Posted on 08 September 2010
After my researches into glissandi on flute with Alex Housego (which still needs a proper write-up) I came away feeling that there really needed to be some innovation in flute technology to allow all the quality we associate with a modern orchestral flute but with a far better ability to glissando somehow. Low and behold it may have already happened. I stumbled across Robert Dick and his amazing glissando headjoint (sounds like a bizarre comedy Western). The great thing is it's just a headjoint and fits on to a standard flute. From what I gather it's in the process of being produced in 2010 (see http://www.robertdick.net for more) - how great it would be if this became as standard piece of kit professional players carried around, like a trumpet mute or something. I'm certain it could be used to great effect in the first movement of my The Eye of Night piece.
Here's a video of Robert playing a virtuoso jazz solo on the flute. It's pretty wacky and perhaps not the best clip to demonstrated the serious beauty of the device. Better is the video on this page where Robert talks about the headjoint and gives some simpler examples of use.
Apart from the headjoint, what's also quite interesting in this video is the 'humming whilst playing' technique which you find a lot in jazz sax to give a heightened 'crazy' effect. Klezmer clarinettists also use it, but I've never seen it done by a flute player before. There's also some great overtone stuff going on at 1:05 which I don't even know what he's doing there.