Flute Question: How do I play two sequential same notes in a slur?

I’m an amateur flutist, and I’ve wondered this for a really long time… I’m sure it has a simple answer.

Often in a series of slurred notes, there’ll be two of the same note in a row. If they don’t cross a bar-line, it doesn’t make sense that I should play them as a single note (otherwise, why not write them as, say, a half note rather than two quarter notes?), but since it’s a slur I don’t feel right tonguing the second note.

What’s the standard technique here?

Unless I’m missing something here it means the notes are ‘tied’ i.e. you play one note whose length is the sum of the length of the two written notes.

A tie needn’t occur across a bar line, some note values can only be written by the using ties. Or sometimes whoever annotated the music has used a tie instead of (for example) a dot as to aid readibilty.

I know it’s not always played as a tie because in some cases I know what the song should sound like (e.g. something from a movie soundtrack) and the two notes have to be separated. Of course, when I google for examples, I can’t find any.

I haven’t sight-read music regualrly for a while so I’m a bit hesistant, but you can’t slur two notes of the same pitch, you can only play them as one note.

Do the notes have dots above them? If they do it means they’re meant to be played portato rather than legato.

I don’t play the flute much anymore because of TMJ issues, but I was a pretty serious flutist in high school and college.

I can picture what you’re describing, but I have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen it. Could you scan or take a picture of a bit of sheet music so I can be sure that I have it right?

If it were me, I would ask the conductor what they wanted. I can think of two possible options - one, just hold the note for the duration of the two notes combined, or two, play them as two distinct notes without tonguing the second. This would be kind of difficult if the notes were shorter than eighth notes or so, I guess, since without tonguing, it’s hard to play a quick succession of notes without making it sound like slurring.

Option two would probably sound pretty weird, but if it’s a modern piece, I could see it.

If I recall correctly (and it’s possible that I’m not) I think I was told to tongue very lightly. Just the bare minimum to make each tone distinct. The only way I can think of to describe the sound is kind of like when you’re looping a continuous tone. It’s like the little seam or bump that occurs between loops.

But I haven’t played since my first year of college.

I agree with this. Just break the airstream very softly. If the two notes were intended to be played as a single continuous note, they would be tied, even though already under a slur.

I was given similar advice when I played clarinet. Tongue very lightly. Alternatively (and I don’t know how well this works on the flute) constrict your throat to break the airstream momentarily, then resume breathing WITHOUT tonguing the next note. Done properly, it articulates the second note while maintaining the flow of the slur.

I second Biffy regarding notation. Generally, a tie will be written so that it includes ONLY the two tied notes. If a tie extends over several measures, there will be another tie from the second note to the third, from the third to the fourth, etc. If a tie occurs in a slurred passage (as described in the OP), the tie will be explicitly notated within the slur.

This has to do with the rhythm and time signature. Let’s say the time signature is 6/8, and the general rhythm is OOM-pah-pah OOM-pah-pah. If you want to slur together beats 3 and 4 (pah-OOM), you wouldn’t replace them with a quarter note. You’d leave them as eighth notes, with a slight separation and a slight accent on beat 4.

I’ll agree also. This is what I was taught–just a slight break in the airstream.

Just one thing: are you sure that, in this particular piece, it is a slur and not a phrase marking? If it’s just a phrase marking, it just means that the section is played legato without even a break for breathing.

There are several ways to tell the difference, but the one that seems the most common in my memory is that a phrase marking will often not actually touch the starting and ending notes, and there will likely be a bunch of them throughout the piece, with few or any notes not under them (unless there is a sim. marking.)

If you are certain it’s a slur, then I agree with everyone else: break the air slightly either with a slight tonguing or by restricting the air (idealy with the diaphragm.) You also may want to experiment with decreasing the volume of the end of the first note, and then suddenly increasing to start the second. The point is that it must sound like two distinct notes while still sounding like a slur.

Heck, depending on your piece and proficiency, you may want to experiment with lightly tonguing all notes in a slur. I’ve heard it done before, and I know you have to with some instruments.

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(Not a flute player, but trained in bowing technique). IMO, I think you need to ask the conductor or make your own judgement call based on the passage, as often a single note is written as two notes tied together for reasons of clarity. For instance in a large group of continuous eighth notes, it can be easier to read if everything is written as eighth notes with a tie, rather than sticking a quarter note in there and messing up the visual flow. Also, someone might write syncopation with a tie, to make it easier to read.

Thanks everyone! I will scan an example to show what I mean. I did what I thought the logical thing was and simple lightly tongued/broke my airstream.