Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by PrettyT, Feb 10, 2007.

  1. PrettyT

    PrettyT New Friend

    Jan 21, 2007
    I picked up a few books the other day to include Characteristic Studies by Herbery Clarke as recommended. At the beginning is a discussion about Single, Double and Triple tonguing. Reading this article lead to into a conversation with an old friend, which drew out this question. Is there anything wrong with tongue at the back of the lips, vice the roof of the mouth?

    Go experts go!!!

    (I love this site)
  2. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

    Mar 21, 2006
    If you mean that your tongue hits the lips to stop the sound rather than elsewhere, then yes I wouldn't advise it.
    If your tongue hits your lips, it stops then from vibrating, but but you tongue on the back of your top teeth area then you just interrupt the airstream and not the buzzing.
  3. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    Say a number of words that begin with 't" like took, two, tea, time, tall.... Notice where the tongue hits. It doesn't hit the lips. There's a school of playing that subscribes to the notion that articulation mimics speech. that's what I do.

    There are other schools of thought that Herbert L. Clarke used where the tip of the tongue rests gently behind the row of bottom teeth while the center of the tongue does the articulating. Again, the tongue doesn't touch the lips. It's been called "anchor tonguing" which is not a term I care for but that's how the majority of people that do this refer to it.

    There are still others that advocate very strongly to tongue between the teeth and strike the lips. I don't know wthat it's called.

    Ther are myriad opinions about tonguing and everyone's convinced they are right, so, there you are.

  4. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    The tongue is a very powerful muscle, and pound for pound, perhaps the strongest in the body. Strength doesn't automatically lead to endurance, however, and sometimes a new way of tonguing seems to give fantastic results for a few minutes. Try the Arban triple-tongue exercises, playing one after another until your tongue starts to revolt, then switch to the doble-tongue exercises. The tongue's strength can also work against us when we try to tongue "harder" to make the tonguing "cleaner." More often than not, relaxing the tongue, letting it "melt in our mouths" can improve our tonguing greatly. For me, the tongue behind the teeth is the quickest,most musical way to multiple tongue, although in practice Imight do something else, depending on the piece, the register, and volume.

    Have fun!
  5. PrettyT

    PrettyT New Friend

    Jan 21, 2007
    haha i think the melt in out mouth part really got you point across =P

    still got a bit of work to do before i can start on triple tonguing excercises though
  6. lonelyangel

    lonelyangel Pianissimo User

    Nov 8, 2003
    Hi Pretty T. I will start by answering your original question a simply as I can.

    No there is nothing ‘wrong’ with tonguing at the back of the lips. In fact in trumpet playing one could say that there are very few absolute rights or wrongs. There are many different techniques which are very successfully employed by highly accomplished players, often arriving at very similar results by different routes. What is interesting to me at the moment is discovering that some routes to achieving similar results are more efficient than others. In other words two players might sound almost identical in a certain aspect of their playing but one might be working very hard compared to the player employing the more efficient technique. Also both players might be playing that way quite naturally and be unaware that they had different approaches. that it what is so great about this forum - it is a place to share and a constant source of new and challenging information.

    With regard to tonguing I have developed several positions which I will use in various combinations depending on the musical context or the particular phrase I am playing, often switching between several articulation sounds or vowel shapes in one phrase. These range from a barely audible ‘luh’or ‘lah’ through a very soft ‘duh’, ‘dah’ or ‘doo’ - almost halfway between an L and a D sound. As the tongue moves further forward along the roof of the mouth towards the front teeth this D articulation becomes harder and more percussive and the vowel shape can change ‘deh’, ‘dee’ or ‘di’ (as in the word pit). Then there is a consonant which is between a D and a T eventually passing through the more commonly evoked T sounds (too tah tay tea ti etc. ) which Manny talks about in his post. At this point the tip of the tongue is touching the teeth, maybe high up where the teeth meet the roof of the mouth or maybe lower down towards the bottom of the teeth where the top lip is. I also use what Manny refers to as the anchored tongue position, particularly in the extreme upper register. where the syllable articulated is more like a ‘tsss’.

    I do a large amount of my tonguing right at the bottom of the front teeth where the tip of my tongue is touching the bottom of my top lip through the gap between my teeth. In this position my tongue is completely blocking the air stream and stopping my lips from vibrating. This obviously is of relevance to Brekelefuws post and whilst I understand what you are warning against I do feel that this tongue position is very important to master - particularly if you want to play commercial pop, rock, latin. funk or jazz lead trumpet, although it certainly can be employed in some contemporary classical music too.
    This tongue position can give a crystal clear metallic bell like attack to the notes which is needed for very high intensity sffz attacks, sometimes called shock notes or popped notes and also for the exhilarating sfzp cresc effects which are one of the most exciting sounds a brass section can make, in my opinion.
    This is possible because the air pressure can be built up behind the tongue a fraction of a second before the note is struck. The tongue only needs to move in one direction, ie backwards, away from the lips - rather than striking forward as the air is supplied and then back out of the air stream, as with conventional tonguing. The syllable is something like an explosive P with a hard T behind it. If you imagine you had a grain of rice stuck on the underside of your top lip and went to spit it off, that is a similar sensation.

