Do you legato tongue every legato note?

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norbie2018
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Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by norbie2018 » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:19 pm

There are natural slurs and slurs across the break and legato tongue to prevent the gliss, but should we be using legato tonguing all the time to make those slurs sound more alike?
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Matt K
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by Matt K » Sat Apr 07, 2018 2:20 pm

You (intentionally or otherwise!) have revealed what are essentially the two schools of thought on the issue. In short, there are a lot of players who will recommend one way over the other. I tend to not tongue unless I need to but I'm a brighter player so I don't need any additional help with my articulations. I know some very fine players who tongue though so at the end of the day it boils down a lot to artistic preference.
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by AndrewMeronek » Sat Apr 07, 2018 2:28 pm

Speaking of artistic preference: IMHO not every note needs to sound the same. Variety of articulations add musical interest, even in "legato only" passages. Let the trombone sound like a trombone.
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Neo Bri
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by Neo Bri » Sat Apr 07, 2018 3:02 pm

I prefer to use natural slurs when at all possible. That said, I believe Paul Pollard advocates tonguing everything. And he is good.
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by BGuttman » Sat Apr 07, 2018 3:33 pm

I was taught to use legato tongue on everything so all the notes in a slur sound the same. Of course that means learning to synchronize the tongue and the change of partial.

I even carry this over to playing valved instruments (tuba and euph). Once it becomes a habit it's hard to break. :wink:
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tbonedude
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by tbonedude » Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:01 pm

Warning: I am fairly opinionated on this issue.

If a composer wants to hear a phrase legato, they'll mark it as such. So many American trombonists play everything legato, and it gets to me. Having a good legato tongue is important to developing good technique, but using it all the time by default not only sounds boring, but it's also incorrect.
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BGuttman
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by BGuttman » Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:16 pm

tbonedude wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:01 pm
Warning: I am fairly opinionated on this issue.

If a composer wants to hear a phrase legato, they'll mark it as such. So many American trombonists play everything legato, and it gets to me. Having a good legato tongue is important to developing good technique, but using it all the time by default not only sounds boring, but it's also incorrect.
Quite true. I use legato tongue on slurred passages, but when I need an attack I play an attack.
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norbie2018
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by norbie2018 » Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:21 pm

I agree that only parts marked legato should be played legato, which is why I titled the post the way I did. I was not aware that American trombonists used legato as a default, but I haven't been at university in some time.
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Neo Bri
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by Neo Bri » Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:24 pm

I just recorded Maslanka's 10th Symphony this week. I assure you we had a few non-legato attacks.

At FFFF some of the time.
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by baileyman » Sun Apr 08, 2018 6:58 am

There are timing differences to consider. A tongued attack is more likely to be at the time you intend. There is lots of timeless legato out there.

tbonedude wrote:
"... If a composer wants to hear a phrase legato, they'll mark it as such."

In my experience even trombone playing composers do not often so notate. And very often in the middle of a legato marked passage it will be clear from the style that a good whacking tongue in the middle somewhere will make the music happen.

But these considerations aside, yes for sure, some people prefer the tongueless sound.
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by Neo Bri » Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:32 am

It's like anything else. It's coordination between slide and air and tongue. I've got pretty good at timing tongueless legato so it's not usually out of time - it's usually very accurate (though it could always be better). Like anything else, do it more and more and it tends to get better and better.
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by imsevimse » Tue May 01, 2018 6:10 am

I allways use a gentle tounge in the low range when the notes are on same partials as if I play C-D-E on 6th, 4th, 2nd.

Sometimes I skip tounge if I cross partials or if the use of valve in between notes solves the legato. If I play Bb, C, D legato I could play Bb on v3 and C on 6th with no tounge, but add a little tounge when going for D on 4th from C on 6th.

In solo jazz ballade playing I advocate no tounge wherever no tounge is possible.

In all legato in classical playing I use as less tounge as possible, sometimes no tounge, but most often a slight touch on all legato notes.

/Tom
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Doug Elliott
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by Doug Elliott » Tue May 01, 2018 7:18 am

You should be able to do everything. So practice legato tonguing everything, practice not tonguing anything, practice every conceivable articulation and type of tonguing, and practice figuring out what combination gives you the sound you want for any particular situation.

I tend to tongue except when I don't. :hi:
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by GabeLangfur » Tue May 01, 2018 8:24 pm

Most composers have no idea how we do what we do. The notation they use is not instructions for technique, but their best attempt to represent the sound they want.

I generally use natural slurs whenever possible, but like Doug, I use whatever technique gets me the sound I hear for what I am playing.
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by Basbasun » Wed May 02, 2018 6:24 am

It all depends on what your teacher say. If he want you to use leagto tongue, do it. It is good to be able to use legato tongue and it is also good to be ableto use against the grain legato. If you are good at it it does sound the same.
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by RustBeltBass » Sat Jul 21, 2018 6:26 pm

As has been said many times above, there are mainly two schools of thought on this issue.
I do not think it is wise to dismiss one or the other as there are great players on both sides. I do believe that the idea of using tongue only when needed in order to avoid the gliss has become more and more the standard in the United States. It has been said that the “tongue everything” method is mainly credited to the Eastman/Remington school of thought.

The “go for the natural slur” method to me seems to have become most prominent through the teachings of the Chicago school, though I am sure both ideas can also be linked to other schools.

I have seen several French trombone books that heavily emphasize the use of alternate positions in order for o avoid using the Legato tongue. I know that other European nations traditionally tend more towards the use of tongue.

Ultimately I believe a great player can be convincing on either method. I also think that the different musical settings require different skill sets and that the more flexibility a player has, the more situations he can master.


