Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm an intermediate student clarinettist, I've been playing for 3 years and just recently it dawned on me that my articulation isn't great. When I tongue, my tongue touches the roof of my mouth (like when you say the letter T) and because of the way I tongue, you'll hear my tongue before the note speaks which just sounds really unclean and rookyish. I asked my band director for help with cleaner articulations and my band director adressed to me that my way of tongueing is incorrect and that my tongue should touch the tip of the reed when articulating. The problem is is that when I tried this, all I do is squeak, my tone is horrible, and it's very difficult to legato tongue. It also feels extremely unnatural to literally touch my reed with my tongue every time to articulate and it seems like there's just no way I'll be able to tongue fast doing that. Even when I try using the very tip of my tongue to the tip of the reed it still sounds bad.

All in all, I just want to be able to blow through my clarinet and be able to articulate at the same time that the note speaks. (tongue, note - same time) not tongue ..and then note speaks moments later)

I'm just really frustrated now as this is my biggest pitfall. I can do everything else on the clarinet except clean articulation so any help and advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,632 Posts
Your band director is correct, and if you really want to become a better player you're going to have to unlearn what you know and start working on this. The crux of the matter is, you need to start notes with your tongue on the tip of the reed then remove it when you want the note to sound. Think of it that way, rather than attacking the reed with your tongue while blowing.
 

·
Forum Contributor 2015-2017
Joined
·
3,476 Posts
+1 to starting the sound with the articulation.

Your TIME is on your TONGUE. Not the breath support.
Expect it to take some time and hard work and there will be rough days.

Do it anyway. You will be glad you did!



Good habits are hard to break!




Dat
Sax
Man
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
....my tongue should touch the tip of the reed when articulating. ...
I consider this advice well intentioned but in detail, incorrect and misleading. The tip of the tongue does not touch the tip of the reed. If that were so then there would either be a scratching sound (and likely squeaks) as the tongue lowered to free the reed, or the player would have to draw the tongue back to free the reed, which would be far too slow a movement.

Is it not true that an area of the tongue a couple of mm back from the tip contacts the first mm or two of the underside of the reed. Then to release the reed the tongue is lowered.

Normally the tongue exerts enough pressure under the reed to close the reed against the mouthpiece and stop air flow, but certain advanced "semi" tonguing effects can be achieved by not closing the gap between reed and mouthpiece, i.e. only minimal contact with the reed to stop it from vibrating but not stop the flow of air past the reed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
774 Posts
I'm an intermediate student clarinettist, I've been playing for 3 years and just recently it dawned on me that my articulation isn't great. When I tongue, my tongue touches the roof of my mouth (like when you say the letter T) and because of the way I tongue, you'll hear my tongue before the note speaks which just sounds really unclean and rookyish. I asked my band director for help with cleaner articulations and my band director adressed to me that my way of tongueing is incorrect and that my tongue should touch the tip of the reed when articulating. The problem is is that when I tried this, all I do is squeak, my tone is horrible, and it's very difficult to legato tongue. It also feels extremely unnatural to literally touch my reed with my tongue every time to articulate and it seems like there's just no way I'll be able to tongue fast doing that. Even when I try using the very tip of my tongue to the tip of the reed it still sounds bad.

All in all, I just want to be able to blow through my clarinet and be able to articulate at the same time that the note speaks. (tongue, note - same time) not tongue ..and then note speaks moments later)

I'm just really frustrated now as this is my biggest pitfall. I can do everything else on the clarinet except clean articulation so any help and advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks
You don't mention a clarinet teacher. Taking a few lessons with a good teacher would help you resolve your problem with tonguing, a possible correct other bad habits that you've developed. This discussion board is excellent, but in no way is it a substitute for private instructions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
601 Posts
It's difficult to describe something that can't be seen, only felt. The mental image that worked best with my students was that of spitting a seed or a grain of sand, starting with the very tip of the tongue between the lips. Some were able to immediately articulate properly, some took a while, but eventually were able to produce the correct motion. Funny as it seems, there seems to be a cultural aspect to this. Students from several Asian cultures took a lot of coaching to replicate the action. Go figure. Anyway, there's many means to an end, and lots of fine teachers here who can offer different ways to achieve your goal. Good luck!
 

·
Moderator
Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
Joined
·
29,176 Posts
I consider this advice well intentioned but in detail, incorrect and misleading. The tip of the tongue does not touch the tip of the reed.
It all depends on how you want to play. The tip of my tongue does most certainly touch the tip of t reed a lot of the time. It may not work for some people who have a large tongue or put a lot (or too much) mouthpiece in their mouth, but if you can achieve this I find it can definitely enhance articulation.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Joined
·
2,354 Posts
+1 to starting the sound with the articulation.

