Can somebody teach me to growl??

Der Wikinger

I have been trying to growl on my tenor for daze (and I mean I am in one). Extremely frustrating. I have listened to all the you tube videos on growling. I under stand that it is caused by:

1. Singing in to your mouthpiece while playing

2. Humming through your mouthpiece while playing

3. Clearing your throat into the mouthpiece (sans any phlegm of course)

It seems that I am not capable of any of these as I try and try and just cannot seem to produce the desired growl.

I feel like Sylvester J. Pussycat, he tried to growl like a panther, but all that came out was "meow."

Any suggestions?
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Busking Oracle
I always use the humming method. I've been doing it so long now that I can turn in on or off without thinking and I can give either a full blown filthy dirty screaming growl or a gentle hint of a wisper.
Stick with the humming method, it takes a while to master but it's well worth it in the end.
If you still can't manage it though, try rolling your R's (please, no "oh er misses" jokes) It'll give you what I call the "poor mans" growl. (It's also and more correctly called "Flutter Tongue" (I think))


Senile Member. Scandinavian Ambassadour of CaSLM
I recognise the frustration Larry.

When I put playing music up in the attic 20 years ago, I could do the growl. But now, no more. So I had to learn it all over again, and are still in the process of doing so. Luckily I found (under a huge mound of dust) a stencil of how to do saxophone effects from when I learnt it in the late '70.

Doing effects on the saxophone range in difficulty: Easy - Moderate - Hard
Growling is considered moderate.

1. Put your saxophone away

2. Use your thumb as a mouthpiece and blow like you would on the saxophone.
Remember to keep the flow of air open (you understand what I mean, don't close your throat) and hum while blowing. Feel how the humming is actually resonating from the upper part of your jaw and head. Not from the throat as is widely believed, but from the upper part. Do it a few times and feel it thoroughly. (And do it away from people or they will think you have gone balmy.) Remember that you want to blow and hum simultaneously.

3. Take the mouthpiece and neck off the saxophone and blow. To do the humming now is a bit more difficult. Just remember the feeling you had when you blew on you thumb and try to reproduce it it. Remember the column of air, and keep at it until you are able to blow and hum. Keep in mind that the resonating should come from your jaw and head. When you succeed on the mouthpiece and neck, you will hear the humming, a strange, but growling sound, and run out of air quickly.

4. Now you can try it on the saxophone. It is a bit more difficult than on the mouthpiece and neck, but you should be able to do it. Do not worry that you run out of air quickly or that the humming is loud. It will be better with practise. And don't fool yourself. It will be days, weeks and even month of practise.

All in all, to get the first strange sounding growl out of your saxophone could take from but an hour to several days.


Hope this might be of help. Good luck and happy playing :)


Formerly known as "nachoman"
Oddly- having spent the early part of my career playing rock & roll, blues, ska and.. well.. the arty end of punk rock- can someone teach me how not to growl! I tend to default to a sort of strip joint R&B snarl by default! :(
Saxholder Pro

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