saxophone basics
saxophone warmup
saxophone tone
saxophone articulation
saxophone vibrato
saxophone technique
saxophone tuning
saxophone education
saxophone teaching
saxophone lesson/masterclass
beginner saxophone
counting, sightreading
saxophone performing
Joe Murphy, saxophone
saxophone techniques
saxophone altissimo
circular breathing
saxophone multiphonics
saxophone quartertones
saxophone slap tongue
improvising, transposing
saxophone resources
saxophone research
saxophone repair/reeds
saxophone literature, recording
jazz saxophone
saxophone history
saxophone humor
 

Saxophone extended techniques

 saxophone altissimo

Start with what you can do and stretch into other areas (slur/tongue, trill, dynamics).  First practice front E & F (forwards/backwards, tongue/slur, loud/soft, long/staccato), then to F# and G, if unsuccessful stay with E and F.  Periodically try the next higher notes, but one must get use to how the mouth feels in altissimo register, so practicing front E and F is beneficial.

Rousseau paper trick can help notes speak. Fold an index card in half, twice. Insert it under the high F key, covering about half of the hole. Instead of fingering front E, F, F#, etc., finger G, A, Bb, etc.  Opening the F key only a little helps the altissimo notes to speak.

Sequence of notes: F, E, (F), F#, F, G

 

Fingerings for Rousseau paper trick.

Without paper in F key move top finger up to X key

 

 

    BbBb  Bb

 

                

 

After successfully getting the G there are a couple paths to try.  Go with the one that yields the most success and perfect it.  Scales to it, intervals, etc.  Possibilities include:

-          G# by lifting right hand first finger F (doesnĄ¯t work with Rousseau trick)

-          A by sliding the right hand side key Bb to also open side key C

-          Try any of the higher notes isolated (A or B are often good), or any of the other fingerings of notes you can already play to sensitize the oral cavity to the various possibilities.

 

Another approach is the overtone series, finger low Bb, keep the fingering and try to get middle Bb, F, high Bb, D, etc. by changing the oral cavity.

Troubleshooting  

Good sources include Dabney/Sinta voicing, Lang 1971, Rascher 1977, Rousseau 1978
link to fingerings

 


Circular breathing
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The principle of circular breathing is quite simple; the problem is getting the mind to accept the fact that it is possible to breath while blowing out.  The following exercise will demonstrate the principle and set your mind at ease.  Standing over a sink, fill your mouth with water.  Now breathe in and out through your nose and continue to do so as you expel the water in a slow, steady stream.  Air can be forced out of the mouth in the same manner, without impairing and in fact without even involving the breathing apparatus.

 

In the beginning stages, gather as much air as possible in the mouth, letting your cheeks puff out much like those of a beginner who has not been instructed otherwise.  The mouth should be tightly closed so the air cannot escape.  Now, as with water, force the air out of the mouth by using the muscle in the cheeks.  If necessary, you can get the feel of it by placing the index fingers in the center of the cheeks and pushing in to force the air out.  Take care not to draw more air up from the lungs or to swallow it.  This was not a consideration with water, a more tangible substance, but is a great problem in this early stage.  Next, while the mouth is filled with air, start breathing in and out through the nose.  While continuing to breathe in this manner again use the cheek muscles to force air out of the mouth.  This is actually an easy process, but for some reason, the mind will not accept it.  Repeat the exercise a number of times in succession until you can adjust to the idea that breathing in and out can be accomplished simultaneously.

 

The next step in the process is to blow air out of the mouth in `normal` fashion, with the aid of the diaphragm, while simultaneously puffing out the cheeks by gathering air in the mouth cavity.  When the cheeks are full, stop the push from the diaphragm, but keep the air flow constant, using cheek muscles. At this instant, more air must be taken in through the nose.  As soon as this has been accomplished, switch back to the diaphragm.  The trick is to make this whole cycle smooth and very quick.  The flow of air must be continuous.  The instrument compounds the problem.  With the mouthpiece in position, the resistance effected by the tightly closed mouth will not be there to control the speed of the cycle.  For this reason, the technique is much easier for instruments with greater natural resistance (double reeds).

 

Begin with long tones and take the breaths quickly.  The tone may stop at first.  This is due primarily to the fact that the puffed cheeks are altering the embouchres.  You may notice large fluctuation in the pitch at the time the breath is taken.  Practice will progressively diminish any change in pitch, and as the technique becomes more natural, it will become unnecessary to puff the cheeks.

 

The final problem is that circular breathing for any length of time leaves a lot of "bad" air in the lungs and results in a very light head.  You can overcome this simply enough by letting all the "bad air out through the nose before taking a new breath in.

by Trent Kynaston

 

 


Double tonguing

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As in most problems associated with saxophone articulation, double tonguing successfully is a result of a constant, fast airstream.

