This will be a multi-part post about Gil’s use of flute throughout his work
The flute is a versatile and agile treble instrument, it is expressive and can be used for a variety of musical tasks.
From The Technique of Orchestration by Kennan and Grantham:
“The flute is equally at home in sustained melodies and in florid passages. Because of its lightness and grace, it is especially good at airy, scherzo-like parts and ornate filigree work.”
Gil utilises the flute as many of the great orchestrators throughout history would have, as well as a few ways that are quite distinctive especially in a jazz setting.
In the following post, I will explore the ways in which Gil uses the flute that have more in common with traditional orchestration (Acknowledging the fact that the ensemble which Gil writes for is not typical or traditional in either classical or jazz worlds).
Audio examples below
Examples with flute in the lead or as melodic backings.
In this example, the Alto flute has a florid and expressive line, that is sufficiently light enough to stay behind Miles melody.
Bess, Oh Where’s My Bess – bars 7&8
Concierto de Aranjuez – Introduction
In the opening passage of the famous Concierto, the flute (in its low register) leads the ensemble. Debussy famously used the flute in its low register in the opening of Prelude a l’Apres-midi d’un faune. When applying the flute in this range it is important to keep the background texture light enough so it can be heard. Notice how the accompanying instruments in this example are marked mezzo-piano.
Fishermen, Strawberry and Devil Crab – Introduction
Here in another introduction, Gil has used the Bass flute has the lead melodic instrument.
Blues for Pablo – bars 37&38
In this example the flute is the uppermost voice by an interval of an octave. When the flute needs to be heard over a bigger force, larger intervals or higher placement into the flutes stronger register are necessary. Note how the flute is still audible in this section whilst still preserving a floral edge.