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[article] The Embouchure

Embouchure is one of the main things affecting the quality and timbre of our sax sound. It includes lips,teeth,jaw tongue as well as almost all the muscles contained in our mouth and face. Embouchure affects both the air stream (finally) coming to your mouth and the characteristics of reed’s vibration. If one has some embouchure faults, it immediately results in unsteady, week and muffled sound and lack of control. Who wants to listen to and to produce that kind of sound ? I bet no one does. So here are a few words about embouchure appropriate for sax playing,

In other words, saxophonists’ embouchure is basically just “how do we hold the mouthpiece in our mouth”. Here is a simple algorithm:

  1. Place the top front teeth on the mouthpiece making sure they are centralized. You can figure the distance between the tip of the mouthpiece and your teeth only by trial and error, as it varies from player to player. Perhaps a good point to start with is about 10 millimeters and then to “find your own place” on the mouthpiece you are comfortable with.

  2. Slightly turn in the lower lip as if you are saying the syllable “v”.

  3. I prefer to obtain the right position of my tongue and lips by imagining that I am pronouncing ö (german o umlaut), as it combines approved and advised by saxophone pedagogues “o” position of lips with “ee” (like in english word “eat”) position of tongue, which makes the air stream (and, consequently, the sound) more focused.

  4. Finger the middle C or B note and blow your horn pronouncing “four” (according to Sonny Rollins) or “vo” (according to Eugene Rousseau) or “vö” (according to me)

But the main thing to keep in mind is that the embouchure should be “natural”. That means firm but relaxed, feeling maybe like putting a popsicle in your mouth; and let’s remember to avoid putting pressure on the reed with your bottom lip.

Playing long tones every day in the beginning of your sax practise session is an indispensable exercise for both our embouchure and breathing.

[article] Tonguing

Most of the sounds played by saxophonists start and end with tonguing, so I want to share with you some exercises which helped me (and, I hope, will help you) to achieve good tonguing technique. Feel free to add your exercises and suggestions as well.

  • Ex.1 Sing the “doo” syllable (pitch is not of importance for the exercise, but don’t change it during the process) repeating it but not interrupting, think of it as singing one long note. But don’t move your lips or jaw. Imagining that you are a ventriloquist really helps to get the right feeling. Notice that your tongue moves straight up and down. That is exactly the way notes are to be tongued on sax

  • Ex.2 Blow some note from the middle range of your horn for 3-5 seconds and then move your tongue up and touch the edge of the read still maintaining air pressure. Then pull the mouthpiece quickly out of your mouth. You should get a rush of air that quickly “escapes” your mouth cavity. If the air stream is weak, then you didn’t manage to keep the pressure behind your tongue. Practise this exercise till you succeed in it, as keeping the pressure even when you don’t play a sound is of much importance for right tonguing

  • Ex.3 Blow again some note from the middle range for 3-5 seconds and then move the tongue up to the read touching it (remember touching somewhere near the edge but not the middle part or the end of the reed) and then immediately down. Keep the speed of tonguing (it’s worth starting from “note tonguing” every 4 seconds). Strive for continuous sound, tonguing should not affect the quality of it.

That exercises I found in John O’Neil’s book long time ago and I felt I benefited from practising them even though I had been already playing saxophone for many years.

When actually playing some music, remember thinking of tonguing like separating long tone into parts (but not making separate sounds, so not splitting in any case) rather than ending every note and beginning another one. The air pressure should be constant and the sound stops immediately when you put your tongue on the read but it continues again immediately when you put it off.

As a warm-up I practise finishing notes both with tongue or without it (maybe adding a small vibrato on the end of the tone for jazz music).

I’ve described the basics of tonguing, but, of course, “in real life” sometimes you need to tongue something stronger and not only “touching the very tip of the read”. In fact different areas of tongue when touching different areas of reed (not only the tip) provide wide range of articulations. See Chapter 5 of “Developing A Personal Saxophone Sound” by David Liebman.

For those of you who wanted to do the Competition (ANNOUNCEMENT)

Sorry all, not enough people entered, and it's the day before February, so I regret that I will now end this because not enough entries wee given. :(

But... I am thinking I will do another competition for the summer. and it will be nature themed, so stay tuned for that!! :D

(and that competition will be for any type of ensemble. I might do a prize, but we will see :D)

Wait What?!

I can't believe it! I'm about to hit 50 followers (only need 7 more)! I know that it isn't mush, but it is something right? Tell if you would like to see an original composition, or an arrangement of a song you like. I'm going to take probably 3-5 ideas so choose wisely as I'm putting this discussion in all the groups I'm in.

Does anyone want to do a Christmas competition? :D

If any of you do, here is what you will be doing!

