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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.

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.

[article] Breathing

One of the most important, even the most important aspect of saxophone playing technique is producing sound. Well, that’s obvious: after all, music is the sequence of sounds, and if some musician can’t produce full, nice, let’s say “high-quality” sound, then it’s not worth practising anything else - both the performer and the listener won’t like any music such musician could ever play. But the good news are: with “right” breathing and embouchure (position of lips and everything that is in and around your mouth) anyone can produce the sound he or she really happy with. So let’s deal with the first part of it in this overview: breathing. I’ve been playing saxophone for 17 years and would like to share the information on the topic I find extremely useful.

Actually there are three breathing methods that we use during our day-to-day life. Those are: clavicular (colar bone), chest (throatic) and diaphragmatic. In order to get a full-supported sound on saxophone we need to combine all three methods, but the accent should be put on the diaphragmatic breathing, as this one is the most efficient for our goal: wind instrument playing.

So, what is diaphragm? I don’t feel like inventing something new here, but just referring to wikipedia article instead: it is ” a sheet of internal skeletal muscle that … separates the thoracic cavity, containing the heart and lungs, from the abdominal cavity and performs an important function in respiration: as the diaphragm contracts, the volume of the thoracic cavity increases and air is drawn into the lungs.”

The idea is simple: the air flows naturally to the place with less resistance. So all we need is: 1) Exhale as much air as we can, thus making our lungs a low resistance area 2) Inhale expanding our chest cavity as much as we can to get more air (for our future use in playing instrument) - that is done by lowering of the diaphragm. When playing saxophone during exhaling we “support” the air column contracting the stomach muscles, meanwhile preventing the diaphragm to get quickly to the initial “upper” position, That enables us to play long musical phrases with steady tone/sound.
Here are some exercises on the topic.

To feel the diaphragmatic breathing

  • Ex.1 While lying on the floor (or on the bed or couch if your floor is too dirty:) place an average sized book on your abdomen area. Just breath in a regular way and you will notice the rise of the book when you breath in and the fall of it when you breath out. So the whole breathing process consists of expansion during inhaling and contracting on exhaling

  • Ex.2 To feel the diaphragmatic floor extending: bend over, place your hands on the back of the abdomen area and inhale.Then slowly straighten up and try to get the feeling in the abdomen. For more extreme example try panting like you are out of breath while you are bent over.

To practise the diaphragmatic breathing

  • Ex.3
    1. Place your hands on the abdomen or on the back of the abdominal area
    2. Breath in.with your mouth. I visualise it like being a balloon filling with air (under high pressure) by some pump. So the idea is the quick and powerful air flow to your lungs; quick sip of air, kind of “sucking” it through some imaginary straw.
    3. Breath out with a loud whispered sound, something like “ah”. Try to do that as loud as you can and don’t interrupt the sound. In several days you should be able to reach at least 10-15 seconds of sounding this way.

In this exercise feel the muscles in the abdomen squeezing more and more until you run out of breath. Try to exhale all the air you have, think of it as of squeezing out a sponge. At first squeezing is gentle, but when the sponge runs out of water it becomes more tight. And then - back to step 2. Do it several times, from 10 to 20.

Remember: when inhaling don’t raise your shoulders. Of course they will rise( but just a little !) as the chest cavity expands filling with air, but our goal is diaphragmatic breathing, so focus primarily on the expansion in your abdomen area.

Very thorough study of breathing process and its connection with saxophone player I found in David Liebman’s “Developing A Personal Sound” book, also John O’Neil’s “Jazz Method For Saxophone” contains some useful information on the topic. I’ve mentioned only some pieces of information from the books in this article.

Share more thoughts, breathing exercises in comments. I am eager to know your experience on the topic as well.

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.

The Best of Laugh Silly Each Month Contest

I'd like to try something fun in my new role as co-administrator of Laugh Silly. Each Month, I will name the best laugh-inducing, silly composition submitted during the month, at least according to me and then post the winners here.
You are also welcome to nominate what you think are the best of the month, also.