Your TIME is on your TONGUE. Not the breath support.
Expect it to take some time and hard work and there will be rough days.

Do it anyway. You will be glad you did!



Good habits are hard to break!




Dat
Sax
Man
Opinions vary wildly on how to articulate or even to use articulation in the first place. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMgyckoveRw
Personally I like a clean articulation when the music or line calls for it. Maybe the squeeks come from using too much tongue on too much reed ?
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
It all depends on how you want to play. The tip of my tongue does most certainly touch the tip of t reed a lot of the time. It may not work for some people who have a large tongue or put a lot (or too much) mouthpiece in their mouth, but if you can achieve this I find it can definitely enhance articulation.
I actually think you might need to think a bit more about it. If the very tip of your tongue touches the very tip of the reed, how do you apply pressure from under the reed to close the gap between the reed and the mouthpiece to stop the windy noise of escaping air during the tonguing process? Or do you thrust your tongue forwared sukfficiently for the tongue to close that gap?

As I said, you can use this approach for barely detaching notes - say a semi-slur, but for example beginning a single note, you must surely first lift the reed to stop the air flow. That needs pressure from under the tip of the reed.

Also, if the very tip of the tongue is against the very tip of the reed, then really the only way to stop the articulation is to draw the tongue back rather than lower it. Do you actually draw your tongue back??? For me that would be ridiculously slow but I supposae it could be mastered by some.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
2,814 Posts
I actually think you might need to think a bit more about it. If the very tip of your tongue touches the very tip of the reed, how do you apply pressure from under the reed to close the gap between the reed and the mouthpiece to stop the windy noise of escaping air during the tonguing process? Or do you thrust your tongue forwared sukfficiently for the tongue to close that gap?

As I said, you can use this approach for barely detaching notes - say a semi-slur, but for example beginning a single note, you must surely first lift the reed to stop the air flow. That needs pressure from under the tip of the reed.

Also, if the very tip of the tongue is against the very tip of the reed, then really the only way to stop the articulation is to draw the tongue back rather than lower it. Do you actually draw your tongue back??? For me that would be ridiculously slow but I supposae it could be mastered by some.
ABSOLUTELY correct. The actual act of "tonguing" is not the tongue touching the reed. It's the tongue leaving the reed and the combination of the sudden burst of air being released into the mouthpiece. How anyone can tongue with the absolute tip of their tongue is beyond me. What creates the tonguing sound, your tongue "slapping" the reed?
Then again, I've only been playing for over 40 yrs. What in the hell do I know?
 

·
Moderator
Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
Joined
·
29,176 Posts
I actually think you might need to think a bit more about it.
I think it is highly unliely I will rethink anything at my age. I've been playing far too long to start a different technique, especially when feel i have been quite successful with the one I use.

As I said, you can use this approach for barely detaching notes - say a semi-slur, but for example beginning a single note, you must surely first lift the reed to stop the air flow. That needs pressure from under the tip of the reed.
No, I don't lift the reed with the my tongue. I use it for stopping and starting the airflow as I find that to be useful when aiming for the best sound. I do like my playing to be versatile, so will of course use other techniques at times. I'm not saying use tip of tongue all the time, just that it is my default technique, at least on alto and tenor. On soprano and baritone probably curl it under a bit beuase there is more mouthpiece in my mouth.

Also, if the very tip of the tongue is against the very tip of the reed, then really the only way to stop the articulation is to draw the tongue back rather than lower it. Do you actually draw your tongue back??? For me that would be ridiculously slow but I supposae it could be mastered by some.
I don't understand "stop the articulation." I don't consciously think about drawing my tongue back, I just use i as if articulating the consonant "T" or "D" I think it curls slightly rather than retracting in a straight line.



ABSOLUTELY correct. The actual act of "tonguing" is not the tongue touching the reed. It's the tongue leaving the reed and the combination of the sudden burst of air being released into the mouthpiece.
Yes, I agree with this. I think this is understood by most people.


How anyone can tongue with the absolute tip of their tongue is beyond me. What creates the tonguing sound, your tongue "slapping" the reed?
I don't actually aim for a "tonguing sound" - I'm not even quite sure what it is. Unless I'm after a specific effect, I suppose I aim for the lack oa "tonguing sound" ie a clean start to the note. I would only slap the reed when doing a slap tongue effect.

