In the Advanced Voice Series, in step called the Articulation of L and N on the Gum Ridge, we explored the movement of the front edge of the tongue. Not only did we explore /l/ and /n/, we also played with /t/ and /d/, the other two consonants where the front edge of the tongue touches the gum ridge. Today, we’re going to warm that area up by tapping the the front of the tongue up and down in the /n/ place, but with no sound. I suppose that, if you listen really carefully, you might be able to hear the sound of your tongue slapping the bottom of your mouth, but it’s really faint…
Start by dropping your jaw. Very lightly bring your tongue up to the place where it would make an /n/ sound, and then slap it down behind your lower front teeth. Then repeat that action, faster and faster, tapping the gum ridge and slapping the tongue down. Be sure to keep your jaw still, and let the tongue action move quickly and directly. Breathe both in and out, as you’re flapping your tongue, and try to have the action of the tongue be light and agile, as if it’s dancing inside your mouth.
A more challenging action is to retract your tongue about half and inch from behind your teeth and try to continue the flapping action. Your tongue root will engage in order to pull the tongue back, so it will be difficult to maintain the speed. Generally this is what we want to avoid, but it’s good to feel that tension and understand how it works. And who knows: you could always use that quality for a character voice in the future.
Finally, put your tongue on your lower lip and then do the tongue flapping process, tapping your upper lip and your lower lip as quickly as you can. To most people, this looks quite graphically sexual, so if you want to do this without feeling foolish, self-conscious, or perverse, merely cup your hands over your mouth like you’re doing a big yawn so that no one gets to watch your tongue technique. (Unless you want them to… Might work as a good pick up technique if you were particularly good at it, I suppose…)
As a bonus step, you an move your tongue back into your mouth and try the tapping action on /n/ or /l/, trying to keep your jaw as relaxed as possible, and the speed of your tongue as quick as you can. Think light and quick, and sigh the sound out on a “huh” sound.