Tone Development Through Interpretation

The Artistic Legacy of Marcel Moyse

Marcel Moyse is a name that evokes connotations of mesmerizing artistry, operatic lyricism, an artist’s palette of colors, and a roundness of sound that is rich with beauty. Most flutists associate Moyse with his infamous long tone exercise from De la sonorité, which is so well known that it has become the universal birdcall of the flutist. In order to help flutists develop techniques of phrasing, tone color, and flexibility, Moyse compiled many publications, one of which was Tone Development Through Interpretation. I became enamored of the Tone Development book and the Moyse School of flute playing when I began my studies with Julia Bogorad-Kogan at the age of 15. I remember the first time I heard her play live, with a sound rich with color and interest that is so characteristic of the Moyse School. I had no idea the flute was capable of producing a sound of that quality. Julia introduced me to a whole new world of musicianship through the Tone Development book, affectionately known as the “Melody Book”. The first melody I studied was No. 18, Entr’acte from Massenet’s Werther. In this melody, I learned to sing through intervals, that composers typically write phrases segments of three, and to color the syncopation in m.24. Each melody taught me something new about communicating musical ideas. I developed an arsenal of techniques to add depth to my playing, including the use of tone color, dynamics, vibrato, and rubato. The exercises at in the end of the book from 1A to E5, helped me develop an evenness of sound between register extremes, from a round and rich low register to a shimmering and flexible high register.

It has been nine years since my introduction to the melody book. The cover fell off, and the pages are worn with love. I begin each practice session with one of my favorite melodies and continue to teach the stylistic traditions associated with Tone Development to my own flute students. I sincerely wish for the legacy of Marcel Moyse to live on in the hearts of many flutists to come.