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Double Tonguing on a Flute

Double tonguing is a technique used by flutists to play fast passages that would be difficult to execute with single tonguing alone. It is often used in music that requires a lot of articulation, such as Baroque music, jazz, and some contemporary pieces. Double tonguing can also be used to create a more staccato sound or to add emphasis to certain notes.

To double tongue on a flute, you need to articulate two syllables in quick succession. The most common syllables used are “tu-ku” or “du-gu”. Here are some steps to help you get started:

  1. Start by practicing single tonguing. This involves using your tongue to interrupt the air stream and create a sound. Practice saying “tu” or “du” while blowing air through the flute.

  2. Once you’re comfortable with single tonguing, try adding a second syllable. Say “ku” or “gu” while blowing air through the flute.

  3. Practice saying the two syllables together in quick succession. Start slowly and gradually increase your speed.

  4. Once you’re comfortable with double tonguing, try using it in a musical context. Practice playing scales or simple melodies using double tonguing.

I recommend starting away from the flute and start by sounding the phrases. It is important to remember to keep blowing while practising the syllables either as the single or the double version. Once you can comfortably sound the syllables try it on a single note on your flute playing eight semiquavers. Be aware of how you are releasing the air, it should be consistent and in a steady stream. Finally practise this with the metronome which will resolve any varying rhythm issues. Start slow and don't increase the tempo until you can achieve the slower version.

Chris Caton-Greasley LLCM(TD) MA (Mus)(Open)

Ethnographic Musicologist, Teacher, Researcher

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