Jaimie Lee Mendoes - flute expert

How to play the Hamburger Sonata

Learn an easy approach to the well-known flute sonata by Carl Philip Emanuel Bach

In this video, Jaimie teaches you how to approach the beautiful "Hamburger" sonata by Carl Philip Emanuel Bach.

Released on June 1, 2016

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hello, everyone, this is Jaimie Lee Mendoes, the flute expert on virtualsheetmusic.com. Today we're going to talk about Hamburger Sonata by C.P.E. Bach. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was a fifth son of J.S. Bach, and he is a figure who's in between baroque and classical era. I think it's because of what Schumann said about C.P.E. Bach, but a lot of people tend to think he wasn't as good of a composer as his father, J.S. Bach, or he wasn't as talented but in my opinion, I think he had a very distinctive, his own style and strengths.

One of them is these lyrical, very singable, sweet sounding melodies. And so as a performer, I think it is important to bring out those qualities. As with any piece, I think one of the most important things is to pick the right tempo. So for this piece, the same goes. So it says allegretto, and so it shouldn't be quite allegro. I see a lot of performers, a lot of flute players, who pick so little too of an edgy tempo that sounds a little too unsettled. To me, especially the first movement, particularly, should be a little relaxed and lyrical and sweet sounding movement. So maybe, for me, it's something like this:

[Plays music]

For me, it's easier to pick the right tempo when I think about what the keyboard is playing. So if you look at the full score, not just the flute part, then you'll see that the harpsichord or the piano plays these eighth note figures. And then when you think about these eighth notes going a little faster, like, "bum, bum, bum, bum," then that's already in the allegro realm.

So I think it needs to sound a little bit pulled back, "pum, pum, pum, pum," so that it says in the allegretto or even closer to andante tempo. So if you pick that comfortable tempo for you, then the rest is pretty easy. But, one more thing that you want to keep in mind when you think about your accompaniment is that since the harpsichord or the piano is playing these eighth note figures, it's very easy to follow those eighth notes and then play along with those beats.

[Plays music]

You know what I mean? So instead of actually feeling those beats, I think it is much better to actually think about the big picture. And think about the whole phrase. So the first phrase goes until the fourth measure, actually. So then it'll sound more like:

[Plays music]

So it'll sound a little bit whole. That applies to the rest of the piece. Always thinking about longer phrases. Another thing that I'd like to stress is a little bit of a rubato. Whenever you have a repetitive sixteenth note figures, for example, in the measure fifteen.

[Plays music]

So I'm not quite spending too much time on the first note or the first note of each beat. I'm not quite like pressing them down, but it is nice to give them a little bit of a shape by doing a very slight rubato. So, let me play one more time:

[Plays music]

Yeah, so that way, it sounds like there is a structure.

Another thing that I'd like to point out is if you look at the measure 35 and 36, we have these 30-second and then sixteenth notes runs and then we have sixteenth rests. So it's very easy to be late on those notes after the rests, so just be ready. Don't relax you embouchure, just be ready right there so that those sixteenth notes are right on the beat.

[Plays music]

Again, you can do a little bit of rubato on the first notes of each 30-second groups

[Plays music]

I like to do a little bit of ritardando, as you saw in the measure 38, and then do those coming up figures be as a prep to go back into the original tempo. But it's up to you. You don't have to do that. That's just my personal addition.

And the last thing I'd like to talk about is the high notes. Not all of the high notes in this movement, but most of them are not on the strong beat. That means we want to treat them very lightly. So don't stress them because on the flute, it's so easy to stress high notes because it's high notes and on the flute, that's one of our prides to play very loud and big, high notes. But when you play pieces like this, we want to really have those delicate and gentle sounding high notes. So especially in the measure 55, for example. Let me demonstrate from the measure before.

[Plays music]

Instead of really hitting that note very, very hard, just kind of lift it. Of course, in order to do this successfully, you would have to have a very good pressure, a very good support, but also a very strong embouchure that I talked about in my first video. So those things are, I would say, the main points of this movement. And unfortunately, I don't think I can cover the second movement as well in this video. But if you would like me to go over the second movement as well in a separate video, then leave a comment down below, not on YouTube, but on virtualsheetmusic.com.

And on a side note, if you would like to hear me perform this whole piece with a harpsichord, along with some other Telemann quartets and Mozart and J.S. Bach, then you're welcome to come to our concerts...our concert on June 4th, that's Saturday. If you are in the Los Angeles area, then I would like to see you there. If you would like to come, then leave a comment down below as well so that I can give you the venue address and the time and more details about it as well. So I hope that was helpful and I hope all of you have a great June. And I will see you in July.
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User Comments and Questions

Comments, Questions, Requests:

John Eichrodt * VSM MEMBER * on September 7, 2016 @7:46 am PST
Thank you from two amateur flautists in France. We learned quite a bit. You are clear and care about our flute playing. Thanks.

John and Cornelie.

P.S. Some flutists hold the flute at an angle to blow down into the flute and to hit the embouchure at more of a side angle thus changing the quality of the tone .... Much appreciated the advice to place the lower lip on rather than against the lip plate..
Erika Lantry * VSM MEMBER * on June 1, 2016 @6:00 pm PST
Jamie, what was the short piece playing when you first came on camera - when all the sheet music kind of streamed by? I didn't find it in the printed music for the Hamburger Sonata.
I have heard it before but can't place it. Smiley Face
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on June 2, 2016 @9:15 am PST
Hi Erika and thank you for your question. I am sure Jaimie will be happy to answer personally to your question, but just to help, I was wondering: are you referring to this video? And if so, to the first sheet music example shown on the video? Please, let me know. Thank you again!
Erika Lantry * VSM MEMBER * on June 2, 2016 @10:05 am PST
No, the music in the intro of the actual lesson and some sheet music streaming by before Jamie starts the lesson. It could be Mozart, a minuet, maybe.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on June 2, 2016 @10:28 am PST
Oh yes, that's the Mozart flute concerto No. 1 in G Major, the Rondo' final movement:


I love it!
Erika Lantry * VSM MEMBER * on June 2, 2016 @10:55 am PST
Thanks so much. Printed already.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on June 2, 2016 @3:02 pm PST
You are very welcome Erika! Please, let me know if you have any other questions, I'll be glad to hear from you, any time! Enjoy the great Mozart :
Jamie - host, on June 2, 2016 @10:22 pm PST
Hi Erika, it looks like it's already taken care of. I hope you enjoy the concerto and if you have any questions regarding the concerto or that particular movement please let me know!
Erika Lantry * VSM MEMBER * on June 3, 2016 @9:15 am PST
Thank you. I am presently just listening and following on paper : Then it will be learning it and playing for my own enjoyment.
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