Topic: slap/smack? tonguing on oboe

My wind quintet is performing the 2nd movement (our favorite) of Miguel Del Aguila's Wind Quintet No. 2 which calls for some interesting tonguing in oboe and bassoon.  There are two articulations that I am trying to accomplish in this piece (oboe part).  The first is notated as a "smack tone, kissing the mouthpiece" (exact words from the music).  I don't know if this is intented to have a pitch associated with it.  The music has a triangle instead of a round notehead.  I haven't had any luck making any kind of sound with that technique.  The idea of smacking the reed is a little frightening! smile   The second articulation is perhaps a little more interesting in that there is a definite pitch that should be heard.  The music says the following, "Hit mouthpiece with the tongue while blowing air. (result should be softer than the clarinet)."  I have been attempting to start a sound without tongue (aspirated) and then end the tone with the tongue.  Kind of backwards from what you would normally do.  The bassoonist is having great luck with this technique (her part has the same articulation notated).  She removes the reed and uses just the bocal and gets some great sound! 

Am I on the right track with this aspirated response technique? Any other ideas or ways I might go about learning to do it better?  What about the smack tone? 

Thanks very much!

Kristana Johnson
Rockville, MD


Re: slap/smack? tonguing on oboe


I'm not an expert in contemporay music but this is my idea of what the composer is asking you to do for the smack tone/kissing the mouthpiece.  First think of what your lips do when you make a loud kissing sound without the reed in your mouth.  It's like sucking air between your lips.   I think they want you to form your embouchure on the reed but instead of blowing, you suck the air in as if you were trying to suck the spit out of your reed.  If your lips are closer to the tip of the reed, that will help you to get a louder kissing sound.  Also, fingering a low Bb will amplify the sound.

Sounds like a fun piece.

Oboe, English horn:  Amarillo Symphony, Chamber Music Amarillo, Amarillo Opera, Shepherd's Trio
Composition & Arranging Website:
"Ever notice how orchestra pits shrink through the run of a show?"

Re: slap/smack? tonguing on oboe

I believe the effect asked for is similar to what is known as a "Tongue Slap" on the saxophone.   Googling "Saxophone Tongue Slap" will result in several links with how-to descriptions.  Good luck!