It was a joy to receive the visit of “Olavo Tengner Barros” here at GaitaMaker!

Olavo is a wonderful flutist, teacher of modern concert flute at the “Porto Music Conservatory” and at the “Lisbon Superior School of Music”. He is also arguably the utmost specialist in the “Baroque Traverso” in Portugal, and – to no surprise – he teaches the “Traverso” at the Early Music Masters course at the “Porto Superior School of Music and Performing Arts”.

This is extremely impressive in itself, but it is in fact Olavo’s passion for music, his willingness to speak to everyone, to listen, discuss and learn from anyone that is most remarkable… and… in the process we get to learn a lot from him too, which is great!

When we met the first time we discussed – and mostly agreed – that musical instrument must come first! They must EXIST, right? Otherwise we are stuck with singing.

Yes, at the core music is music – An universal language no matter the context. Yes! Music itself is the most important thing, but shortly after, as a very close second, come the musical instruments, right? And if you look at music from the stand point of the instruments themselves, like I tend to do, you will have to agree they are far more important than genres (classical, popular, early music…), repertoires, venues or audiences…
It’s the instruments that shine on stage! We are there to make them shine, not really to shine ourselves.

I think most musicians will agree, that we come together easily, in a little brotherhood, when we find someone that plays our instrument (or similar) no matter what the music style. We trade notes, and share experiences, and feel each other’s pains and complains…
(If you feel musicians do not do share at all… well… maybe you you are hanging out with the wrong sort of people.)

So, musical instruments, of EVERY KIND, have to be made available for young people to play. No one can love something they do not know or have any real access to – This seems self-evident.

To this respect me and Olavo, on one hand talked about the possibility that early music flutes could be made available in other keys and concert pitches, although keeping timbre, fingering and temperament. This would make the Traverso suited to other modern uses in different contexts and venues, that way bringing awareness to the REAL early music.

On another hand, we discussed that a more profound study of early music instruments with measurements and replication of ancient instruments could perhaps bring us a step closer and closer to (so called) historical accuracy… (And man we could speak hours about that!)
You see, I think it was Olavo’s open mind and real world experience as a musician that made conversation easy. I could tell that his interest in the construction of woodwinds, comes from daily “tackling” the shortcomings of his “Traversos”, and of course his honest desire to promote and develop the knowledge of early music flutes in Portugal. In short, I felt he is a “bagpiper at heart”! – Like me, he is pushing forward an instrument that most Portuguese people don’t really know or understand.

Most people might not realize it, but we have in Portugal an array of wonderful early music instruments – some in museum exhibitions for people to see, others are stored away, just waiting to be studied… and hopefully played at important concerts a couple of times a year – wouldn’t that be grand? To hear the same instrument sound again, some 350 years after its construction?

Photo: Real Ivory flute, at the Lisbon Museum of Music – XVIII d.C. , France(?) – Object: MM139

You know guys, writing this text got me excited! I have a proposal:

– Maybe all the “Olavo’s” and “Gonçalo’s” out there in the world (let’s start with Portugal shall we?), could get together for a cup of coffee and “take a crack” (no pun intended) at the early musical instruments’ replication in Portugal.

Come on guys! Who will join us?