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date: 14 November 2019


  • Sally Sanford


Technique for producing sound by pressing the tip of the tongue against the superior alveolar ridge with the mouth open and bringing the tongue down, thus creating a click. Pitch can be varied by adjusting the length of the phonatory tube by pursing the lips, by lifting the palate, and by making other small opening and closing adjustments in the mouth. Recognizable tunes can be clicked. Dynamics can also vary, principally due to the amount of pressure in the tongue tip and the forcefulness with which it is pulled away from the alveolar ridge. Tongue clicks occur in many African languages, Mongolian shamanism, and various pop, jazz, and scat styles associated, for example, with singers such as Al Jarreau, Janet Lawson, and Miriam Makeba. Karlheinz Stockhausen called for tongue-clicking in Refrain (1959).

Some beat boxers use a different technique, where one side of the tongue is tightened and the other side is loose while air is expelled from the mouth. It is usually microphone-dependent to be sufficiently audible. Another type of click can be made by tightening one side of the tongue and pressing it against the side of the palate and then releasing it quickly....

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