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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000652.txt from 1997/12

From: "Rob Breen" <>
Subj: Niel's comments on tonguing
Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997 13:37:48 -0500

Thanks to Neil for the insightful comments on tonguing. I agree especially
the way he stressed the primacy of the air column. Thinking back to my
formative years a major milestone was the point at which I realized that
staccato tonguing was *not* re-starting the sound for each note, but rather

briefly and cleanly interrupting a continuous long tone by touching the
very tip of the tongue to the tip of the reed.

There are a couple of images I've used to explain this to myself. The
is flipping your finger through a stream of water coming from a garden
The air column delivered to the clarinet has to be as steady and continuous
as the water flowing through the hose and the tongue as independant and
quick as the finger. I suppose this analogy can be extended to focus on
the movement of just the finger, not the whole hand, not the whole arm.
The hand gripping the hose firmly and stationary compares to the embouchure
simply keeping things in place without pinching.

The second image is a stone skipping along the surface of a pond. In this
case the continuous (though diminishing) energy is the force with which
the stone is thrown. The point is that the stone strikes the surface of
pond for just the briefest instant before it's on it's way again. Just as
tongue should strike the reed.

As for the tongue divot, take a break, already! ;-)
Seriously, forcing any part of this mechanism won't help.

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