Double and Triple Tonguing

At District Band about a week ago I could have really used double tonguing. Do you think clarinetists should learn it? When should they learn it?

Well, this discussion can go on for a long time. But, first and foremost the use of any kind of rapid articulation on our instrument is almost always a problem of rhythm as are so many problems.

Frequently, younger players, and sometimes older ones too, are confronted with articulated passages that “seem” terribly fast, and we are always remiss, we always rush, rather than very carefully thinking of how fast is fast. Great and wonderful players never sound like they are tonguing fast, regardless of the music. I do not think that young players should consider it, unless it comes absolutely naturally and that you can vary it to any speed needed. Frequently people who double or triple tongue can only do it at one speed … usually “warm-up” speed, that speed that is used when another clarinetist walks by.

Develop a good articulation, a musical articulation, a correct articulation. Use double or triple tonguing only on repeated notes. (Prokofiev: Classical symphony , last movement). There are, of course different ways of doing it: I have used it successfully by not using the tongue on the reed, in unison passages in the orchestra. In general, you will find that most frequently you will be able to articulate to the required speed by “keeping your rhythmic head” rather than in developing what is a questionable skill for our instrument.

Then again, if it comes easily, doesn’t destroy your intonation, and you can vary it to any speed, well – go ahead.For many people it becomes a search that will never be achieved. Thanks for your inquiry. Good luck. Don’t forget about rhythm; know it, inside and out, and you can play anything!!!


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