Cutting or Tonguing?

Cutting or Tonguing?

I have just learned how to cut notes and I wondered what musicians tend to prefer: cutting or tonguing?

Re: Cutting or Tonguing?

I tend to tongue the beginning of some phrases, but I slur alot too. Tonguing and cutting at the same time can make a pretty good affect as well.

Re: Cutting or Tonguing?

What’s a slur?

Re: Cutting or Tonguing?

In this music, while all rules have their exceptions, I would say that you should cut notes far more often than you tongue them.

Re: Cutting or Tonguing?

Slurring is when you either, 1) go from one note to the next without any gap between them (which is often the normal state of affairs in Irish whistle playing), or 2) cast aspersions on your fellow man. ;-)

Re: Cutting or Tonguing?

I have no preference — it depends entirely on the tune and how I want it to sound. Having said that, I usually use tonguing to stop a note short before playing the next, rather than to separate two notes. The distinction is a fine one, but easily discernible.

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Re: Cutting or Tonguing?

Ha ha! Good to know about the cutting though. I find I like it better anyway. What are the rules for cutting and tonguing?

Re: Cutting or Tonguing?

For starters, your enthusiasm is clearly high, and as such, you should think less about "rules" and simply more about "making music", and listening listening listening and growing into your own style naturally.

For a tin-whister, I’d say Kathleen Conneely’s "Coming Of Spring" would be a must-have recording. Once you have such a recording in your heart & soul, you won’t be thinking about "rules".

Having said all that, and not having a whistle in my hand to try these out as I type, here are a few suggestions (*not* "rules):

If it’s simply a lengthy note (e.g., double-length = two consecutive ‘G’s) in the midst of a phrase, and you wish to separate them, you would typically use a "cut" — i.e., blow a continuous breath of air over the duration of both ‘G’s, and rapidly lift & replace a finger above that hole (which finger to use is an entirely different discussion). The operative word here being, "rapidly". There shouldn’t be any discernible pitch associated with the lifting and replacing of that finger — it should be so brief that all you hear is a percussive separation/interruption of the ‘G’s.

You would typically "tongue" the start of a sequence of notes. And as mentioned above, why not do both? What is meant there is the concept of "cutting into" a note. Rather than use a "cut" to separate two consecutive notes of the same value, hammer your fingers down ("cut into") virtually simultaneously with tonguing the note, to give it a little added punch. (For flute, you’d do the same by giving a little "cough" whilst hammering your finger down on to the note.)

These two techniques, "cutting a note" (= G ’ G) and "cutting into a note" (= ’ G), where the apostrophe is the finger-flick that effects the "cut", are the initial articulations that lead to "rolls" (= G ’ G ’ G) and "short-rolls (= ’ G ’ G), respectively, where the separation/interruption denoted by the second apostrophe in each case is executed by rapidly "striking & lifting" *below* the note.

However, please note, these are mostly *techniques* (i.e., *how* to do these things), and not "rules" (i.e., *when* to do them). The "rules" are there are no "rules".

There is one rogue kind of articulation that I particularly like in hornpipes, where I’ll use tonguing to effect a kind of "roll"-like articulation… …virtually "saying" the letter-sounds for "t-k-t" to make three consecutive notes, of say "C-nat".

Extra credit: One famous ornament is a B ’ A ("B cut-A") — that is, make the B note (typically tongued?), and rapidly follow it by cutting into (simultaneously tonguing and hammering down your fingers into the A.

Again, I don’t have a whistle in my hands that this exact moment, but if there are any inaccuracies in the above, they should (hopefully) only be slight. YMMV.

Re: Cutting or Tonguing?

I second Sebastian’s vote for the Bill Ochs book from Clarke whistles, which comes with a nice audio CD. I learned from it years ago, and it was quite useful. And Kathleen Conneely’s album is a wonderful example of whistle playing at its best—she lives around here, and we are proud to have her as part of our musical community.

Re: Cutting or Tonguing?

I will look into some books then. I haven’t bought any yet thinking the internet would have everything I need, but it doesn’t always. So to summarize all of the above: it is just a manner of style. Is that accurate? And, one more thing, does it it matter which finger you lift to cut for specific notes?

Re: Cutting or Tonguing?

Hi Olivia,

Scroll back a few days. A very informative discussion just recently took place on which fingers to use for cuts.

Re: Cutting or Tonguing?

Thank you, and thank you also for he comment on my high enthusiasm. You are right it is high, but I didn’t know it was so obvious :)