 

1)  Begin with a long sustained tone, interrupted by alternating tu, ku, tu, ku, each syllable = about 60 (using a metronome is not necessary)

2)  Isolate and build up the speed between one set of tu-ku

concentrating on a steady stream of air,

then backwards:

 

 

3)  Play a series of five in a row:

concentrating on evenness of then

rhythm, attack, and sound        

 

 

4)  Begin to change notes in the middle of each exercise (but you must return to step one)

 

Slowly increase the speed and/or number of notes in a row.

Recordings/pieces: Albright Sonata (mvt.4), Hora Staccato, Bid Call by Libby Larsen

 

 

 

 


saxophone multiphonics

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Soprano 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alto 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tenor 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baritone 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


See http://www.mnsfld.edu/~jmurphy/saxweb/bibsearch.cfm  for more sources

Pieces include: pieces by Lauba & Noda


 

 saxophone quarter tones, Pendereki notation

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= quarter tone flat, 

= three quarter tone flat, 

= quarter tone sharp,

=three quarter tone sharp 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


See http://www.mnsfld.edu/~jmurphy/saxweb/bibsearch.cfm  for more resources
Pieces include: Shrude Evolution V


 

 saxophone slap tonguing

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Defining the effect
First, we have to define the concept of slap tongue.  It's easier to demonstrate than define, since the effect is a sound.  A slap tongue may be merely the use of an overly-heavy tongue when articulating.  The resulting sound is similar to any other, but the note begins with an explosive "pop".  I prefer to think of it as a "wood block" effect, very similar to the sound made when hitting a wood block with a drum stick. My favorite use of the slap tongue is in Henry Brant's Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra.  Merely seeing the effect in the music (indicated by a + over or below the note head), however, doesn't mean a thing.  It's only when you hear the masterful performance of this piece by Sigurd Rascher (Woodwind Service record, D105) that the effect comes to life.  Rascher's ability to alternate between the regular and slap tongue is phenomenal and exciting.

Producing the sound
 
Moving the Tongue
1. Place hand 2 inches in front of mouth and whisper "dot".  Leave tongue on roof of mouth for final "t".
2. Repeat step 1, but press tongue hard against roof for "d". Remove in a quick, violent motion and return with hard pressure.
3. Continue 2, working for a loud, popping or clicking sound.  (Do not blow air as when playing a note.  The only air released comes from the violent action of the tongue.  Use the hand in front of the mouth to check this.)

Once the tongue motion is mastered, it can be applied to the instrument.

Making the Sound
1. Place mouthpiece in mouth.  (Use less mouthpiece than normal.)
2. Use tight embouchure to limit reed's vibration.
3. Finger low F.
4. Use violent "dot" tonguing and produce a slap tongued note. (Remember: The only air released comes from the violent action of the tongue.  Do not "blow" air to produce the sound as usual.)

Few students will be successful with this process at first.  This is because most are not patient in learning how to move the tongue.  Be sure to drill the student thoroughly on this before letting them apply it to the saxophone.  Once they begin to get the idea, have them restrict their practice to the lower range with simple rhythms.

Limiting Factors
The slap tongue effect is easiest to produce in the middle and lower registers.  Once you proceed above high A, it becomes more difficult.  Since a longer tube length is used for lower notes, the resonance of the slap tongue is better in this register. The slap tongue effect has not only the timbre of the wood block, but also much of its projection.  Although it carries well, the effect cannot match the fortissimo capabilities of the saxophone. The dynamic level of supporting instruments may have to be altered when the saxophonist uses slap tonguing.

By Dr. Steve Mauk
Pieces include: Jungle by Lauba

Improvising

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¨C         patterns, ear, India

listen/imitate

compose (then compose in fast motion)

just do it! (the free weights approach) could initially limit parameters (drum ¨C no melody; 2 notes)


Transposing

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Useful in jazz, church, shows

As with anything, the more you do it the better you get.

Most common:

C to Bb (piano, guitar part played on tenor or soprano) Add 2 sharps (or take away 2 flats) play up one step

C to Eb (C part played on alto or bari) add 3 sharps, play down a minor third

 

Other helpful hints:

Sometimes instead of reading each note up M2 or down m3, focus on melodic intervals (works best if mostly scalar)

    

saxophone basics
saxophone warmup
saxophone tone
saxophone articulation
saxophone vibrato
saxophone technique
saxophone tuning
saxophone education
saxophone teaching
saxophone lesson/masterclass
beginner saxophone
counting, sightreading
saxophone performing
Joe Murphy, saxophone
saxophone techniques
saxophone altissimo
circular breathing
saxophone multiphonics
saxophone quartertones
saxophone slap tongue
improvising, transposing
saxophone resources
saxophone research
saxophone repair/reeds
saxophone literature
jazz saxophone
saxophone history
saxophone humor

 

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