I have known students who get a sort of explosive sound at the attack. This is not good (unless you want it) so to help them get a cleaner attack I would work at getting more of the tip of tongue on tip of reed, which helps enormously. If you can't actually do that then I tend to suggest get as close as possible (which is what I do on baritone and soprano)

Then again, I've only been playing for over 40 yrs. What in the hell do I know?
I think after 40 years maybe probably know as much as I do. I think there are more than one way to skin the cat, so I'm rarely dogmatic about such techniques, I can only say what has helped me (and some others). If people get a good sound using other techniqus than that is absolutely fine by me.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
2,814 Posts
I think after 40 years maybe probably know as much as I do. I think there are more than one way to skin the cat, so I'm rarely dogmatic about such techniques, I can only say what has helped me (and some others). If people get a good sound using other techniqus than that is absolutely fine by me.
I hear ya. The old saying "to each their own" certainly applies! ;-)
I think the O/P needs to simply find a good teacher to find out what (if any) obvious flaws are going on. Then again, it sure as hell took me more than 3 yrs to learn how to tongue. What am I saying? I'm STILL trying to learn...
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
... No, I don't lift the reed with the my tongue. I use it for stopping and starting the airflow as I find that to be useful when aiming for the best sound. I do like my playing to be versatile, so will of course use other techniques at times. I'm not saying use tip of tongue all the time, just that it is my default technique, at least on alto and tenor. On soprano and baritone probably curl it under a bit beuase there is more mouthpiece in my mouth.
OK, to terminate a note, or between tongued notes, you stop the flow of air, like turning off a tap, either without releasing or before releasing the air pressure from your lungs. Correct and agreed?

How do you stop the airflow between the reed and the mouthpiece? There would seem to be only two ways:

1. There is a gap between the reed and the tip and part of the sides of the mouthpiece. You would plug all those gaps by wrapping your tongue around where the gaps are - not just plaster the tip of your tongue around the end, but also up the sides, i.e. block the entire gap between the reed and the mouthpiece, and also partly along the sides.

2. What I believe every player does: Use the tongue to lift the reed to contact the tip and rails of the mouthpiece, to effect a seal between the two. This can only be done with upwards pressure on the reed. That is pretty impossible to do by exerting pressure on the actual tip of the reed. Thats why we do it on perhaps the 1st mm of reed under and adjacent to the tip. And that canot be done with the very tip of the tongue. To press up on the reed we must use a portion of the tongue very close to the tip, but slightly back from the tip. Mechanics 101.

Or do you do it in a way that I have not yet visualised.
Perhaps there is a misunderstanding based on the preciseness attributed to the word "tip".

I have been analytical about this because I too had huge problems articulating on clarinet, until I realised that the oft-heard advice "tip of tongue on tip" of reed was actually incorrect.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
860 Posts
I'm no more than intermediate myself, and certainly no expert - but I just tried out all my tonguing techniques that work, and I'm largely with Pete and John on this; what you describe is pretty much what I do, and crucially, I don't need to think of any additional things or peculiarities to succeed. Thus, especially if there are problems, it's their rather intuitive advice I would follow.

I think I get what Gordon is going on about, but that needs a lot of conscious control to even spot, let alone produce. The "T" and "D" *on* the reed (without pushing it shut) works. In my case, I doubt I actually hit the exact tip of the reed because that's more precision than I can muster, but I touch the reed *very close to* the tip; I know for a (painful) fact that when I "slap" (on bari, mostly), I sometimes end up cutting my tongue, so the tip/rim is part of the game in this case, but normally, I don't experience anything like this.

(btw. Back after a long hiatus - following other passions, but never stopped playing and enjoying the saxophone ...)

M.
 

·
Moderator
Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
Joined
·
29,176 Posts
OK, to terminate a note, or between tongued notes, you stop the flow of air, like turning off a tap, either without releasing or before releasing the air pressure from your lungs. Correct and agreed?
Correct and agreed


How do you stop the airflow between the reed and the mouthpiece? There would seem to be only two ways:

1. There is a gap between the reed and the tip and part of the sides of the mouthpiece. You would plug all those gaps by wrapping your tongue around where the gaps are - not just plaster the tip of your tongue around the end, but also up the sides, i.e. block the entire gap between the reed and the mouthpiece, and also partly along the sides.

2. What I believe every player does: Use the tongue to lift the reed to contact the tip and rails of the mouthpiece, to effect a seal between the two. This can only be done with upwards pressure on the reed. That is pretty impossible to do by exerting pressure on the actual tip of the reed. Thats why we do it on perhaps the 1st mm of reed under and adjacent to the tip. And that canot be done with the very tip of the tongue. To press up on the reed we must use a portion of the tongue very close to the tip, but slightly back from the tip. Mechanics 101.
As I said above I like to use the tip of my tongue on the tip of the reed. I can use method 2 but I prefer method 1, especially for legato tonguing. It's odd to me for someone to say this technique is never used, because it is one that Larry Teal describes as one of the three main types of tongue position, and of those three "the method used should be determined by the shape and size of the player's tongue and oral cavity."

