Should Flute Tonguing Be TA or DA?

Should Flute Tonguing Be TA or DA?

Aug 20, 2018

I get asked this question by intelligent, curious, adult flute students:

"Should tonguing on the flute be TA or DA?"

In fact, flute teachers ask this question too. Over the years, I've seen it come up in advanced flute masterclasses - all over the world.

The answer is far more simple that you (or they) think!

I was lucky enough to major in Phonetics and Linguistics when I did my university degree. Phonetics IS articulation! And it has been ever so usefulto apply this in teaching the flute...

The video above explains the answer to the question - TA or DA? The video is part of the Crystal Clear Tonguing course, where you learn the basics of good, clear tonguing, as well as the super advanced skill of double tonguing with speed and clarity. Plus everything in between to get you tonguing with clarity!

Watch the video above to find out the answer - TA or DA?

Have you wondered whether you should be teaching tonguing as DA or TA and equally in double tongue and triple tongue, should you be teaching DAGA or TACA? Well, I have the answer for you. And the reason I feel like I have a definitive answer is because when I went to university, I studied, I did study music later, but my first degree, my bachelor of arts was in linguistics. I majored in linguistics. Within linguistics I focused on phonetics. Woohoo. This is like my area of like interest and expertise. So that's pretty exciting.

DA or TA is the same thing - doesn't matter. How's that for a good answer. Now, let me explain why and why they sound different if they're the same thing. DA is engaging your vocal cords and TA is not. If you feel your neck when you say TA you'll go yeah, but I can feel it vibrating. I must be engaging them. That's the vowel bit, that UH bit that you can hear. So if we take D and you say, AHDA you'll feel that your vocal cords vibrate the whole time.

Now, if you put a T in the middle instead, AH TA you'll see that briefly there is no vibration. That is the TA where your vocal cords are not vibrating. However, when we play the flute maybe not however but and when we play the flute and this is why it doesn't matter, is you don't actually use your vocal cords at all, to tongue a note. It's just the position of your tongue that you're using these English sounds, DA and TA to explain where your tongue goes in your mouth and for DA and TA it's exactly the same, like the identical tip of your tongue touches, you know where it is, cuz you can feel it when you do it yourself, just behind your teeth on that little ridge.

When you are talking about tongue and the GA versus CA option comes up, it's exactly the same thing. GA and CA, same position in your mouth as each other. DAGA DAGA or TACA TACA does not matter or DIGI DIGI and TICI TICI does not matter. The DA versus the TA and the GA versus the CA does not matter. Let me say that one more time. It's the same thing. You will hear about teachers that say, no, it must be DA DA DA. It must be, otherwise it's too airy or some teachers say, no, it must be TATATA because it's very precise and clear. Tell you what it's exactly the same thing. The difference that they're getting in the results of their students is from other aspects of their teaching, not from the consonant, the TA or the DA that they're using. So yes, they're getting different results but it's not from this. There you go. Clear that up.

Faster Progress Through Proper Technique ™

Learn how making the right tiny adjustments to your flute playing accelerates your progress.

Come and join Jane in The Flute Academy to transform your flute playing - one clever tweak at a time!

Find out more

The Flute Academy acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country and their connections and continuous care for the skies, lands and waterways of Australia.