24 Petite Etudes

Marcel Moyse’s 24 Little Melodic Etudes provides a learning platform for flutists to open their mind to the possibilities for musical expression. This book has helped me grow as a musician, strengthening my basic fundamentals through short, simple melodies, each highlighting a particular technical or interpretative problem.

In order to understand how these etudes have helped me, here is a brief synopsis for etude #1. Moyse has written a simple melody to help work on rudimentary, expressive fundamentals. At first glance, one will notice the need to play with a certain level of dynamic control. The dynamics outline the basic phrase structure of the melody similar to that of the Classical style: two, eight bar phrases that are subdivided into 2+2+4 bars. Here, one may practice the “least-more-most” principal to emphasize the written dynamics within each phrase.

While etude #1 highlights several fundamental issues, Moyse’s idea of vibrato had the greatest impact on me. Moyse believed that vibrato should be used for phrasing and to “enhance the tone”, which I had not previously considered. Along with other key elements, such as speed, depth, and placement of vibrato, I would use it mindlessly and where it felt right, not considering how it may come across or affect a phrase. For example, in etude #1, vibrating on stronger beats and none on weaker beats is preferred; otherwise, it may have a different affect, possibly an undesirable one.

Marcel Moyse’s 24 Little Melodic Etudes has been a valuable book throughout my studies, heightening my awareness of problems previously overlooked. I have learned more effective ways to bring out expression and how techniques implemented in these melodies can be applied to other flute literature. These etudes are accessible for teaching the basic elements of musical expression for flutists of all ages!