Topic: Double Tonguing

I do consider double tonguing a necessity for bassoon playing although I realize that several very fine bassoonists have an exception speed for their single tongue.

Others also consider it a necessity for oboe playing. At the IDRS conference in Ball State we heard a wonderful lecture by Jim Ryon on the subject. I think that that masterclass was recorded so it should eventually be available on our website.

I have a fairly fast single tongue (up four strokes at mm. 138) but even then I want to have the capacity to tongue more quickly. I mostly use what I call "combination tonguing," that is, a combination of double and single. Double tonguing is usually represented as TKTK, single often as TTTT, or DDDD. What I call combination tonguing is TKTT or TTTK. I find that this tonguing pattern, while a bit more difficult to master at first, much more flexible and closer sounding to single tonguing than the full double tongue.  Bernard Garfield is credited with inventing this form of tonguing and wrote about it in his article:

Garfield, Bernard. “The Bassoonist’s Nightmare.” Woodwind World 2 (March 1958): 11.

I don't have enough time to answer in greater detail right now, but a few more of my thoughts are contained in this article:

http://idrs2.colorado.edu/pubidrs2/dr26.2//107.pdf


Oboists might want to start reading about Goossen's support of double tonguing in his book on pages 78-81:

Goossens, Leon and Roxburgh, Edwin. Oboe. New York: Schirmer Books, 1977.

I should also note that early method books for woodwind playing (as early as the mid 1500s!) advocate double tonguing. Quantz mentions its use in the Baroque period for double reeds as well as flute:

Quantz, Johann Joachim.  Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen (Berlin: Johann Friedrich Voss, 1752). Trans. by Edward R. Reilly.  On Playing the Flute. New York: Schirmer Books, 1966.

There is a lot of good information out there, we just need to gain access to it!

Terry

Terry Ewell
Professor Bassoon, Towson University
Former President, IDRS
Former Principal Bassoon Hong Kong Philharmonic, Wheeling Symphony

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Re: Double Tonguing

I decided I wanted to learn to double-tongue in college. I had a very slow single tongue... in fact, it's still pretty pokey but has improved with time :-) Anyway, my oboe professor couldn't double-tongue so I actually went to the trumpet professor and took some lessons with him. He gave me the double tonguing studies out of the Arban's trumpet method to work on and it really helped get me going until I did take some lessons with oboist who could double tongue. I guess the moral of the story is that you don't neccessarily have to have a double reed teacher to get you started... Brass players, flutists, etc. are a great help. I've learned some interesting things talking to non-double reed players about double tonguing.


Dawn

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Re: Double Tonguing

Dawn, 

This is interesting to me.  I play several secondary instruments including saxophone, trumpet and trombone.  I can double-tongue on both brass instruments, but not saxophone or oboe (my primary instrument).  I think it has to do with the reed or mouthpiece projecting into the mouth a bit.  When I try to double-tongue on the oboe I find myself trying to get around the reed somehow to make contact behind my top teeth, as I do for the trumpet.  Maybe it's all psychological, but I can't seem to make it work on oboe.  Can you offer any tips from your experiences?

Lynn

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Re: Double Tonguing

Lynn,

Definitely the feel of tonguing is going to be different with a reed in the mouth. Many You might try some slow drills on a single note where you learn the new tongue motions.

Terry

Terry Ewell
Professor Bassoon, Towson University
Former President, IDRS
Former Principal Bassoon Hong Kong Philharmonic, Wheeling Symphony

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Re: Double Tonguing

Lynn:
Try some slow single tongue with a metronome (quarter = 60 perhaps).  T T T T and then try some K K K K.  Take breaks as you need.  As you get better at matching them try T K T K but slowly.  Be sure your tongue movement is very little and with no tension.  You just need to do a few minutes of this at a time several times a day if you can.  Eventually increase the tempo little by little and you will get it.  Let us know how it goes.  Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Double Tonguing

Terry:
I also frequently use the TKTT that I learned from Garfield.  My single tongue isn't as fast as yours so I use this especially for passages that aren't extremely fast but are quite long.  It keeps my tongue from getting tired.  Thanks for posting this.  Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Double Tonguing

Lynn,
I totally agree with what Mr. Ewell and Dr. Moore say in regards to slow practicing with just "k" or "t-k" and with just doing it a small amount everyday. You might even just try it on just your reed with no instrument.   
Mark Ackerman, oboist with San Antonio, told me to not only practice double tonguing slowly but also practice it smoothly - like a legato tongue... Very little space between the notes. As you get faster, you don't want to sound too short and pecky.   
I think another important part of it is having the right reed... In my experience, you don't want too hard a reed because it will make the "k" very hard to sound. At the same time, too soft a reed seems not to work either.
One last thing... Record yourself. When I was working on La Scala for an audition several years ago, I was double tonguing it and I decided to record myself because I thought it sounded bad. However I was pleasantly surprised to hear that I sounded pretty good and there were only a few small places I needed to make adjustments.
Hope this helps.
Good luck!
Dawn

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Re: Double Tonguing

Terry - thanks for starting this thread! If I may be so bold, I'd like to add some notes, regarding single/double tonguing exercises that have helped me through the years.

I wasn't able to find my original post to the list, regarding double-tonguing,
but I was interviewed by a doctoral student about my tonguing a while ago, so here's some notes from that interview:

"First I'll talk about the single tonguing, and then the double tonguing. I got a lot of help from Harold Goltzer (former assistant principal bassoon, NY
Philharmonic), but the most practical advice I got was from Milan Turkovic, when I was overseas and periodically studying with him in Vienna. His exercise for single tongue speed is from Alfred Rose, the principal
clarinetist in the Vienna Symphony, and you know how clarinets are always trying to figure out a way to tongue faster.  Rose's method was just to put on the metronome at 60, and with one tone, (you don't vary it, you don't do scales, you don't do anything else), you take just - say an F, the middle F, and ta, ta, like that with the metronome, (one short burst on each beat), and then ta ta, ta ta - duple (two short bursts at the beginning of each beat), then triple ta da da, ta da da, then four, ta da da da, ta da da da, five, ta da da da da, ta da da da da, and then six, ta da da da da da.  Just continue . . .
make sure you don't practice this for over ten to fifteen minutes a day.  Turkovic stressed the fact that this exercise concentrates just on the tongue, not on the fingers to confuse the issue. What I did with Goltzer was similar only he had us include the fingers - doing chromatic scales -  ta da da, ta da da, etc.

For double tongue, I was very lucky, because until I was 17 years old and a senior in high school I never "tongued" the reed on my saxophone or bassoon. Out of blissful ignorance, I NEVER EVER placed my tongue on the reed. I only played with a kah kah or gah gah. It got to where I could play really fast just playing with the gah or the kah.  Then when I was a senior in high school, finally, the band director said, "Well, Jim, how do you tongue this?  What part of your tongue is going on the reed?"  I said, "What are you talking about?"  He was horrified.  And then I was horrified to realize I was that stupid! [Laughter] But as a result, I think it really has been a major plus in my learning double tonguing! 

**Turkovic suggested that for _one month_, only practice the gah or the kah (no more than ten or fifteen minutes per day).  No tah with the tongue hitting the reed during this time.  Again very slowly with one note and scales very slowly - kah kah, kah . . . Then, for _one month_, practice tah kah, tah kah, tah kah (or ti ki, ti ki, or duh guh, duh guh, whatever works best for you!). Then for the _3rd month_, practice kah tah, kah tah (or ki ti, ki ti, etc.). Again be sure to NOT practice more than 10 or 15 minutes per day on these
exercises; whenever tired, stop! After _3 months_ of this, I've never again had any problem double tonguing!

I also can't stress enough the importance of relaxation with these exercises.  Dennis Godburn  (Orpheus, St. Luke's Ensemble) told me that any time I have fast (single tongued) 16ths, to play them legato, _not_ staccato, since the bassoon will sound staccato!  Playing fast 16ths legato makes for a
more relaxed over-all effect. This has freed my fast single tonguing very dramatically.  If you try to play sixteenths (mm.132 or 120) staccato, by the very nature of "staccato," the passages slow down.  You start getting
tension and the tongue tires.  I have found that when students try to play really fast staccato, it invariably slows them down.  This seems rather obvious, but many times, one forgets this very simple reality."