August 2016......

musical chairs competition

here is an idea for a new competition
someone will start a composition with maybe 5-10 bars and then another person will continue it for another 5-10 measures, and then the next person and so on until the game will unexpectedly end (the music stops, in other words) and the last one to enter when the music stops (as determined randomly by the one running the competition) wins.
any takers or anyone want to start a piece?

musescore 2.01 comments

I realize there is likely a discussion of this elsewhere but decided to have my own discussion to keep track of issues. you are welcome to add your own comments of course.

notice that some compositions created in the older version don't open in the newer one, says they are corrupted. I realize my music is very corrupt but musescore could have been a little nicer about it all. that is just plain mean.

notice that the violin sounds a lot better, more pleasant ( I won't say it sounds more like a real violin being played because then it would sound worse, if I was playing anyway)

but also notice that the overall sound seems very quiet. I have to turn the computer volume up really high. and then if I forget and play something with the older version, I am deafened. yowza!

wonder how music made with this new version plays at the online musescore site, or does the sound balance get messed up as it does now…

haven't found how to do some things… seems they changed the layout a bit.

DYDD, The Opera

The following is a synopsis of an opera about the DYDD, Downy Yellow Dingle Dork for those of you who still do not know. (see http://chinadoll123.wix.com/dingle-dork1 and https://musescore.com/groups/the-downy-yellow-dingle-dork-extinction-group and also https://musescore.com/user/266756). Any suggestions or comments are welcome (other than "don't do it") and anyone who would be willing to collaborate or otherwise help in any degree on this project is most welcome. Although it may have taken Rossini only 13 days (supposedly, I also heard 40 days) to write the "Barber of Seville," I am no Rossini of course and this project, if it ever gets done (no, don't start off negatively! be positive) will likely take more like 13 months to put together (being realistic, no?) Anyway, I welcome any comments as always. Thank you, music lovers.

Synopsis of the dydd opera

An opera in Three acts
Patterned after the magic flute
Themes are right to life, preservation, tolerance, freedom

Overture- a medley of the opera tunes
First act
We see the members of the secret audobon discussing the dydd. They sing of the reasons why the dydd must be made extinct and of their plans for its capture and extermination. This should be done very comically.
We then meet some isolated folks who want to save the dydd. These folks each have their own melody and they meet and sing a medley of their individual tunes.
They decide to form the knughts of dingle dork. This introduces the theme of the knughts and their motto.
We get a fleeting glimpse of the shadow of the dydd which introduces its theme briefly. Then we hear its cawing mocking laugh as it flees the pursuing secret audobon
Act one ends with the knughts singing on one side and the secret audobon singing on the pther side their competing themes and aims.
The act ends with both groups expressing frustration at not being able to capture it and we agin hear the dydd’s cawing laugh as the curtain closes.

Second act
This act begins with the chase music as the secret audobon sets its traps and then falls into their own traps.
We then get introduced to the dydd and it sings its tune.it sings about its life and how important and beautiful it is although it Is lonely since there are no other dydds. It can also sing its signature theme.
The knughts then chase after the dydd and they do many comical face plants and capture a dydd doll.
The dydd has many adventures in its travels to other lands. Th act ends with its discovery of pacificus and its capture by the Inhabitants.

Act 3
The third act is the resolution of everything.
As the act opens, we learn about pacificus and the dydd meets a female dydd and sings its love song. It realizes its importance in the world through discovering its history in the land of pacificus.
Meanwhile the secret audobon and the knughts have a showdown and manage to capture each other in their traps.
The act ends with everyone in traps or tied up and the dydd comes center stage and proudly sings its victory song. The female dydd cones out to join it and they sing a duet. Then all the baby dydds join them onstage and everyone sings the grand fanale.

announcing the Laugh Silly Silly Contest for 2016

post your silliest most fun original composition to the Laugh Silly Group and keep us all laughing hilariously. Anything goes. No deadline yet, let's so who is brave enough or silly enough to enter. don't worry, no one will laugh at you, they will just laugh at the brilliant humor and fun of your compositions. Remember, there is no difference between silly and serious in music. they both begin with the letter "S" after all for goodness sake.
elephants_give_me_drinks reportedly already wants to be in this contest with the wonderful composition "One, Two, Three, Four" so it is officially now entered. Listen to it at https://musescore.com/user/561466/scores/383781
So, enter now at Laugh Silly, https://musescore.com/groups/laugh-silly the home of all of musescore's silly, nonsensical, and ridiculous compositions (I just made that up, it might not be true, likely isn't, ok, it is a complete fabrication)