Tongue articulation on the Recorder: An interpretation of Ganassi’s ‘Lingua laquale nõ proferisse sillaba niuna’

  • Pedro Couto Soares
Keywords: Silvestro Ganassi; articulation; Van Eyck; Recorder


Teaching and learning tongue articulation are usually done through analogy with phonetics. The syllables used become biomechanical metaphors that depend on subjective and often imprecise interpretations both from the expert who is trying to describe his skill and the novice who is trying to acquire it. In Chapter 8 of Silvestro Ganassi’s 1535 treatise La Fontegara, there is an enigmatic description of an articulation where the movement of the tongue goes from one lip to the other. Since this movement is not present in normal speech, no syllable can be used as a biomechanical metaphor. In our opinion, most interpretations of this chapter have not been satisfactory. We have developed a tonguing technique that, although it does not follow precisely Ganassi’s description, can be seen as an approximation to his apparent intentions. The tongue movement is similar to the one used in the zaghareet, an ululation common in Arabic culture. Two recorded examples of Van Eyck’s variations with 32nd notes are included to illustrate the use of the technique in a musical context.



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