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Guaranteed Feedback on Saxophone Scores

Hey, everyone!

This is Joshua, and I'm a composer and a performer and a new admin for the group Saxophone Ensembles. I just wanna generate some discussion and get some activity for these forums. Alex has done a really great job so far with his helpful information. Now, it's my turn: to do this, I think the best way to start would be a feedback form: post your scores to the group or just post a link in this chat and I'll do my best to give feedback. Arrangements or original compositions, I'd love to look at all of them and give feedback. This is just to raise some awareness for this community and also get activity going. Expect more discussions and whatnot in the near future.

So, if you want any feedback, I'd be happy to give some to your saxophone score. Post to this discussion or just send to me and I'll take a look at it.

Techniques

Can we have a thread where people post all of the different things about how to play woodwinds, starting with the basics of how the sound is produced and how the keys work, and going to various techniques such as fluttertonguing and other things? I think it would be a help for composers who want to write for woodwinds but don't play them (such as myself). I know the basics from Orchestration by Samuel Adler, but it would be nice to have them explained from actual wind players.

Collection of scores: sax solo or with accompanying instrument

This is a collection of scores for sax+accompaniment (sax+piano or sax+guitar) or solo scores, mostly of classical style, provided by ORWELL6 ( https://musescore.com/user/139709 ), checked by me. I also added some scores there. Please feel free to post more scores of this type (post in this group for now and paste the link to it in comments).

The idea is: If we get more shit music of this type, we will create a separate group of classical sax scores, which will contain this set as a part of it.

Lower lip position moving?

It is not discussed too often, but in fact each note fingered on the horn has an “optimal” spot (for lower lip) on the reed. It’s worth covering the edge of the reed with your lower lip for lower notes, whilst uncovering the read is done for higher notes - this allows more of the higher overtones to come out. That is accomplished by lower lip forward and backward movement (not up and down, which results in “biting”): less of the lip’s fleshier area and lip rolling away from the edge of the reed for higher tones (let’s say beginning with higher B - above the staff) and more of the fleshier area and rolling in the direction of the edge of the reed in case of lower tones. You can read more about the lip movement and embouchure in Chapter 6 of David Liebman’s “Developing a personal saxophone sound”

What do you think about this suggestions and what is your experience? I am eager to know how the stuff with lower lip works for you.

[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.

Thematic sets of scores

Here are some links to arrangements grouped by topics in alphabetical order (thanks to Mr.Sax-O-Beat).

Arctic Monkeys https://musescore.com/user/1488461/sets/3961316
Blink-182 https://musescore.com/user/1488461/sets/3954021
Christmas Scores https://musescore.com/user/1488461/sets/3961291
Coldplay https://musescore.com/user/1488461/sets/3961256
Fall Out Boy https://musescore.com/user/1488461/sets/3954016
Gorillaz(https://musescore.com/user/1488461/sets/4808640
Marching Band Arrangements https://musescore.com/user/1488461/sets/4802554
Panic! At The Disco https://musescore.com/user/1488461/sets/3961221
My Chemical Romance https://musescore.com/user/1488461/sets/3953461
Rock (classic rock) Scores https://musescore.com/user/1488461/sets/3961331

Composed Works by Mr. Sax-O-Beat (https://musescore.com/user/1488461/sets/3961351)

Post your arrangements in the group, paste the link and description in comments here, and we will add your score and/or topic to this post, so it would be easy for all interested users to find it

Feedback wanted for a Brass Quartet score

in Brass

Hey,

I was requested a brass quartet arrangement for a Stardew Valley song (the arrangement is here : https://musescore.com/user/5174461/scores/3443856). However, I know close to nothing about theses instruments. I asked the "requester" (is that a word ?) for some feedback but it's been something like a month so I'm not sure I'm gonna get any... I'd still like to finish this arrangement properly so here I am seeking feedback :)

I've already been searching the web for advices but I'm not sure theses replace real experience with the instrument.

Some of my worries / concerns :
Some things may be weird, unplayable, and so on. The song is very rhythmic focused, so I think it's important every player can play his/her part very accurately, or the whole thing will
feel unstable - which is why it's not a good thing if some part are weird to play (some percussions would remove this concern, but it wouldn't be a brass quartet arrangement then)

More precisely :
- if there's not enough time to breath
- if a part isn't in the good range for the instrument (too high / too low / makes thing too difficult)
- if a part is just too quick to be played accurately
- if a part is too tiring for the player
- if a part is assigned to the wrong instrument (another instrument would play the part more easily)

In particular :
- measure 5-9 : not sure whether tuba or trombone has the easiest time for this part. It seems to be more in tuba's range but can definitely be played a bit higher if needed.
- measure 10-17 : same as above for tuba/trombone (for both parts). Also I removed a lot of stuff from the bass line (played by trombone) in order to make it more playable, but maybe that's not enough or is not necessary
- measure 18+ for trumpet : is that even remotely playable for trumpets ? Is it too tiring on the long run ? (i.e. I should switch the trumpets often, or even shorten the whole thing because it repeats a lot in the original song)
- measures 26-33 for tuba : is that too quick ?

Thanks a lot !

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.

Rag Tales album

in Brass

My new album "Rag Tales" is out now. You can find it on Spotify, ITunes, Apple Music, and Google Play among others. I got started right here on Musescore when I was invited to the ragtime players group. Please check it out. I think you will enjoy it. Thank you friends. Just search for " CJ Brandt" or "Rag Tales". Thanks again

Rag Tales album

My new album "Rag Tales" is out now. You can find it on Spotify, ITunes, Apple Music, and Google Play among others. I got started right here on Musescore when I was invited to the ragtime players group. Please check it out. I think you will enjoy it. Thank you friends. Just search for " CJ Brandt" or "Rag Tales". Thanks again

Rag Tales album

My new album "Rag Tales" is out now. You can find it on Spotify, ITunes, Apple Music, and Google Play among others. I got started right here on Musescore when I was invited to the ragtime players group. Please check it out. I think you will enjoy it. Thank you friends. Just search for " CJ Brandt" or "Rag Tales". Thanks again