How to Flutter Tongue on French Horn

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The flutter tongue technique is used on the French horn to create special effects noises or animal noises during a symphony. Understand the logistics of the flutter tongue technique with help from an experienced musician and music instructor in this free video on brass instruments.

Part of the Video Series: The French Horn
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Video Transcript

How to flutter tongue. This is Dr. Steven Gross, French Horn Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Director of the Wind Brass and Percussion Program. Tonguing a horn or any other brass instrument is produced by momentarily interrupting the flow of air in the mouth. If you can imagine it's like putting a dam in a stream and stopping the water but instead of as in the case of a dam, making it a long stop, in the case of the tongue it's a very short stop like this and the action of the tongue can be described as an analogy to taking your finger, wet finger and putting it on a hot pan on the stove, ti, ti, ti, like this. The momentary interruption of air produces a new attack or a new note. The way we interrupt the air often dictates the kind of tonguing or articulation we want. We can articulate with a do sound if we want a very very legato, very loving kind of a sound or we can have an explosive kind of an attack like ti, ti. That is how the tone is produced with the tongue. Flutter tonguing is a special effect that's used with brass players and it is done by making a very very rapid interruption of the tongue and the mouth like so duhduhduh, like a machine gun, duhduhduh. So the tongue strikes the top of the mouth or the roof of the mouth many times like this. It is often used for a special effect and composers actually do use it not only for interest but to create sounds like sheep bleating. In any case the tongue's ability to strike different portions of the roof of the mouth, the different syllables it forms all can create a wonderful variety of articulations or beginnings of notes including the special effect of the flutter tongue.


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