Articulation difficulties

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03 Feb 2008 19:24 - 03 Feb 2008 19:25 #30 by IHS Online Manager
Articulation difficulties was created by IHS Online Manager
Question:

I 'm doubling on trumpet and horn and almost everything works out just fine, except tonguing. I can't make it on horn. It gets too thick, and I get no "clean" start. I've been examining different positions of the tip of the tongue (and the rest of the tongue also), and do have some progress putting it much lower down on the teeth (closer to the lips/aperture) compared to when I play the trumpet (then it's situated where the palate turns into teeth). But still it's not good enough. My buzzing is nice and comes easy, so that shouldn't be the problem. Flexibility and air seem to be in order. (Well, everything might be improved of course...)

So, please help me! Placement of the tip of the tongue, where to keep the rest of the tongue, is there any "formation" (vowel) demanded? etc.

Marit, Sweden

Answer:

Dear Marit Strömberg,

You are very brave to double on trumpet and horn, congratulations! For your information: The new professor of horn at the Conservatoire Superieur in Lyon, David Guerrier, started out as a fabulous trumpet player, he was a child prodigy, winning competitions and playing stunningly well. He then took to the horn, still in his late teens, and at least at one point gave a recital using both instruments. Now, around 25 years of age, he is principal horn in one of the orchestras in Paris.

To your question: As a student I always admired the clean and pure attacks of my Danish teacher Wilhelm Lanzky-Otto. When I asked him for his secret, he said: "You have to spit out that little apple stone." At the time his answer left me somewhat puzzled, but over the years I have - fortunately - been able to improve the quality of my own attacks and articulations. I cannot speak for the trumpet, or explain what the differences might be (you should get in contact with Prof. Guerrier on that!) but I will try to explain how things work for me on the horn.

A minimum of two actions need to happen at the exact same time, the moving of the air through the lips, and the lips being placed in the ultimate position for the desired pitch, sound and dynamic. When we want the beginning of a tone to be very precise and "specific," we need to use the tongue in addition. Then three actions need to be perfectly coordinated, air, lips and the stroke of the tongue.

The placement of the tongue inside the mouth will vary with the range, dynamic, and the desired degree of explosiveness of the attack. An additional consideration is whether you are playing just one tone at the time at a somewhat slow tempo, or if you are playing many fast tones following each other. For me it helped to search for the "ideal" beginnings by first of all using my ear and my creativity. I tried everything, and listened carefully to the results. It turned out that the tongue could some times be closer to the lips than some teachers or books recommend, actually in some cases touching the upper lip and the upper teeth at the same time. However, in the high range my tongue does not need to get that far out in order to get the same quality attack. And in the low range: Just "shop around" and be creative! In general, when you hear a good one that you like, take a moment to stop and celebrate, then make it a point to repeat just that good version often enough to secure it into your toolbox.

You also ask about the position of the rest of the tongue inside the mouth. This has more to do with the sound you will be producing than with the quality of the attack. Changing from oooooh or aaaaah to eeeeeh while playing might help to get high notes, but I might also make your sound somewhat thin.

Finally, for better controlling the precision work of tone beginnings, I recommend a daily amount of starting tones without the tongue. Also, in my experience, to practice clean beginnings on the F-horn, all over the range, makes getting good results on the B flat horn seem like no problem at all.

Good luck!

CORdially, Frøydis Ree Wekre
Last edit: 03 Feb 2008 19:25 by IHS Online Manager.

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