Music and Science Magazine has just published the results of a study on “Lingual Behavior in Clarinet Articulation: A Multiple-Case Study Into Single and Double Tonguing” This is the second peer-reviewed publication on the subject and it is a collaborative effort of Drs. Kornel Wolak (Queen’s University)Anneke Slisand  from the Speech-Language Pathology Department at the University of Toronto.


Articulating notes on the clarinet requires the control of many factors, one of which is the behavior of the tongue. It is hypothesized that one of the mechanisms to produce notes in the altissimo (highest) register involves the lowering of the tongue dorsum. The study sought to answer the question of whether different tonguing techniques interfered with the required lowering of the tongue dorsum in this register, making adequate note production difficult. Four professional clarinet players performed diatonic scales across the chalumeau, clarion, and altissimo registers using two techniques—single and double tonguing. Movements of the tongue dorsum and tongue blade were recorded with 3D Electromagnetic Articulography. The movement data revealed that, for all players, a low position of the tongue dorsum was indeed associated with a higher success rate of producing adequate notes in the altissimo register. Single tonguing was the most effective technique due to ability of the tongue dorsum to lower during the highest register. For three of the four players, failed note production in the altissimo register when performing double tonguing related to a high tongue dorsum position; one participant, however, was successful in performing double tonguing in the altissimo register, despite a high tongue dorsum position. This latter finding suggests player-specific strategies to successfully realize double tonguing in the altissimo register.