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Circular Breathing

All there is to know about Circular Breathing

About Circular Breathing

Circular breathing gives the flutist the opportunity to breath while playing so longer phrases can be played.

Flute Colors: having fun with extended techniques
to help flutists gain better control

Flute Colors: having fun with extended techniques
to help flutists gain better control

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Adding extended techniques like Circular Breathing to your every day flute studies improves your overall flute control.

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Composers mostely don’t write in the scores that you should use circular breathing. It is your own choise whether or not you use circular breathing. Robert Dick uses these two symbols in his book ‘Circular Breathing for the Flutist’:

This symbol indicates the moment you should start inflating your cheeks
This symbol indicates when you should breath through your nose.

Here is an example of how the symbols are used in a score:


Studying circular breathing on the flute is useful for:
– Embouchure control
– Co-ordination tongue and abdomen
– Good, steady breath control
– Total control



This technique can be used on all flutes.


Not every flutist is able to perform circular breathing.


Composer:   Title: Album:     Publisher: Other techniques:
Offermans, Wil *1957 Studie no. 10: Circular Breathing For the contemporary flutist 3 Flute solo Zimmermann (ZM 29700)  


Author: Title: Publisher: Other techniques:
Dick, Robert Circular Breathing for the flutist Multiple Breath Music Company  
Offermans, Wil For the contemporary flutist Zimmermann (ZM 29700) Windtones, Harmonics, Bamboetones, Multiphonics, Whispertones, Sing & play, Keyclick, Jetwhistle
Wye, Trevor A practise book for the flute 6 Novello  

Sound example

Here you can listen to a short example of circular breathing. I’m playing Xi by Stockhausen.