August 2006 Convention
Pittsburgh, PA

The Flute: Myth and Magic

August 13, 2006

On Sunday morning, Barbara Croft, PhD, mischievously welcomed us to Sunday morning worship. After touring four categories of myths and folktales (about the origin of the flute, in which there is a flute-playing trickster, tories of lost love with an ironic twist and in which there is a gift of a flute), Croft summarized how myths parallel and illuminate the journeys of those who chose to play the flute. The flutist seeks out the old woman and accepts nourishment from her. She becomes a mentor who points the way. But, he must find his own way. He must overcome great adversity. His imperfection, the source of his suffering, is the quality that brings recognition and healing by the divine. A flute is a divine gift. The flute leads to a romantic love that becomes a divine and transcendent love.

Barbara Croft

Barbara Croft

Croft admonished the audience that there is a duty and necessity to understand thoroughly a myth, noting details, each of which has symbolic meaning essential to the tale, and to do this work in order to dare to perform myth-inspired repertoire with authenticity. A caveat from this reporter: not all composers who choose mythic titles integrate story and music as artfully as did Debussy! It is our burden as performers to discriminate a pretty piece from one infused with symbolism.

To our students who wonder why they must tangle with music literacy and then also theory and music history, we can say: to unravel the secrets of creative minds who left for us notes which only we can bring to life, and to become creative ourselves as we find new language to enrich our own contributions to the repertoire.

—Ginny Atherton