Flouble (rhymes with ‘double’), is a fantastic new tool for composers and performers working with multiphonics for the flute. Created by the virtuoso Hungarian flutist-composer Gergely Ittzés, Flouble is based on Ittzés’ Chart of Double-Stops, a ‘periodic table’ of two-note multiphonics. The software offers a much wider range of features than the original chart however and Ittzés has made effective use of the electronic format to create an innovative and useful resource.
The Flouble interface is easy to navigate and the most immediately apparent advantage of the electronic format is that the user is spared the tedious cross-referencing and page turning that is unavoidable in printed multiphonic catalogues. From a chromatic scale at the bottom of the screen (see the screen shot below), the user merely selects a lower note with the left mouse button and an upper note with the right, and this brings up a cell that shows the fingering for that multiphonic (in ‘acoustic’ fingering), and other information such as the difficulty level and intonation. In the full version of Floublethe user also has access to a graphic fingering diagram, displayed in the top right corner of the interface, that can be saved as an image file and added to a score. In addition to this, for each of the approximately five hundred double-stops listed, Ittzés has provided audio examples demonstrating how they will sound at different dynamics and at different lengths.
Floublehas a slightly narrower scope than that of other multiphonic catalogues, such as those found in Thomas Howell’s The Avant-Garde Flutist or Robert Dick’s The Other Flute, in that it only includes two-note multiphonics. Ittzés explains the reasons behind this decision in Flouble’s user guide:
“I tried to find the format which is the easiest to use, which includes the most useful and the least superfluous information, and which is logical and easy to survey… Since the spectrum of possible chords is infinitely rich, I had to narrow down the choices; thus this chart includes double sounds which can be played on the flute and result from pairing tones of the twelve-tone system at a range of two and a half octaves. So I avoided micro-intervals and multiphonics with more than two notes.”
Ittzés has also restricted the fingerings listed to those that he considers the most ideal for each pair of pitches. While this could be perceived as a limitation in the software, it does make Flouble a more personal multiphonic catalogue as each fingering has been selected by Ittzés based on his own experimentation and experiences as a flutist. Combined with the audio examples, this will help eliminate a lot of guess work for composers, especially those who don’t have access to a tame flutist. Ittzés explains the criteria he used to select between fingerings, in the cases where there were several options, in the user guide.
Another useful feature made possible by the electronic format is the filtering option. This allows users to sort the double-stops by difficulty, dynamic level, intonation, and more. For instance, the filters can be set so that only the easy double-stops playable on a closed-hole flute will be displayed. There are no filtering options for specific intervals though, so these have to be located manually. Fortunately, the logical organisation of the chart makes this fairly straightforward.
Flouble’s user guide is also an amazing resource. Far from being a simple instruction manual, the user guide is more like a treatise on multiphonic flute playing, offering a detailed explanation of what multiphonics are and how they are produced. Ittzés includes technical and practical advice for flutists and composers using the software.
Flouble 1.0 or Flouble Basic?
The most profound difference between the free version, Flouble Basic,and Flouble 1.0 is that Flouble Basic doesn’t include the full set of graphic fingering diagrams or audio files. Fingerings are available for every double-stop but they are written using a less well known ‘acoustic’ fingering notation system developed by István Matuz. While this notation is trickier to read at first, a detailed explanation is included with Flouble Basic and with a bit of work it doesn’t take too long to pick up. Ittzés uses this notation in his own compositions and while one of its benefits is that it takes up a lot less space in a score, it can look a little threatening to flutists who are unfamiliar with it. A comprehensive chart comparing the features of Flouble Basic and Flouble 1.0 can be found on the Flouble website.
The full version also comes with some great bonus material consisting of video interviews/discussions between Ittzés and Jean-Paul Wright, the scores to five different flute compositions by Hungarian composers and a video of Ittzés performing his own composition Mr Dick is Thinking in Terms of a Blues Pattern. The interviews include a fascinating demonstration lesson on reading acoustic notation and producing multiphonics, as well as a video on ‘special sounds’ in which Ittzés discusses some of the extended techniques that aren’t included in the Flouble software. One of the sounds featured is the so called ‘trumpet’ or ‘horn’ embouchure, a technique that is often neglected in other extended technique manuals.
Overall, Flouble works well as a quick and easy reference for finding multiphonics, with the added advantage of allowing the user to hear what the multiphonic will sound like and, if they wish, save the fingering. These features, combined with the user guide and extensive bonus material, make Flouble a great tool and a valuable addition to the literature on extended techniques and contemporary flute playing.
For more information, or to download Flouble, visit www.flouble.com
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