De La Sonorité: Art Et Technique – Part 1

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The primary goal of “De La Sonorité” is to produce desirable tone production and musicality.  In the introduction of De La Sonorité”, Moyse states that “a beautiful tone, leaving aside any ideal one may choose to make of it, is not exclusively dependent on natural physical aptitudes.  Methodical work, intelligently pursued, can bring about important changes in the lips.  The object of the present work is to give the student the means, through methodical exercises, of developing, modifying and transforming his own abilities and at the same time to offer the possibility of attaining a beautiful sonority on the flute.”   To achieve a beautiful tone, De La Sonorité” is an important daily method book for not only beginners, but also professional flutists.


Timbre and Homogeneity of Tone in the Three Registers

Obtaining a consistent tone quality through the entire range is challenging on the flute.  However, Moyse states that flute players should find their most resonant note on the flute, and use it as a ‘model note’ for the tone qualities of all other notes.  Moyse uses b2 as the starting note, and chromatically descends to the c1.  Moyse states, “I have chosen this note because for all kinds of lips it is one of the easiest to produce. Try it over for a few seconds, and as soon as you feel you have mastered this first note, begin the exercise.”  Figure 1 shows a portion of the first exercise which descends from b2 in half-step slurs.

De La Sonorité Fig 1


This process continues gradually from b2 to d1, so flute players can concentrate on the tone quality of each note and try to change the embouchure as little as possible.  It presents how to play from b2 to d1 naturally by practicing half-step slurs.  Moyse added repeat signs on each small group.  Flute students can try to produce a better tone the second attempt, if the first fails to produce a desirable tone.  In addition, Moyse presents another form of this exercise where the ‘model note’ is also b natural, but instead ascends in half-step slurs.  Once these exercises are mastered in both the descending and ascending forms, the flute student can proceed to alter the half-step intervals to whole steps, and thirds.  Figure 2 shows a portion of the first exercise which ascends from b2 in half-step slurs.

De La Sonorité Fig 1


In my opinion, students can practice several more variations on this exercise within each slurred grouping or work with different time signatures and rhythmic patterns.  As students develop tone control, students will generally turn the embouchure plate inward.  As a result, this produces a mediocre and pinched tone.  Flute students should try to drop the jaw with a relaxed embouchure for the whole phrase of the melody.

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