Flute Fluttertongue Notation and Audio

A flautist has asked me to add diagonal slashes (tremolo) to the stems of fluttertongue notes. In itself this is not a problem, but it affects the playback, which has always been fine when I simply mark the note flt. (or flz. or frull or f.t.).

But with both the slashes and the marking the fluttertongue the audio takes on an unnatural pulsing quality. Is there any way I can add the slashes but stop them having a playback effect?

Incidentally, though I’ve never previously worried about inserting the slashes this notation (with both verbal indication and slashes) is the one recommended by Gould.

What about writing the notation you want, suppress its playback, then add the effect you want in a second voice and reduce it to 1% scale or to 0% opacity?
A cleaner job would be to suppress the playback of what you see and have a dedicated stave holding every instrument you need this for which plays back but has Staff Visibility Options set to Hide throughout.

Normally with this sort of thing where the notation and playback requirements differ, I just add a second hidden staff below which is similar to @Michele_Galvagno1 approach. First add the notation the way your flautist wants to read it but suppress playback. Then right click for the context menu and under “Staff” choose “add staff below”. Write the notation with f.t. so it plays back correctly and then from the same context menu, select “remove staff”. The staff disappears from the score but the playback remains. So the staff which your flautist will read will have playback suppressed and the staff to be used in playback is itself hidden which gives you the best of both worlds.

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Thank you both for your answers, much appreciated. I’d wondered about using a second hidden voice but thought I might be missing a simpler solution. I think the second stave sounds the better option. I’ll give it a go.

there are potentially quite a lot of situations where this is useful. Trills, multi-note tremolos to say nothing of a bunch of ornaments where there are differing ideas about playback or Dorico isn’t doing it properly. Your own example of a situation where a player would like a specific notation is a category in itself.

Hi, found this because I run into this issue sometimes. I once showed a piece I was working on to a composition teacher, where I had marked flutes with f.t. (which Dorico defaults to when I type fluttertongue). My teacher is a sibelius user for whatever that’s worth, but they told me they had never seen f.t. in a score before, and felt certain woodwind players would be confused by this. When I explained that my intent is fluttertongue, they remarked I should use either unmeasured tremolo (3 marks) or a Z-stem, either of which a woodwind player would immediately recognize as fluttertongue (it’s basically a wind player’s version of tremolo).

The other issue I have with Dorico’s playback treatment of f.t. is that by default it is assigned as direction and not attribute:

Meaning that it will remain in fluttertongue until you tell it otherwise; in order to reset to normal, you have to use ‘nat.’ Another thing my teacher told me a woodwind player might be thrown off by. I personally find this an odd decision since IMHO f.t. is typically a short-term special effect that most composers only want on specific notes and not entire passages (of course if one does want it across entire passages, just like tremolo you would manually notate it on the notes). This seems to be cleaner and what most woodwind players will expect to see, but there will always be exceptions to the rule.

I recently discovered a workaround - go the expression map used by your playback template (in my case I’m using NotePerformer) and with that expression map selected look for in the list Base: Flutter-tongue. Duplicate this so you have the same settings of whatever it triggers (keyswitches or control change etc). Then double-click the duplicate and this list will pop-up, scroll down and select Tremolo (make sure it does not say flutter-tongue + tremolo).

Now whenever you add 3-stroke tremolo, it should trigger the actual flutter-tongue playback.

The issue I’m discovering here is that I cannot figure out a way of saving the expression map in such a way that it will load this way by default in the future (so it’s a step I have to take every single time), unless I save as a project template manually.

Lastly I believe if you want tremolo to be combined with other techniques (legato, muted, etc) you’ll have to duplicate those labelled flutter-tongue + [technique] and do this process again but combined with tremolo instead.

You can also test to make sure it’s working by viewing the key editor to make sure the technique is loading like so:

It should say tremolo but your ears should be hearing flutter-tongue.

I’ve found it to work great on all wind and brass, and it does not appear to interfere with instruments which do not have flutter-tongue (strings, perc etc.)

Lastly this tremolo only works with 3-stroke. I cannot figure out how to find ‘z on stem’ to trigger flutter-tongue. I feel this is likely less common as it is a little more of a percussion notation, but my teacher tells me wind players will recognize it and some prefer it (I haven’t gotten a second opinion on that, so I’ll stick with 3-stroke since I think that’s more common).

As one final step, if you want to remove any ambiguity for players, you can also just add ‘fluttertongue’ as a regular staff text. My teacher recommends against f.t. because not everyone will know what that stands for.

Hope that helps, and if anyone has any idea how to make an expression map change permanent please let us know. Ideally in the future Dorico will make tremolo and flutter-tongue useably interchangeable in the context of winds & brass, since 3-stroke tremolo is a common notation for this.


actually there is a point here. According to my research, best practice seems to be to indicate a tremolo with additional f.t marking (assuming English). I was rather surprised to hear that some woodwind players might not understand the f.t marking but so be it.

Our problem is what I didn’t initially test but can now confirm is that Dorico will try to emulate a tremolo even if there is no corresponding sample (as expected in fact). If you want to show both in the score then you simply need to add the combination in the EM. Then it works. This is going to be easier than creating an extra staff. But indeed you can also, as @wing says, map a tremolo to the f.t patch alone, provided you omit the f.t marking – which may or may not be desirable


Yes, I was surprised my composition teacher didn’t know what this is upon seeing it in my score. He plays french horn and is rather experienced, but says he hasn’t seen it. Could be a regional thing? He said that fl., flz., or literally fluttertongue would be a more common, but just like you say, advises to double down with a tremolo first and foremost, adding a text label to remove any ambiguity, so that’s what I’ve been doing. He says this would be more common. I myself don’t play a wind or brass instrument so I can’t speak to this; I’d be interested in hearing the additional perspectives of wind players on that.

Wikipedia and one or two other sources say f.t is the most common abbreviation in English. But of course many composers will use abbreviations in other languages like flz or flt in German or the Italian frull.

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Having engraved hundreds of pieces and studied countless scores, I can confidently state that Wikipedia is wrong.

(Surprise, surprise…)

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well perhaps with the countless scores you’ve studied, you’d be able to actually enlighten us what Wikipedia have got wrong? (not that I’m terribly interested to be honest but perhaps others might be)

In my experience, (Dorico 5.1.21) making expression map entries for both flutter-tongue and tremolo and then adding both the three slashes and f.t. to a note results in a machine gun effect tremolo - it doesn’t play the sampled tremolo. However, if I remove the flutter-tongue entry and have only tremolo mapped in the expression map, then a note with both three slashes and “f.t.” will play back the sampled tremolo.

that is correct, and one way to do it. My suggestion was to use flutter-tongue or f.t. as regular staff text so it’s not actually triggering a playing technique, really it’s just there for clarity to a player - for the exact reason you discovered, when both methods are triggering the expression map it results in a machine gun like effect. Of course you could also disconnect flutter-tongue from doing anything in the expression map, and still use it as a playing technique, which therefore it won’t double up with the tremolo. In other words, either approach should work (staff text or playing technique which is not doing anything in the expression map).


+1. I know this was from a few months ago, but this is really common and all woodwind players should understand it. Here’s probably the most famous example:

It happens around the 20 second mark in this video: