Here is an excellent article for you. http://www.nuoboe.com/html/fluttertongue.html Good luck with it. Kent
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University
Thanks for the link, Kent. It's an interesting article, to be sure. But, like most material I've read on fluttertonguing, it assumes that everyone either can already roll their r's or can learn to do so with relative ease. I've had no difficulty mastering other, seemingly more complicated "extended techniques," but even after years of effort I've had no luck learning how to roll those pesky r's. I've read here and there that it's a genetic trait: that some people can do it and others just can't. But I don't know enough about genetics to know whether or not that's true. Is anyone out there sufficiently knowledgeable on this topic to answer that question? Is the ability to roll r's unattainable for some? If not, is there any good method for training the tongue to do this? I've tried all the "pronounce this word over and over and eventually you'll just get it" approaches... no luck. I'm also wondering if there are other ways to simulate fluttertonguing. I've experimented with various gargling-type sounds that seem to come from the throat or back of the mouth. But so far none of these produce a "fluttertongue" sufficiently clean or clear.
Last edited by kdrew922 (2006-11-03 19:50:07)
I have heard that some people simply cannot roll their Rs no matter what due to a specific genetic trait. Sort of like some people are double jointed and others are not. My wife is a flutist and can't fluttertongue properly so she can't play a lot of literature the way it was meant to be played.
I'm assuming we're talking about rolling your R at the front of your mouth? If so have you tried doing it in the back of the mouth, at the soft palette? It's the difference between the Spanish "rr" and a German "r". The back one is almost like you're purring, as in, it's much more "throaty". I cannot flutter on an instrument with the back way, but some people (especially double reed players) can only do it that way. Just food for thought.
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds
It is not a genetic trait, but rather a linguistic one. (I have NEVER met any French speaker who could not do one rolling R or the other.) In any language where a sound exists, it is easy for a native speaker to learn the sound in question, such as the rolling R. This is, incidentally, the real reason that your wife is unable to re-produce this sound. She probably only speaks English, one of the few language in whic this sound is not used. As adults, we have formed the muscles of our tongue and mouth to speak outr native language, and it is very difficult for us to "relearn" how to formulate new sounds. This is also why adults who learn a second language virtually never completely lose their accent. I am somewhat lucky, for some reason I was able to learn almost all of the sounds that are native to French, among them the 2 rolling Rs. I still have a bit of an English accent, though. It did take some practice but it is doable for anyone who can speak normally.
To do it, you have to learn to relax the muscles in your tongue. You hold your tongue VERY lightly against the top of your mouth, right at the place where the dental ridge gives way to the palate. Do not use the tip of your tongue but rather the flat area behind the tip. As you make a sound, the air that passes by your tongue will make it vibrate in the airstream, which produces the rolling R.
Good luck with it, and if you have any other questions, feel free to email me.
(This is actually right up my area of expertise. I am an English teacher in Quebec, so this is one of the things that I have had to teach from time to time)
Last edited by Dean (2006-11-15 15:50:31)
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!
I have learned to fluttertongue using the back of the throat, the same area as for double tonguing. I can do this up to high E without any problem. Unfortunately I can roll my 'r' as well so I don't know if this will work for everybody or not. It seems that the oboist that I know have more of a time with this tecnique than do bassoonists.
I have no problem fluttertonguing the normal way on any of the instruments I play (which doesn't include oboe, but most of the other winds), but my sister (who plays the clarinet) uses the side of her tongue. Might be worth trying.
Some more references for flutter tonguing. This web site was mentioned above:
Leclair, Jacqueline. “Flutter Tonguing.” <http://www.nuoboe.com/html/fluttertongue.html> (16 October 2006).
This is worth a look:
Finnigan, Mary M. “Two Approaches to Flutter Tonguing.” The Instrumentalist 28, no.11 (June 1973): 48. Reprinted in Woodwind Anthology: A Compendium of Articles from The Instrumentalist on the Woodwind Instruments (Evanston: The Instrumentalist Company, 1976), 202-3.
But the most complete discussion is found here:
Vacchi, Steve. “An examination of two contemporary techniques in five works for solo bassoon: Descriptions and performance suggestions.” D.M.A. Dissertation, Louisiana State University, 1997.
Professor Bassoon, Towson University
Former President, IDRS
Former Principal Bassoon Hong Kong Philharmonic, Wheeling Symphony