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On Flute Runs - Printable Version

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On Flute Runs - Terry93D - 04-08-2020

  • Start on the root note of the chord playing at the time, and climb chromatically (or diatonically, or by whole tone, or by whatever scale you're using - these are, fundamentally, scalar runs) to the target note.¬†
  • Runs are generally written as triplets, quintuplets, sextuplets, or septuplets. If, for example, you are ascending from C to C an octave above, then C through to B will be written as a septuplet, and the final C of the run will be, depending on how you're using the run, a staccato eighth, a staccato fourth, or even the first note of a melodic phrase. (Obviously, which kind of tuplet you use will be dependent on how far your run is stretching.)
  • Though you will never find it in notation, a run generally has a dynamic arc the starts at some level of quiet and then gets louder. The target note, being the highest note, is also the loudest. Performers will do this automatically. However, sample libraries do not always follow strict dynamic realism, and therefore you will want to add this in manually with your modwheel/CC1/CC11/velocity.
  • A pre-recorded runs library, or a genuine orchestra, will bring you the greatest realism. As you are likely not to have these, however, legato woodwinds will smooth it out immensely. (Obviously, the instruments performing the run should be playing monophonically.)
  • A good general rule to follow is that the most important notes are the first one and the last one. Both should land directly on the beat. Everything else in between can have a "blur" to it. If you have a single woodwind instrument, this is difficult. If you have multiples - say triple woodwinds (three individual flutes) - this is easier: one wind can carry an exact, quantized run, and you can input the run manually for the other instruments.
  • Runs that ascend and descend - say from C to G and back down to C - work similarly but not identically. As a general rule, the lower the note of your run, the quieter it will be, the higher, the louder. A run that ascends and descends will do the same dynamically.
  • Within a virtual orchestra setting, your run can, of course, use any kind of exotic scale you like, skip notes however you like. If, however, you are recording with a live orchestra, say for film, or television, or game music, then the orchestra is going to be sight-reading your music. Sometimes, that very first sight-read performance is the only performance of a cue, and that's what's used. It depends on the budget and on the players.

    Wind players will have practiced runs in the common scales already: major, minor, chromatic, whole-tone. I assume the modal scales also. (Perhaps octatonic and pentatonic also, but I imagine that these two are somewhat less common. I am certain that the four mentioned prior are the most common, beyond that, less so, so take with a grain of salt.)

    In a recording situation, therefore, it may be advisable to keep to runs in those common scales. Skipping notes and exotic scales may introduce problems in recording. And, once again, depending on your budget, you may not have the time to go through the music a few times to get that run down. So be aware of that if you are composing a mock-up. (That said, I have no personal experience in this area, and session musicians in Los Angeles and London are reputedly unbelievably good at sight-reading. So I may well be incorrect.)

With thanks to Chris Spyratos. Smile


RE: On Flute Runs - Nayrb - 04-08-2020

A great resource, Terry! Thank you. I needed something like this.


RE: On Flute Runs - Chris Spyratos - 04-08-2020

Wow Terry, thanks for taking the time to write all these! I hope I can put them to practice soon!

Could it be that the reason for using septuplets is to have the root note on a strong beat when using 7tone scales in an octave scalar run? Reminds me of the use of 8tone scales in bebop jazz.


RE: On Flute Runs - Terry93D - 04-08-2020

(04-08-2020, 02:09 PM)Chris Spyratos Wrote: Wow Terry, thanks for taking the time to write all these! I hope I can put them to practice soon!

Could it be that the reason for using septuplets is to have the root note on a strong beat when using 7tone scales in an octave scalar run? Reminds me of the use of 8tone scales in bebop jazz.

It's possible. I mean, I was referring specifically to major or minor or modal scales there, but it makes sense. I think I'll go and add that the root and target notes should always land on the beat.