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The labium actions are probably the most typical extended technique of the Paetzold flute, as the "labium" (the main opening from which the air flows out of the instrument) is physically available only on recorders, organ pipes and instruments with similar functionality. The action consists in movements of the right hand that partially covers the labium and creates air perturbations in its proximity. The hand can be used in a cup-like form like a brass instrument mute or using two fingers in a flat position. As the right hand must be free, this technique is reserved for key positions that require the left hand only (about a fifth of extension).

Transitions between the various stages of labium actions are usually quite effective. When the labium is completely closed we obtain a pure breathing noise, as no harmonic vibration of air is possible, whereas on the intermediate levels the sound of the fingered position starts to get lower and more noisy, in a downward glissando that may cover a minor third or more, especially when used in conjunction with dynamic changes. The interaction between labium and air pressure (dynamics) is the basis of the many complex gestures that can be created with Paetzold flutes.
One of the simplest labium gestures on a single note is to start with labium open followed by closing it, as to get a downward detuning, and finally opening it again. This produces timbrical and pitch variations that can vary from a subtle microtonal flex to a more pronounced effect, like the sound warping to noise and back to sound.

The decreasing dynamics can help the labium action during its closing movement to achieve more pronounced downward glissandos and a smoother extinction of sound, while during its re-opening a crescendo can enhance the raising of the pitch. It is also possible to use the dynamics the opposite way, i.e. augmenting the pressure while closing the labium with two fingers. This tends to eliminate the detuning and rather produces a highpass filtering and possibly some high overtones.

Of course, a combination with many articulations is possible. The double staccato is especially effective.

Listen Labium Gliss


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