Improvisation on the Magic Flute

or whom is this workshop intended?
For both pupils and tutors. For beginning musicians as well as more advanced ones.

It’s very easy to improvise on the Magic Flute, because there are so many different scales built into the instrument.

A scale is a sequence of consecutive notes, e.g. C D E F G A B C


This is the scale of C Major. C is the key note in this scale. It’s also called the Ionic scale. There are many different scales, and they all sound a bit different.

Try out a number of different scales on the Magic Flute

The nice thing about scales is that they’re all different. One may sound sad, and another one sounds happy. One will be mystical, and another one harmonious.

A lot of theory on scales is available, but we’re not going to dwell on that. The Magic Flute is very well suited for learning by trying. And a lot of information is already available on the Internet. For mentors and tutors I can recommend this site

Improvisation on a single chord

1. Select the Blues 1 scale (C  & Am pentatonic) on the Magic Flute

2. Select the Flute or Pan Flute sound

3. Play this track or download the MP3

You can play the notes in a legato style. This means that you play the notes smooth and connected, playing several notes in one breath. You can also play notes non-legato, which means that each note should be articulated separately. This is an important technique. You shouldn’t always play all the notes of a scale consecutively. Try skipping notes, e.g. try out playing an A followed by an E. Another type of variation is playing a note loudly or softly. At the bottom of this page there’s a video where Karen demonstrates the various techniques described here.

1. Select the Blues 1 scale on the Magic Flute

2. Select a typical Blues instrument like Harmonica, Saxophone or Guitar

3. Play this track or download the MP3

Are you able to play along with the theme (there are three notes, D, C and A)? Can you alternate improvising with playing the theme? If you listen to the theme very closely you may notice that there’s an additional A just before the D. Can you hear it? Can you play it?

Additional information for this lesson

A chord is a group of three or more notes sounding at the same time. A pianist and a rhythm-guitar player typically play chords. But different instruments combined (e.g. three horns) can also produce a chord together. Are there any songs that have only one chord? Absolutely, quite a few hits have been written which employ only one chord! Some examples:

• Electric avenue • Eddy Grant

• Exodus • Bob Marley

• On The Road Again • Canned Heat

• Showbiz kids • Steely Dan

• Bad to the Bone • George Thorogood

• Bullet the blue sky • U2

• Chain of fools • Aretha Franklin

• We will rock you • Queen

• Hey, Bo Diddley • Bo Diddley

• Lime in the coconut • Harry Nilson

In many songs, it’s the “groove” which really makes the song, a rhythmic interplay between e.g. drums, bass and keyboard which just makes you want to move. Hiphop, trance, ambient and lots of other styles of modern music are based on only one chord. But also in rock, musicians may often “groove” to a single chord.

This video demonstrates legato and non-legato playing:

Workshop Magic Flute

1. Improvisation on the Magic Flute
2. Choice of notes and note usage
3. Playing songs for beginners
4. The power of the pentatonic scale
5. Turn your computer into a Magic Flute sound module
6. “Jazz up your switch”
7. Working with the iPad in combination with the Magic Flute

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