    For the short shock or popped notes the tongue returns to this position, abruptly cutting off the air stream, usually called tongue stopping. Again this is a very important technique to master to be a complete player, especially of beat music, because often a note needs to have a very precise, neat ending. Sometimes as a special effect this cut off can have the same impact as a sfz start to a note - most often however the tongue stop is simply used to ensure rhythmic integrity and intensity throughout a phrase - ensuring a section plays as one. You will often see marked on parts instructions such as ‘off on three’ usually shortened to -3 or -4 1/2 for example. This doesn’t mean that you stop blowing on the third beat but rather keep blowing as if you were going to play a 4th beat but stop the air stream abruptly with the tongue on 3 (or 2 or 1 or 4 1/2, as marked).

    The other advantage of returning the tongue to this starting position is that you are now ready to play the next accented, popped or stung note. In fact you do not even have to stop blowing. The tongue can just act as a valve shutting off or opening a constant air stream.

    It is probably very important to state at this point that I am not advocating this kind of tonguing over all others and certainly the basis of trumpet articulation should be a gentle and graceful use of the tongue - I do like the idea of letting the tongue melt in the mouth.
    The other important thing is to blend with the section and listen to the leader - whatever you do make sure that your notes do not speak before the lead player, you must listen, follow and support. It certainly would not be appreciated if I were to use hard tonguing and tongue stopping all the time when I play with the Symphony Orchestras in London or on orchestral recording sessions but even there, it can be the brilliance and impact of this very technique which is required from me.

    I have the utmost respect for my classical colleagues especially for the beauty, grace and ease of their production. In most of my practice it is that quality which I aspire to. I always try to practice the things which don’t come so naturally to me in order to become a more whole trumpet player.

    This way of tonguing was, as a self taught player from an early age, the way I naturally produced notes on the trumpet. As I became more sophisticated as a player, I began to develop more subtle production and greater control over the variety of articulations needed to blend with others, in a broad musical spectrum. However, there was a time when I was made to feel that this way of tonguing was bad, wrong - or even to be ridiculed. Now that I am a teacher myself I want to make sure that words like wrong and bad are not part of my vocabulary - negative criticism is a great barrier to learning and development.

    I would like to finish by recounting a story which, when I first heard it, went a long way to curing me of any lingering hang-ups that I was left with, about having poor articulation.

    A few years ago a colleague of mine had written a method book for jazz trumpet. Prior to its publication he asked Derek Watkins if he would read it and perhaps write a foreword or endorsement, for the book's inner sleeve or for promotional purposes. Derek took the book away but after reading it, politely declined; saying that he couldn’t endorse the book because he didn’t agree with the chapter on tonguing. He said he tongued every note between the teeth, touching his lips. I was delighted when I heard, as I suddenly realised, ‘Hey! That’s what I do”. Having since had the pleasure of working regularly with Mr ‘Chops’ and observed him at close quarters, I believe what he says to be true. You can just see Derek's tongue sticking between his lips as he sets the mouthpiece ready to play and if it works for him...

    Anyway, this post is now officially far too long. Hope it was of some interest to anybody who is still reading - let the debate continue.

    All the best. Noel.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2007
  7. FreshBrewed

    FreshBrewed Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Houston, TX
    Well said Noel. Glad to see you posting. I thought you had left us for good.
  8. PrettyT

    PrettyT New Friend

    Jan 21, 2007
    Thanks for the insight on the topic Noel. Very well rounded. I have to say for a minute there I thought you were calling between the lips a supreme method =D. I'm going to e-mail that post to a few ppl, hope you don't mind.

  9. lonelyangel

    lonelyangel Pianissimo User

    Nov 8, 2003
    Hi Mike - no I have never been away, I have been checking in here most days. Aaron, thanks for the feedback - maybe I shoiuld clarify that I am not advocating between the teeth tonguing as a supreme method. I hope that I explain in my post that I use a very wide variety of tongue positions, guided by using my ears.

    I think I just wanted to make a case for this way of playing because so often it is simply dismissed or criticised, whereas it is actually a very efficient way of achieving certain musical results, as outlined in the previous posts. Of course other methods could achieve very similar results - but require much more effort in the process.

    I am very pleased that Manny mentioned 'striking-the-lips-between-the-teeth-tonguing' - and no, I don't know what it is called either - that is because nobody taught me to do it I suppose.

    I am also agreeing with Manny that there are a myriad ways of tonguing - I too, advocate using speech or singing based articulation. Scat singing a swing phrase is a great way to find out what you might do with your tongue whilst playing.

    Let your ears be the judge of which kind of tonguing to use and you won't go far wrong and practice all kinds of syllables, vowels and resting positions.

    All the best. Noel.
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Absolutely brilliant the insight here! Manny's thoughts on articulation do not rule out tonguing between the teeth - where is the tongue when we say "the" or "then"?
    When I came to Germany in 1974, I met an old school german trumpet player (who even today at almost 90 is still my mentor) who taught me to tongue between the teeth, and when to use it. Noel is right on about developing as many skills as possible - it gives us much greater freedom of expression. Other tonguing worth mentioning: doodle or with the natural trumpet: ti-ri or di-ri.

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