The Flute Show - flute expert

Tonguing on the Flute - Part 3

Learn what is triple tonguing and when to use it

In this video, Robert and Florence Estrin talk about triple-tonguing, and how to apply it in your flute repertoire.

Released on May 6, 2015

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Video Transcription

Robert: Hi, welcome to The Flute Show on with Florence Estrin. I'm Robert Estrin. Today is the third part of tonguing series. We've started with tonguing, single tonguing then double tonguing. Now we're up to triple tonguing. Where does it end? All right, Florence tell us about triple tonguing.

Florence: Okay, triple tonguing is basically . . . Well if you want to use the simplest one is tikata or takata. Again, in reference to the earlier videos about the different syllables, dagada, why do we need triple tonguing? For triple passages basically. Triple tonguing even though it sounds like it should be faster than double tonguing, is actually not as fast as double tonguing. Because when you double tongue, you're going back and forth from the front of your tongue to the back of your tongue. So you're just going back and forth and so you can go "tkt, tkt, tkt..." very very fast.

When you're doing triple tonguing, you're going "tikt, tikt, tikt...," so you have the . . . At the end of each triplet, you're starting with another T so you have Ts in a row. So it's basically single tonguing there so it's "tkt, tkt, tkt....", but you can't go as fast. So if you have a passage that goes super-duper fast, that's triple tonguing and you really can't triple tongue that fast. Use a double tonguing but your brain has to really adjust. Because you have to do it and so you're going "tikt, catk, tikt, catk...,". You have to think that way.

"tikt, catk, tikt, catk...," no I did a triple. It's very confusing. I almost never use it because I just rather practice and get my triple tonguing fast enough. But if you really can't master it, you could always revert to double tonguing.

Robert: So that was a question I was going to ask you. So you actually can use double tonguing where the K starts, I mean it kind of . . . ?

Florence: If it's fast enough. If it's fast enough, yeah. Because as we pointed out in the second video . . .

Robert: Ka, ta, ka, ta, ka, ka, ka, ka.

Florence: Ka is not as nice as ta.

Robert: So do you ever do triple tonguing as actually a double tongue where it gets displaced like that? Like you're describing?

Florence: I generally have not used that because I find it confusing for my brain to do this. But if you absolutely have to, you can and so to you're going . . .

Robert: Like on trills sometimes when you do a triplet trill where it's like that where "di,da,di,da...," you know what I mean?

Florence: But it's still two fingers.

Robert: I know.

Florence: I was just saying. So yeah, I guess so again you're thinking.

Robert: Right.

Florence: It's very confusing. It's possible and I know I have used it but I can't remember which instance and most times I just really try to just work the triple tonguing really fast.

Robert: "tah kah tah kah...," that is very confusing.

Florence: Yeah and on French horn you probably never had to do anything quite that fast.

Robert: Well French horn, music isn't written fast the way it is for passages.

Florence: Right.

Robert: Typically double tonguing and triple tonguing on the horn would be tuk-tiktiktik-tuk-tiktiktik-tuk..." like in Bolero or something like that or "tuk-tuktuk-tuktuk...". Something like that in William Tell. You don't generally have long passages of 16th notes all over on the French horn. The music is not written that way generally.

Florence: Right.

Robert: Thank goodness. That's why I have to defer with you about all this.

Florence: Yeah, but triple tonguing is really everybody goes, "Oh you could triple tonguing?" Like it's a really fast . . .

Robert: Do you want play an example of it for everybody?

Florence: I don't have anything.

Robert: To put you on the spot.

Florence: I don't have anything here that's . . . Well I mean I'll just play something, I'll just.

Robert: Anything. Just so people can hear it, you know.

Florence: If you could practice triple tonguing, again, do it on one note.

Robert: Right.

Florence: You know like [playing...] and then go down. Do that all the way down.

Robert: That's pretty cool.

Florence: Then you can go up and what you're going to find is that when you get to the extreme low register, you have to really be very gentle and "dag-dag-dag...," you know really [playing]. Then when you get to the extreme high, you're going to want to use more of a tkt, tkt, tkt...". So it can help pop out those notes and it's just much easier position [playing]. And so on. It's much more taxing so this is why you want to do a little bit of tonguing exercises every single day. So that you're building up the muscle because your tongue is a muscle. It tires, it definitely gets tired.

Robert: Very interesting. So we covered the whole range, boy. So what's next on the Flute Show? We've got a lot of great shows coming up. I've seen the list so I really want to thank you for bringing this to everybody's attention. Once again, this is Florence Estrin in the Flute Show. I'm Robert Estrin. We'll see you next time here on Thanks for joining us.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Elo * VSM MEMBER * on March 7, 2018 @6:49 am PST
As a percussionist (mostly 'traps') going hand-to-hand with triplets on a drum is exactly related to my recorder playing tonguing (for so-called triple tonguing) as I'll use the strokes T-k-t-K-t-k etc with T and K alternating on the first of the triplet sets (as Right and Left
would alternate on a drum). Like it was explained on the video, it takes a bit of getting used to...with some passages I'll have to begin a run of triplets on the K, which is even more odd. Great video, thank you
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