Using the tip of the tongue on the tip of the reed stops the airflow perfectly or at least it does in my experience. It also allows much faster and smoother articulation, as well as control - you can vary between an articulation that is barely audible as such, and one that is very much audible as an attack, yet still controllable.

Perhaps there is a misunderstanding based on the preciseness attributed to the word "tip".
I don't think so, I the tip of the tongue is the very end of the tongue, so when you stick your tongue out the tip is slightly rounded with the centre more or less perpendicular to the reed. So basically it is the end of the tongue.

The tip of the reed is the sharp bit at the front end.



Maybe you don't like the way I articulate, I have no problem with that. I just use what works best for me and the sound I want to get. As an example, here are a couple of examples of quite different sounds, but you can clearly hear the articulations in the way I want them to sound. The second example shows some very fast tonguing in bar 4, which I would be unable to do if I didn't have the tip of my tongue on the tip of the reed.

https://soundcloud.com/petethomasmusic%2Fselmer-alto
https://soundcloud.com/petethomasmusic%2Fhooligan-blues
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,784 Posts
Hey guys, I've been playing for about 40 years too! Can I join the fray?

In thinking about this, I realize I use a number of subtle variations on tonguing. I don't always stop the air flow with the tongue; sometimes it just stops the reed from vibrating (for example, rapidly articulated passages). Also the syllable I'm modeling varies from "T!" (hard hard start or stop) through "t", "d', and "th". The end of notes is also articulated, which could range from "T!...th" to "thhh....T!" and all kinds of combinations in between.

As far as where, I find that the place where my tongue hits the most is a spot about 1/2" back from the tip of the tongue, more or less hitting the tip of the reed; but the tongue is a big soft thing, so I suspect that when the tip of the reed is hitting my tongue about 1/2" back, the tip of my tongue is hitting the reed about 1/2" back from the tip of the reed. Let's not forget, too, that the shape of your tongue can change from moment to moment. You may think you've got it all pointy and precise, just delicately contacting the reed, but you don't really know that's so unless you have a movie camera hooked up to a borescope inside your mouth.

Anyway, these are all subtleties, whereas the OP has clearly been doing it dead wrong and needs to relearn single reed tonguing by placing the tongue on the reed to stop and start the tone. Let's let him/her get accustomed to that, which in itself is probably pretty freaky if you've never done it before, and then move to the more delicate nuances. I suspect that the individual shape of your mouth and tongue has a big effect on just where you can contort the tongue to touch the reed.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
Peter, what is shown in your graphic would stop the reed from vibrating by touching it,. which indeed is what is wanted for certain legato effects.
But for "normal" tonguing I think most players want to not only stop the reed from vibrating, but also block the airflow between reed and mouthpiece.
In no way would/could your tongue wrap around the 2 cm or more to seal the gap between the reed and the mouthpiece (both tip and sides) to stop airflow.
Neither could it lift the reed to the mouthpiece to seal those gaps.
To lift the reed the tongue has to exert pressure upwards on the reed, which means it cannot be tip of tongue to tip of reed as your graphic shows.
 

·
Moderator
Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
Joined
·
29,176 Posts
In no way would/could your tongue wrap around the 2 cm or more to seal the gap between the reed and the mouthpiece (both tip and sides) to stop airflow.
Agreed. And nor would I want to as I find that is not necessary to stop the airflow.


Neither could it lift the reed to the mouthpiece to seal those gaps.
I also agree with that. It doesn't need to.

When I place the tip of my tongue to the tip of the reed, it stops the airflow. I don't mind at all if you don't believe me. You can discuss the physics or biology as much as you like, all I know is what happens when I play and how to get the articulation and sound that i want. The proof to me is in the music, not the mechanical theory.

As I said, if you dislike my technique that is fine, but I'm not going to change it now. Especially as the esteemed Mr Teal mentions it as one of the three main ways to articulate. I never said my method will work for everyone. As Larry teal said, it can depend on tongue size and oral cavity.

However i have found my method to help quite a few students, sometimes (but not always) combined with other adjustments of embouchure, e.g. finding the best amount of mouthpiece to take in.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW member/, Official SOTW Sister
Joined
·
19,286 Posts
Clarinet articulation..... Some part of the tongue touches somewhere around the tip of the reed.
Maybe it's the 'tip' or somewhere closer to the 'middle' of the tongue.
Maybe it's the 'tip' or somewhere lower down on the reed.
Find the spots that work the best for you and go from there.
Getting a GOOD clarinet specific teacher to watch you play and give an 'in person' evaluation is probably your best plan of action.
We can tell you how we articulate but without being able to see/hear what YOU are doing.... Good luck.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top