Hope this adds to the thread, Terry.  All the best - Jim

James Jeter, D.M.A., NYC Bassoonist
"To love human beings is still the only thing worth living for; without that love, you really do not live." Soren Kierkegaard
"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." Mahatma Gandhi  "Mach' es kurz! Am Juengsten Tag ist's nur ein Furz!" Goethe

Re: Double Tonguing

Hi all! I have a question, being a student still.

Is it good to build up double tonguing on another instrument and make the switch, or should I just focus my efforts on the oboe? It takes a lot more pressure it seems on the oboe than on something like recorder, and consequently I can doubletongue recorder in a sloppy newbie-ish way, but not oboe.

Claire Binkley
Oboe/English Horn
West Chester University

Re: Double Tonguing

Hi Claire:
I have never heard of someone specifically working on DT on another instrument first with the goal that it would be better on a double reed.  While I don't think it could hurt to practice it on a recorder, for example, and it may even be a useful exercise for you, I don't see why you shouldn't begin to practice slowly and consistently on the oboe.  As you say the techniques are slightly different because of the reed.  My main instrument is bassoon but when I first picked up an oboe I could DT right away because I had already practiced hard on the bassoon.  I don't really play much oboe but I teach a double reed methods class to education majors and so I play enough to teach the basics.  Maybe others will have some success stories for you but I would begin practicing it on the oboe and if you find doing it on the recorder helps too then go for it.  Good luck with it, Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Double Tonguing

Using a Pennywhistle is a good way to start double tonguing as the fipple (mouthpiece) is similar to a double reed. It's also good for tongue/finger coordination practice (for both double and single tongue) and for vibrato. They come in all sizes from a tiny one in G to a big one in Bb. The most common one is in D. 

You can find pennywhistles at most music stores or via these websites:

http://www.chiffandfipple.com/

https://www.feadog.ie/

http://www.burkewhistles.com/

Paul Barrett
   -Principal Bassoonist, Honolulu Symphony
    -Lecturer in Bassoon, University of Hawaii

Re: Double Tonguing

One bit of advice that may help is locating and regulating the depth in the throat where the "k" actually occurs. Earlier on this list, Lynn noted that she double tongues with no problems on the trumpet, but on the oboe, she seems to get tied up by the reed as her "k" attack tries to get up behind the teeth.  It seems, therefore, that on the oboe(and bassoon) the throat attack needs to be deeper.  The position of the adam's apple may have something to do with it.  Hopefully, this, along with all the great advice posted here: practicing slowly, only "k"-ing, etc. will help.

One tidbit more:  personally, I've found it possible and useful to use not only TKTT and TTTK but also TTKT in some situations. Also sometimes TKTK mixed in when it starts to really fly. I usually test a passage with each combination, but have noticed that some notes "k" better than others(i.e. open f better than its neighbor g) and that the phrase direction of the sixteenth note passage in question lends itself to one combination better than another. Once I determine a formula for a given long passage, I practice that tonguing sequence with different rhythms(dotted eight - sixteenth and vice-versa, etc.) If I can figure out how to notate it on the computer, I'll try to post(attach) some of my current sequences(they sometimes change from performance to performance) for excerpts like Mendelsohn's Scottish Symph., Mozart 41, and of course Beethoven 4.  It'd be interesting to see how others "attack" these and other excerpts as well!

I should also note that it was thanks to Bernard Garfield that this concept of combination tonguing was introduced to me.  This when I was a HS student at a Saratoga summer camp - 1979, 80.

John Falcone
Co-Principal Bassoon
Asturias, Spain

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Re: Double Tonguing

Thank you both for the imput! I'll be practicing in about ten minutes on the oboe to see how it goes.

Claire Binkley
Oboe/English Horn
West Chester University

Re: Double Tonguing

Thanks, everyone, for your tips and suggestions.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.

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