August 2007 Convention
Albuquerque, NM

Workshop: Intro to Venezuelan Music (with Huascar Barradas)

Huascar Barradas’ workshop on Venezuelan music attracted a roomful of flutists of all ages, eager to learn how to play this exciting and energetic South American music. Barradas immediately set the mood by playing a bit of the well-known “El Diablo Suelto,” first in a typical Western classical style, then switching to the Venezuelan style. The audience quickly understood that articulation and “feel” were the key differences!

In Venezuelan articulation, space is important. Instead of the usual “too” articulation, the Latin tonguing is much shorter and also more varied. In a series of eighth notes, the notes are never all articulated the same way. Varying the consonants and vowels gives more energy and momentum. For example, the eighth notes in the opening bars of “El Diablo Suelto” are played teh-dit, teh-dit, teh-dit, etc., with a softer and much shorter articulation on the second note. We were encouraged to experiment with various types of tonguing and vowel shapes.

Huascar Barradas

Huascar Barradas

Another key element to playing Venezuelan music is the use of very fast vibrato on the important (often accented) notes. These notes need to be played like short bell tones, with lots of energy at the beginning of the note.

To help get into the “feel” of this highly syncopated music, we were encouraged to practice playing against off-beat rhythms by setting the metronome to click on beats 2 and 4. Barradas encouraged us to first sing a phrase several times to get a more laid-back feel. By singing, one can also experiment with various consonant and vowel sounds. Then it’s easier to transfer those sounds to flute playing.

Barradas closed out his session with these words of wisdom: “Try something new every time you play. Never play a piece the same way twice. Keep inspired. Keep the joy. Inspire others. Rescue the joy and happiness of music!”

I couldn’t wait to get home and do just that!

—Rosene Rohrer