Robert Dick’s The Other Flute Mocked on Network TV

Robert Dick’s The Other Flute Mocked on Network TV

Robert Dick Photo by Carla Rees Dawson

Robert Dick
Photo by Carla Rees Dawson

Composer and flutist Robert Dick, or rather his much-praised manual on extended techniques The Other Flute, made an unexpected appearance on network TV this week thanks to a Jimmy Fallon sketch. The segment was devoted to a short stack of books that Fallon suggested “you probably should avoid reading this year.”

It’s perhaps naive to expect sharp, music-based humor during late night television, but the 50 seconds Fallon devoted to talking about the book consisted exclusively of sexual innuendo and character assault related the book’s title and the author’s name. During Fallon’s final remarks on the book, he turns the author shot towards the camera and asks, “Does he look like a dick to you?” The audience cheers.

(Fallon’s comments on The Other Flute begin at 2:18.)

The responses under the YouTube posting of the segment are peppered with an uncharacteristic level of smart criticism, and now Dick himself is asking friends and colleagues to reach out to the Tonight Show and support his appearance on a future episode to play The Other Flute and “blow the minds of the national TV audience.” Those who wish to add their comments can contact the show online via the network’s website or Fallon’s Facebook page.

Meanwhile, it’s a book about modern flute technique. Can someone write Fallon some better material at least?

Unfamiliar with Robert Dick’s pioneering work? Catch up with this NewMusicBox piece or buy his book.


UPDATE: Robert Dick offers this further personal insight into the matter.

When I first saw the sketch “Do Not Read — THE OTHER FLUTE” on the Tonight Show, I was incredulous, hurt and angry. This was the same, lame, “dick humor” that I first encountered at age 5. And the jokes were way far from the best I’ve heard (or sometimes made). Then I realized that, in its own bizarre way, a unique opportunity had fallen out of the sky. Because my public persona is really funny and entertaining, I might have the chance to speak up for everyone who has been mocked for being different in some way. Can you hear me, Willy the Whale, with your three voices, shot dead on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House? (I might have gotten the whole multiphonic idea from you, pal!)

And, I might have the chance to play my music for a huge audience and to show the world just how cool creativity really is. That’s why I’m asking everyone to contact the Tonight Show through their FaceBook page or to Tweet them (#InviteRobertDick @FallonTonight) to let them know that you’d love to see me on the show and that I will rock them to the core of their being.

The outpouring of support has touched me deeply. Oft times, we creators in the non-commerial realm feel that very few are listening to our music — in the last couple of days I’ve felt, as never before, that my life and work have made a difference to very many people. I’m truly humbled and grateful.

So please keep the flood of FaceBook posts and Tweets going to Tonight. If its going to happen, it will happen fast, so please act right when you read this.

With gratitude,
Robert Dick

NewMusicBox provides a space for those engaged with new music to communicate their experiences and ideas in their own words. Articles and commentary posted here reflect the viewpoints of their individual authors; their appearance on NewMusicBox does not imply endorsement by New Music USA.

14 thoughts on “Robert Dick’s The Other Flute Mocked on Network TV

  1. Pingback: symphony news | Robert Dick’s The Other Flute Mocked on Network TV + MORE | Stars & Catz

  2. Lloyd Arriola

    Jimmy Fallon is utterly what most of America is–a juvenile lot, thoroughly inartistic. But if Robert Dick can somehow, miraculously, get on the show, tug at his lapels with dignity while they have a few idiotic yuks about him and his book, and blow their minds with colossal flute-playing, then this will be another small victory for good music and great musicians!

  3. Glenn Dekhayser

    So proud of my cousin Robert not only for his accomplishments but for the way he has handled himself during this.

  4. Pingback: Victimusicology: I Am Modern Flute Technique | MT-Headed Blog

  5. Leila Kim

    Hi Everyone!

    Please sign the petition! We have 1,127 signatures and counting! It doesn’t have to be just flute players — musicians everywhere unite! I even have my gym buddies and non-musician friends signing this!

  6. Barbara White

    Thanks for covering this, Molly. I had seen the clip but not RD’s comments. I’m interested by his openness and his creative response and am glad to know about the petition, which I signed. Who knows; maybe this could rejuvenate the 1960s tradition of “I’ve Got a Secret,” which hosted both John Cage and John Cale (the latter in re: Satie’s Vexations”). Poor late-night fans, being deprived of weird music all these years! It’s time to look backforward . . .

  7. Patricia Spencer

    Here’s what I posted to NBC: (though they won’t read it)
    Late night humor often sheds light on issues – but in choosing to ridicule Robert Dick, the Tonight Show has done the opposite, and is encouraging our culture’s utter lack of respect for, and willful ignorance of, arts endeavors. Robert Dick is a consummate performing artist, respected and acclaimed nationally and internationally. He is also wonderfully entertaining with audiences – so their next step needs to be to invite him to perform on their show ASAP!
    Bravo to Robert for finding a way to respond to this — hope it works!!

  8. Martin

    Robert Dick’s book The Other Flute was and remains one of most unselfish acts of musical sharing and communication by a master musician in our time. Rigorous and detailed, it has been THE source for performers and composers who wished to treat the flute as an “instrument” of sound production and not merely a historical artifact. My own compositions for flute are deeply indebted to “The Other Flute” and Robert Dick. If this incident does nothing else it should remind all us to say thanks again Robert!

  9. Lyn

    What kind of self-respecting educated person watches Jimmy Fallon (or late night talk show comedy–blech!) to begin with? I wouldn’t justify Fallon’s low blows by appearing on the show and boosting his ratings. The best way to hurt a media personality is to not give them the attention and views.

  10. Jon

    Whoa whoa whoa, come on people! A late night host found a book that included the words “flute” and “dick” and couldn’t restrain himself from making a bunch of dumb penis jokes. He wasn’t mocking the actual author or the substance of the book or new music or creativity. He was just making lame penis jokes. If he’d found a recipe book called “Delicious sausages” by Peter Fallis, he would have done the same exact bit. Is this really worth causing such an uproar about??!


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