One of the lessons I learned in my professional experiences is that nothing holds a player more back than the dogmatic sticking to certain concepts of playing, as good as those might be.
The growth of the player so often depends on his potential to open up to new ideas.
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by MAliesch » Mon Jul 30, 2018 12:33 pm

Short answer: No.

Context is important. It depends on what instruments you're playing with, and what styles. In most band music, if you're doing an accompaniment part filling chords or doubling a valve or keyed instrument, you should probably legato tongue every legato note. If it's part of a brass section style lick with the trumpets, then probably you should tongue it. If your trumpet player isn't tonguing, and instead is doing the typical trumpet player legato breathe swells between notes then you might find it easier to match if you don't tongue.

If it is a trombone section only lick, then you should try to match what you hear from the section leader, or discuss and work it out. If you're the section leader and there's no point in the music where that lick is covered by another instrument first, then listen to recordings. Record yourself/your section doing it both ways, and see which the section likes. Then see which take the conductor likes.

If it's a bass trombone style lick doubling the tuba, then tongue less to match the articulations of the much larger, longer instrument you have to fit with. OR maybe be the point on the note that the tuba can't quite provide without a heavy tongue.

The only "correct" answer is to open up your ears, and know your own playing. Be aware who should be the musical director at that particular point in the music, whether that be a conductor, a first flute, a first cello, a tuba, the lead trumpet, or the first trombone.

In solo trombone literature, do whatever you want. It's your solo, so you're the director now. Unless it's for an audition, of course. For etudes or repertoire, ask your teacher.

As Doug said, you need to practice and prepare to be able to do it in all possible ways. Then as you listen and develop a strong inner musical voice for that particular musical situation, you'll know what you need to do.
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by Savio » Mon Jul 30, 2018 2:23 pm

I like Doug and MAliesch approach to this thread. I use as less tongue as possible in legato. But if the music ask for it I use more. Synchronize slide, air, tongue and rhythm is a clue. Practice all options as Doug say. Legato is part of articulation, and there is so many grades of it. One thing is sure, keep the air flowing.
I just started practice after holyday and try to remember the basics, not easy.....need some more time. Air....flow...music..tongue..not synchronized yet hehe

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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by imsevimse » Mon Jul 30, 2018 4:49 pm

I have found that to practice legato without tongue helps the basics of everything. I've done nothing but practice my legato for the last five weeks.

I play my folksongs in every key which means all kinds of legato will happen and there will be different solutions for a phrase in a different key. I hope to post an update in my legato-thread in a couple of weeks. See if it is getting better.

/Tom
Last edited by imsevimse on Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by Savio » Mon Jul 30, 2018 5:53 pm

Tom, playing folksongs is a good thing! This is how I teach children to play legato; First do it on one note, like F or Bb, play a long note then add a soft tongue when still blowing that long note. Like singing; trom-bone-is-the beeeeeest. Or whatever words that fit. 4 quarters and a hole note. Then move like F-Eb-F-Eb-F...... Natural slurs, I always teach to do them without tongue. I dont have a shortcut or thing than works fast, it always need some time.

In music….no rules. Use everything. Tom, just think like singing! Like in the shower, I bet all of us feel more free there and use air and sing out. Should be same one the trombone?

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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by hyperbolica » Mon Jul 30, 2018 7:08 pm

I don't know if this has been mentioned, and I haven't taken the time to read all the responses, but here goes anyway.

I learned to get all the natural breaks, lip slur across partials and only move the slide the same direction as the pitch if it was a 1 position change. But I didn't complete the course of study with John Swallow, who taught me this.

Now, 30 years later, if I record myself doing lip slurs, I notice that my pitch is all over the place. If I'm above the staff on a D moving to a Bb, I can hear on the recording my pitch actually drop from D until it starts to move from slide motion to the Bb.

So two things. If you use the lip slurs, you've got to be fast and precise. The slide has to be fast, and the lip has to be fast. I'm fat, old and lazy, and I only got half of the story from Swallow, so I my lip slurs often sound like crap. I believe the second half of the story would have been to use the tongue when you need to to make it sound uniform and perfect. Swallow often taught the hard stuff first, and once you had made it sound good, you could revert to doing what was needed to make it sound perfect. Playing for a month without 1st position really made you appreciate it once you got it back. Attacking everything with air attacks for a month really made your articulations more efficient when you could use your tongue again.

So yes, practice the lip slurs without the tongue, but remember that you may need the tongue to make it sound perfect, without lip-induced pitch changes between notes.
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Re: Do you legato tongue every legato note?

Post by jthomas105 » Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:16 pm

hyperbolica wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 7:08 pm
I don't know if this has been mentioned, and I haven't taken the time to read all the responses, but here goes anyway.

I learned to get all the natural breaks, lip slur across partials and only move the slide the same direction as the pitch if it was a 1 position change. But I didn't complete the course of study with John Swallow, who taught me this.

Now, 30 years later, if I record myself doing lip slurs, I notice that my pitch is all over the place. If I'm above the staff on a D moving to a Bb, I can hear on the recording my pitch actually drop from D until it starts to move from slide motion to the Bb.

So two things. If you use the lip slurs, you've got to be fast and precise. The slide has to be fast, and the lip has to be fast. I'm fat, old and lazy, and I only got half of the story from Swallow, so I my lip slurs often sound like crap. I believe the second half of the story would have been to use the tongue when you need to to make it sound uniform and perfect. Swallow often taught the hard stuff first, and once you had made it sound good, you could revert to doing what was needed to make it sound perfect. Playing for a month without 1st position really made you appreciate it once you got it back. Attacking everything with air attacks for a month really made your articulations more efficient when you could use your tongue again.

So yes, practice the lip slurs without the tongue, but remember that you may need the tongue to make it sound perfect, without lip-induced pitch changes between notes.
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