Ligner, 50 Exercises: Sur Le Coup de Langue Ternaire

Felix Désiré Ligner, 50 Exercises: Sur Le Coup de Langue Ternaire (1876), ed. Henry Howey. Cimarron Music Press CM 2804.

At the 2015 HBS Early Brass Festival at Oberlin College, Henry Howey gave an intriguing talk on Ligner’s etudes. Born in Paris in 1842, Ligner enrolled in the band of the Garde de Paris in 1864 as a “musician, second class.” The source used here is housed in the Bibliotheque nationale de France along with 92 other works by the now little-known musician; these include solos and band arrangements. Howey notes that he became aware of and purchased a copy at a used book and music store while participating in the 1999 HBS Conference in Paris.

According to Howey, this short etude book is significant in that it questions a basic component of wind articulations that has been a corner stone of brass articulation as explained by none other than Arban in his method book. A complex topic, Howey uses Ed Tarr and Bruce Dickey’s monumental Articulation in Early Wind Music as a source for explaining his thesis. The issue involves the K sound in the triple tonguing instruction TTK. Howey contends that Ligner has the K made with the tip of the tongue “anchored” against the lower teeth. The etude book contains mostly triplet figures guiding the trumpeter from relatively simple figures to more and more complex ones, all with the intent of employing a placement of the anchored tongue which is different from the Arban’s suggested practice. Henry Howey has included a diagram of the face, teeth, throat and tongue to further help explain the tongue placement for the proper articulation. We look forward to reading a more detailed study and explanation of this fascinating topic.

-- Jeffrey Nussbaum