It should never be lost sight of, that the expression “coup de langue” (stroke of the tongue) is merely a conventional expression: the tongue does not strike. On the contrary, it performs a retrograde movement. It simply supplies the place of a valve.
This circumstance should be well borne in mind before placing the mouthpiece on the lips. The tongue ought to be placed against the teeth of the upper jaw, in such a way that the mouth should be hermetically sealed. As the tongue recedes, the column of air which was pressing against it is precipitated violently into the mouthpiece and causes the sound.
The pronunciation of the syllable, TU *:
serves to determine the striking of the sound. This syllable may be pronounced with more or less softness, according to the degree of force to be imparted to the note. When over a note is seen a long dash:
it indicates that the sound ought to be very short. The syllable ought then to be uttered briefly and drily. When, on the contrary, there is only a point (staccato mark):
you must pronounce the syllable with more softness; so that the sounds, although detached, may yet form a connected phrase.
When upon a succession of notes, there are dots over which there is a slur:
the performer should invariably strike the note with a very soft TU, and then substitute for it the syllable, DU, because the latter syllable not only distinctly articulates each note, but also serves admirably to join notes together.
These are the only three methods of commencing, or, as it is called, “striking” the sound. Further on, I will explain the various articulations. For the present, it is only necessary to know and to practice the simple “coup de langue”; for upon this starting point, the pupils future excellence as an executant entirely depends.
As I have already said, the method of “striking” the sound immediately shows whether the performer possesses a good or a bad style. The first part of this method is entirely dedicated to studies of this description. I shall not pass on to the slur until after the pupil shall have thoroughly mastered the striking of the note.
* The syllable TU and DU are pronounced with a mute articulation. (Sound of U as in sun) The “T” is very distinct, but the “U” should only sound through the air (mute articulation), while holding the shape of the “U” sound inside the mouth.