Write an 'Arrangement' or an 'Original' Christmas song using one of these instrumentations!
INSTRUMENTATION 1:
- French Horn
- 1 of any untuned percussion
- 1 of any tuned percussion OR Piano
- Violins 1&2
- Violas
- Cellos
- Contrabasses

INSTRUMENTATION 2:
- Flute
- Oboe
- 1 of any tuned percussion OR Piano
- Violins 1&2
- Violas
- Cellos
- Contrabasses

INSTRUMENTATION 3:
- Any type of 1 Saxophone
- 1 of any untuned percussion
- 1 of any tuned percussion OR Piano
- Violins 1&2
- Violas
- Cellos
- Contrabasses

***NOTE: you do not need to use ALL the instruments given. Like you could do just Horn and Strings for example. but you cannot mix different Instrumentation Groups***

No time limits, the only limits are your imagination and the instrumentation (and that it has to be Christmas music)! :D

This comp. will not happen if we get less than 5 people, so comment below if you want to, and then post your score's link down below once you have finished it.
*DOES NOT HAVE TO BE POSTED TO MUSESCORE* you can upload to Drive and put that link here too :D
For those who upload to musescore, make sure to put *CMC* in the Title, Thanks!

The winner will receive an UltraHQ Audio!! :DDD
*Conditions for Audio: Must be an original work or a public domain work for Audio. If not, Audio will go to the runner up*

I will decide the deadline once enough people have commented! :D

Really need advice!

Okay, so there's an open evening for an exhibition coming up and I said that I would play piano during the event as sort of background music. I thought I had plenty of music, but after looking through my many folders I realised I didn't have as much as I thought I did. I want to find some easy ish pieces in a classical/elegant style, possibly similar to the music of einaudi and composers alike. If you have found any really good piano solos on musescore then please post the links below! They can be original compositions also if they are in that sort of style. If you can imagine someone playing it in the background them it will be great! Thank you! And I really really hope there are some! They don't have to be yours, just if you find some then please tell me.

I've decided to stay with Musescore

When MS first changed it's format, I was extremely upset. It was a very poor transition with LOTS and LOTS of errors. In the past six months they have cleaned up a lot of problems. They still have not addressed two major problems, as I see it.
1) When cruising the dashboard if you listen to a song, you must go back to the top of the dashboard again. I can go through 7 or 8 pages and then frustration sets in. MS should work towards their software remembering where you are in your dashboard. This would make it much easier to peruse titles.
2) I believe that favourites do not belong on a composers profile page. I would much rather have another 5 of my scores scores show up. This may just be me, but there are many reasons for giving a favourite. Since MS has no "Like" button, I use the Fav for that function. When a young composer has spent a lot of time and energy in trying to write a masterpiece I feel that a fav rewards them for their work. When I really, really like a song... I just download it and add it to my library.

I have looked at other sites, and I see advantages to MS. I will stay, I also intend to make this group larger and more active.

Thanks to all of you members for sticking to the group.
Cheers
Richard

Odd Time Signature Advice

I don't know about you, but I used to have trouble with odd time signatures. Here's how I remedied that.

Adam Neely's bass lessons on youtube are amazing sources of knowledge about time signatures and theory in general, and that's where I learned how to experiment with odd signatures. However, just knowledge isn't exactly enough. You have to listen to some and feel the strange signature. A great band to listen to is TOOL (the one with Maynard James Keenan, etc. etc.), as MUCH of their music is in obscure time signatures. Once you get used to those songs, listen to math rock (a good band is Totorro, spelled exactly like the adorable fluff ball of the character from the movie/anime). Try playing a song on your instrument in odd time signatures, and build a new mental metronome to count that timing.

When you're writing in odd time signatures, avoid what Adam Neely calls the "clave" of the time signature. For instance, in 5/4, the "clave" is two dotted quarter notes, then two quarter notes. This is a common 5/4 rhythm, but it's a bit bland when used over and over again (it's used in the mission impossible theme song). There are thousands of rhythmic combination with even just eight notes, so you can pretty much subdivide it however you want to.

That's all the advice I have, if anyone else has some, the you can put it down in the comments, I guess.

Using [Basic] Counterpoint for Strings, and Starting Out

Writing for strings can be a difficult process and there are so many variables whenever you delve into writing for string players. This strategy may help with some problems, but not all problems will be fixed automatically.

Use counterpoint to help add to your melodies. Keep in mind that you need to be acquainted with counterpoint and counterpoint isn't always easy. If you need help with counterpoint, I'll give you some advice.
- Whenever you have only one line [melody], use the following intervals: Unison, major/minor seconds, Major/minor thirds, Perfect fourths/fifths (watch out and don't use fifths more than once), Major/minor sixths, Octaves or perfect eights... Notice there aren't any Dissonant or augmented values [you're allowed to write them If you don't want strict counterpoint]!
- If you have two voices and want to make each voice singable, be sure to use the following intervals: Unison, Major/minor thirds, Perfect fifths [watch out for paralles] (fourths make it harder for your singers), Major/minor sixths, and Octaves/perfect eights... Notice there aren't any Dissonant or augmented values [you're allowed to write them If you don't want strict counterpoint]!

That's all you need to know. Start with writing for solo instead of a duet. After you learned a little more about counterpoint from that; Write one (more) solo for viola. Afterwards, write a duet piece for any 2 string instruments; Follow the advice for singable voices.

NOTE: THIS ISN'T ALL THERE IS TO COUNTERPOINT IF YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE, GO TO THIS VIDEO SERIES ON YOUTUBE: https://youtu.be/JcqrGLvs95M?list=PLA660D90FB432BD69. TURN UP YOUR VOLUME CAUSE IT'S A BIT SILENT.