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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000123.txt from 2003/10

From: (Tony Pay)
Subj: RE: [kl] Tongue movements -- another go
Date: Mon, 6 Oct 2003 13:00:20 -0400

On Mon, 6 Oct 2003 11:35:46 -0400, said:

> Tony,
> The one thing I *don't* find when I try this experiment is that I can
> do the repeated movement needed to articulate on a clarinet any faster
> than I can reliably do it with a mouthpiece in my mouth. My tongue
> does a remarkable job of darting this way and that to do the sub-vocal
> speech, but when I try to articulate a musical passage away from the
> clarinet, using only tongue movement with or w/o a mental image of the
> fingerings, I don't find I am able to do it noticeably faster than I
> can when I'm actually playing the instrument. Do you feel a difference
> if you do the experiment with music excerpts?

Well, what I found was that articulation, in the sense of staccato,
didn't survive the experiment very well. And I suppose that's not
surprising, because you haven't got the instrument in your mouth, and in
articulation it's how you touch the reed that's important.

So I suppressed all the articulation, and just imagined everything
legato. And what surprised me, then, was quite how much tongue movement
I found myself making even in quite simple passages, going between notes
with different responses on the instrument.

And I found a difference according to whether I imagined myself playing
the Mozart concerto on a period instrument or on a modern instrument.

As in the case of the experiment with speech, it's shutting off all the
other things that are usually happening that allows the detailed

I wrote in my first post:

> I don't know whether this is at all useful, but I found it interesting,
> and had never noticed it properly before.

I've obviously learnt all these tongue movements in the course of
learning to play the clarinet well, just as we've obviously learnt the
other tongue movements in the course of learning to speak. The fact
that I was unconscious of the full extent of their variety, just as
we've all always been unconscious of the extent to which we use our
tongues in speech, probably means that there's not hope of transmitting
any detailed instructions about tongue movements of this sort to a
beginning player. They have to go through the process just like we did.

On the other hand, it may be helpful for a beginner to know that tongue
movements *are* involved, because sometimes teachers give the impression
that they aren't, and that there is a 'right' general place for the
tongue irrespective of the note being played.

A related something may be: when I sing, say, the opening of the Mozart
concerto, I find that each note gets a different vowel. I go something
like, 'Deeee, daaah, da deeya da da daaah [rest] Deee-yah, deee-yah,
daaaaa-aaah' -- and that follows roughly what my tongue does when I

I wonder if you got a collection of clarinettists to do this, and
compared what they did with what a collection of violinists did with the
same tune, whether significant differences would show up?

_________ Tony Pay
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