners. Confronting this challenge with the first ever practitioners' handbook for renaissance flute, Kate Clark and Amanda Markwick offer flutists of all levels a clear and accessible introduction to the world and repertoire of the instrument. In The Renaissance Flute: A Contemporary Guide, Clark and Markwick cover all aspects, from practicalities such as buying and maintaining the instrument, to actual music for solo and group performance, to theory designed to improve the understanding and playing of renaissance polyphony. This approach enables students to immerse themselves at their own pace and build on their skills with each chapter. With nearly 40 full pages of exercises, and a companion website with recorded examples and filmed instructions from the authors, The Renaissance Flute provides professionals and newcomers alike a new entryway into the world and practice of renaissance music.

"An invaluable guide to the lesser-known renaissance flute. Its two authors are passionate advocates of their instrument and their love of the repertoire shines through. Informative, insightful and accessible, it will be a fantastic aid to many flutists!" - Milo Machover, Adjunct teacher of music before 1600 and renaissance flute at the University of Music (HfMDK) in Frankfurt, Germany

"An eminently useful book for all lovers and students of Renaissance Flute, and, in general, Renaissance music! Solid and clearly-explained essential theoretical concepts support the invaluable hands-on advice and accumulated experience of many years' researching, teaching and performing." - Dr. Barthold Kuijken, (formerly Royal Conservatories of Brussels and The Hague)

"Kate Clark and Amanda Markwick have produced an invaluable guide and reference manual for the renaissance flute. The reader is invited to choose how much she wants to drill down into the details of modes, hexachords, difference tones, and alternative fingerings. In the main body of text there is enough detail to spark curiosity in the non-specialist musician. This book needs a place in the library of all music institutions as well as the bookshelves of avocational and professional flutists alike." - Barbara Kallaur, Former Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music, Historical Performance Institute, Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University


  1. Introduction
  2. Instruments: Materials, Pitch, Makers, and Maintenance
  3. Playing the Flute: Sound, Fingerings, and Articulation
  4. Playing Together: Sound, Tuning, and Temperament in Consort Playing
  5. Exercises
  6. Introduction to the Music
  7. Music Suitable for One Flute
  8. Music Suitable for Two Flutes
  9. Music Suitable for Three Flutes
  10. Music Suitable for Four Flutes
  11. The Renaissance Modes
  12. The Hexachord
  13. Musica Vera and Musica Ficta
  14. Cadences in Renaissance Music
  15. Renaissance Ornamentation: Diminutions and Graces
  16. Notation and Transcription
  17. The Haka Flute

Item Details

Category: Books on History of the Flute
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publisher's reference: 9780190913328
Our Stock Code: 1474046
Media Type: Paperback (304 pages [score])