Sequence 14

with Paul Edmund-Davies

This Sequence focuses on articulation and more specifically, single tonguing.

The English language is not a particularly ‘flute friendly’ one for a wide range or variety of articulation on the flute. The hard consonant (as in T or D) has a tendency to stop airflow, which can more often than not be counter-productive to a musical line. Effectively, in the English language, when applied to flute playing, the tongue comes back to the roof of the mouth, not to start the next note, but to stop the note that has already been articulated.

We need to be able to ‘break’ the air column, as opposed to ‘stop’ it with the tongue.

To this extent, we should focus on agility and lightness in operating our tongues.

When working on Sequence 14, try to use the following pronunciation…DAH.

In terms of a sound this DAH should sound quite lifeless. Imagine the sound of a golf ball hitting a dead sheep!

The tongue should approach the roof of the mouth in a gentle way, momentarily touch the palate lightly and remain close to the point of contact for the ensuing articulation (once again, after a hard consonant, in the English language the tongue automatically drops to the floor of the mouth, which brings about negative results when we are single tonguing swiftly moving dotted passages, such as those in Sequence 14). Economy of tongue movement is essential if we want the tongue action to be agile and swift.

The vowel sound after the consonant is also of importance, as this gives the note that is being played resonance (say T,T,T,T,T,T,T,T and then DUH, DUH, DUH, DUH, DUH, DUH, DUH and you will notice that DUH has more musical potential).

You might also like to make the tongue ‘dance’ on the roof of your mouth, by moving it fractionally backwards and then forwards again as the exercise progresses. This is to avoid fatigue, which would inevitably result from repeatedly landing the tongue in the same spot.

In terms of a tempo, start slowly, so that you have time to think about what you are doing with your tongue and then gradually raise the tempo. Crotchet (quarter note) = 92 would be a good final speed to aim for.