The 24 Little Melodic Studies at first glance look simple almost like something a beginner could manage. I think they are often treated like this as well. In reality, they are the foundation to excellent flute playing and artistry in music making and not to be underestimated.
They are a map to skills that aid great interpretation and control of flute playing. The player can get as little or as much they they wish from these studies. It all pivots on approach and the time and focus the player wishes to put into them. A player can blow their way through these studies or bring them to life and get them to sing. Moyse used “love “ a lot and a great quote of his is “ you wouldn’t say I love you with an ugly nasal voice” . This is the message everywhere in this book. Get the flute to ring, sing and make wonderful musical statements of each study.
Each study deals with a crucial musical skill whether it be phrasing, developing a story and learning bell tones like No.1 or key colour which is all of them, different types of mezzo staccato like the variation in No 2, staccatos, important beats of the bar, cross slurring, and the list goes on and on right to No 24 where I feel Moyse is saying to the player “have you learnt anything from me?” the skeleton of the study is in E minor the dominant of Study No.2 and I feel Moyse is asking the player to look at skeletons and dig deep into the music they are playing.
Basically Moyse is asking us to think about everything we do and play.
- Choose wisely how we phrase. Tell a story with our playing.
- Be aware of what key we are in. Colour is so important.
- Shape our phrases tastefully and musically.
- Choose our articulations wisely and musically.
- Be a thoughtful and educated musician is the end result of this book.
There is a musical message in each one of these studies which done properly will change the player and their playing forever. So why would a player spend time on these studies? Because it will change them forever musically and take their playing to a whole new level
So Who was Marcel Moyse?
Marcel Moyse was a French flautist and teacher, he had a profound influence on flute and woodwind playing in the 20th Century. His influence and educational, inspirational books still influence almost every flautist today. He was born in 1889 in St. Amour, France. As a young boy, he often accompanied his grandfather who played cello, to the local community chorus rehearsals and opera performances. When Moyse was twelve, his grandfather Alfred enrolled him in Besançon’s municipal music school, where he received disciplined education in solfege. At this time he also began taking flute lessons with a local flutist named Angelloz.
In 1905 Moyse became a student of Paul Taffanel at the Paris Conservatory. Moyse learned the importance of musicality rather than the technicality of the previous generation. This helped influence Moyse’s philosophy and approach to flute playing, which emphasized the responsibility of the musician to reproduce the musical expression that the composer intended rather than to use the music as a vehicle for demonstrating virtuosity. Trevor Wye said about Moyse’s musical ideas “Moyse was trying to establish an intelligent approach to making music which begins with practicing to reproduce what the composer wrote, or at least what the player believes the composer meant in his score.” (Wye, 1993) After his graduation from the Paris Conservatory, he was selected to be Philippe Gaubert’s teaching assistant.
In 1932, Moyse was promoted to Professor of flute at the Paris Conservatory, where he would remain until he fled the city when the Germans invaded Paris in 1940 (Camp, 1997). In 1949, Moyse immigrated to the United States and bringing the French school of flute playing to many North American through his pedagogical career there. Here he wrote his Tone Development Through Interpretation influenced by Dame Nellie Melba and his travels with her and Blanche Honneger.
Moyse is still teaching and inspiring from beyond the grave flute players of all standards. His passion for tonal beauty and expression lives on in all his books as well as his desire to develop and encourage thoughtful, educated flute players and musicians. We are so lucky to have had such a great legacy left to us .
Here is an excellent article by Cate Hummel on Moyse.
A Beautiful Look at Moyse
A really beautiful look at Moyse and the message I get is passion is so important interpretation. He played with passion and taught with passion . I look at this video quite often and pick up a little nuance every time.
One Of My Favourite Recordings
One of my favourite recordings of his: Incredible when one thinks of when this was recorded in 1935 . So important we don’t lose his focus on beauty and depth of expression and get carried away with the fingers at the expense of the musical connection the listener and the wishes of the composer.