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Drummers are used to the idea of performing semiquavers with varying amounts of swing.

Brass players spend loads of effort perfecting even double-tonguing for performing extended semiquaver passages. Double tonguing is often used to play 16th notes when the quarter-note tick is 120 bpm or faster.

Is it possible to swing double-tonguing on a brass instrument, so the 't' and 'k' notes are different lengths? I've tried to do this and I found it next to impossible, which doesn't mean that someone really good couldn't do it with ease. But I've never come across a recorded performance that uses this technique, or been given sheet music that requires it.

Is this because the technique is too hard? Or is it not a musically useful technique?

  • I can't imagine any reason it wouldn't be possible. I just tried it on my trombone and it didn't seem significantly more difficult to me. Are you talking about a super fast tempo? – Pat Muchmore Oct 13 '17 at 12:49
  • Try doing it backwards. Might sound odd but give it a try and see if it helps – Some_Guy Oct 13 '17 at 18:41
  • Two names to check out: James Morrison, Scott Tinkler – Areel Xocha Oct 14 '17 at 7:15
  • Areel Xocha - can you be more specific? How about some YouTube links? And Some_Guy - do you mean articulating k-t rather than t-k? – Brian THOMAS Oct 14 '17 at 17:16
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I went to an excellent seminar many years ago by Jiggs Whigham where he espoused his technique of "doodle tonguing" for fast, swung passages: the longer note being started with the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth near the teeth, slightly further back than normal tonguing, and the shorter one with the middle of the tongue against the roof of the mouth. The tongue's motion was very much like saying the word "doodle" repeatedly, hence the name of the technique. I don't do much fast, swung stuff, but I found it quite effective when I tried.

Any errors in the above description are my memory and/or poor trombone technique playing me false, and no reflection on that excellent musician's teaching!

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It can be done. Swing is normally applied to 8th notes, alternate hard and soft tonguing is routine. We double-tongue faster notes, where cleaner tonguing becomes impossible, and this isn't usually swing territory! But they don't HAVE to be played evenly.

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