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David's Tip of the Day: Tongue Blocking Tips - Side Flutter

David Barrett Admin's picture

An alternative to the Flutter Tongue is the Side Flutter, where your tongue moves side to side. I commonly see three ways this is approached...

1) The tongue moves side to side on the face of the harmonica. When the tongue is to the right, the low note sounds (D for example on the C Harmonica when performing a 1 draw/4 draw side flutter). When the tongue moves to the left, the high note sounds (4 draw in this case). With a light touch on the face of the harmonica and a relaxed tongue, the tongue moves side to side quickly, jumping between the two octave D's.

2) Perform the same technique as above, but use more of the tip of your tongue so as not to block three holes at a time... this makes a more chordal presentation.

3) Your tongue blocks the center two holes (holes 2 and 3 in this case) and the middle of the tongue (not the tip) moves side to side. As the tongue moves to one side it blocks the airflow through that side of the mouth, creating the same effect as Example 1 above.

Most players use either the Flutter Tongue or Side Flutter, but not commonly both—though it’s great to have both techniques in your repertoire if you can do them. Notable players that use this technique are Little Walter, Kim Wilson, Dennis Gruenling and Joe Filisko.