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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.

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

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

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

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......

musescore college

wouldnt it be nice if musescore had a group devoted to educating members on music theory, arranging, orchestration...
yeah, I know that some high school classes use musescore for teaching music but that isnt exactly what I mean here. I mean a place totally here at musescore where members could make intelligent critical educated helpful comments about music.
there are certainly members who are very well educated in music who could help members out with their music, exchange helpful comments, a place where people could actually learn about music rather than the hit or miss experimentation alot of us do. I know I am just talking into the wind, but still, sigh.....oh well.....

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?

EPIC COMPOSER COMPETITION #1 (RULE CHANGE)

ANNOUCEMENT!
Alright guys!! All epic composers are invited to participate in this EPIC SHOWDOWN of EPIC MUSIC CLASHING!!
Dates!
End of May is the due date! compose and put your score the on group page. In discussion, I will put up a poll and see which one is liked the most.
Objective!
Create an Epic score based on the rules I display for the score to follow.
Rules!
MUST BE ORIGINAL!!! NO ARRANGEMENTS!!!!
MUST PUT "Epic Composer Competition #1" IN TITLE OR IT WILL NOT BE IN COMPETITION
ANY NUMBER OF INSTRUMENTS
MUST be 2 minutes long AT LEAST! 8 minutes MAX!!
NO SYNTHESIZERS
Judging!
Audience will be typing if they like it or not like as much.
I will Critic Score for proper formatting and neatness.
Overall highest score WINS
Last Info!
COMMENT IF YOU ARE PARTICIPATING!!
SUBMIT HERE
https://musescore.com/groups/epic-composer-competition-submission

constructive criticism on my string trio please

Ive been playing music myself for a fair while now but never really done much composing so im giving it a go.
I play mainly clarinet, guitar and a little piano so would love to see if some people who are more familiar with strings and musical composition can give me an idea of how this first piece ive tried to write is like.
So yeh any comments would be great

thanks.

https://musescore.com/user/9450766/scores/2091476

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.