Joe Lovano and the Tárogató

Joe Lovano and the Tárogató

The tárogató, a Hungarian woodwind instrument, boasts a fascinating journey – from battlefield rallies to soulful folk melodies. Even jazz legend Joe Lovano incorporated its unique sound into his music! Intrigued by its history and how Lovano breathes new life into it? Read the full article to discover the tárogató's captivating story!

Ever heard of the tárogató? It might not be a rockstar instrument, but this Hungarian woodwind has a story more intriguing than most. Imagine a musical chameleon, shifting from a battle cry to a folk music legend, and you've got the tárogató.

Back in the day, it wasn't serenading cafes – it was booming on battlefields! With a powerful double reed, it rallied troops and symbolized resistance. But things got rough when the Habsburgs banned it, fearing its rebellious spirit. The poor tárogató almost faded away.

Luckily, it got a second life in the 1890s. Reborn with a single reed and a mellower sound, it found its place in Hungarian folk music. Think soulful melodies and a touch of mystery – that's the tárogató's charm.

It's not just stuck in the past, though. You might even hear it in operas like Tristan und Isolde, adding a unique twist. 

And you can also hear it in Jazz music thanks to the legend Joe Lovano!

Joe Lovano contacted me a few years ago because he was looking for a new mouthpiece for his tárogató. These mouthpieces are hard to find and they usually have really small tip opening.

We had a coffee in Paris and talked about what he was looking for in terms of sound and playing characteristics. The next day we started designing new mouthpieces for him.

The tárogató mouthpieces are a little strange, it's kind of a mix with the saxophone and the clarinet mouthpieces.

As you can see in the pictures, it goes into the instrument as a saxophone mouthpiece but the external shape and the chamber shape are similar to those of a clarinet. Moreover, you can play the soprano tárogató with a B flat clarinet reed.

 So we designed three different models and we sent them to Joe. A few days after I received this message:

"Ciao Pauline, I just received the beautiful mouthpiece you made for me and love it !! I’ve been playing on it all day and am able to do things I’ve never been able to execute throughout the different registers before.. Thanks you so much for your innovative work.. I’ll take a picture and maybe a little video you can post.. I knew that day we met in Paris in Nov was going to have this wonderful outcome."

You can imagine that I was really happy when I received it :)

Here is a little demo video of the mouthpiece:

It's actually not the first time we made a tárogató mouthpiece! Indeed, a few years ago, we designed one for Yochk'o Seffer.

If you also play the tárogató and are looking for a new mouthpiece, please send us an email: We will be really happy to help you!