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Classical sound on tenor

kevgermany

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Looks like a long wait before I get to try them.

@David Roach I was under the impression that most of your work was classical. Are you implying these will work for classical, or were you thinking along jazz lines?
 

David Roach

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Looks like a long wait before I get to try them.

@David Roach I was under the impression that most of your work was classical. Are you implying these will work for classical, or were you thinking along jazz lines?
Kev, I have done pretty much everything in my career. I studied Oboe, Clarinet & Sax at Music College, MD'd for Billy Ocean and Sally Oldfield, worked in BBC kids' programs, the National Theatre, Apollo Sax Quartet, Nyman Band, London Orchestras, sessions, films etc etc. I cover everything, but not necessarily all at the same moment! After years of playing a lot of classical and being quite into it, I am at the moment moving slowly back to my Rock & Jazz roots!

The D'Addario pieces will not be OK for classical work however. Much too big and bright a sound. Classical tenor is a tricky one: very, very few people get the sound right. Most classical players try to play it like a big alto which is all wrong.
 
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kevgermany

kevgermany

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Thanks, makes sense now. What I was hearing from the samples didn't sound like it would work for classical. I thought I was missing something.
 

Nick Wyver

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Classical tenor is a tricky one: very, very few people get the sound right.
That's an interesting comment. Back when I used to play in quartets a lot I switched between the different saxes. The one I had most trouble with was tenor. It never sounded right but I really had no concept of what it should sound like. It seems I was not alone.
 

David Roach

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That's an interesting comment. Back when I used to play in quartets a lot I switched between the different saxes. The one I had most trouble with was tenor. It never sounded right but I really had no concept of what it should sound like. It seems I was not alone.
Quite right Nick, almost no one who studies classical saxophone at Music College has any idea what classical tenor can sound like, because most (not all) of the professors are principally alto players, and in my time at College, principally clarinet players. Also, most of the big star classical players on the continent have no real idea either. This is because most players do not start on tenor, so they transport their alto technique and developed musculature onto the other saxes without questioning. In some ways it is not surprising, because in order to get around the tenor parts of the Sax Quartet repertoire, one has to be just as adept as if one were playing one of the other voices. The problem arises that although that 'cludge' works OK for soprano and to an extent for baritone, it simply doesn't work properly for tenor. The alto's technique makes the tenor's low notes become difficult, the sound become strangled and often, the pitch and intonation a bit weird. The tenor has to be voiced a bit lower, but not too low. The lip has to be looser, but not too loose, the pitch centre lower, but not flat etc etc.

To be fair I have also seen this problem work the other way around. I once tutored a student who, although playing well, had a strangely unfocused and rather flabby sound on alto (in classical terms). I didn't understand why until she played something on tenor when it became obvious that tenor was her voice, or at least her frame of reference.

In my opinion each sax size has to be approached differently and one has to be sensitive to the requirements of each size. Unfortunately we don't always have the luxury of being able to spend the time to understand that fact properly, and on classical courses tenor is often a low priority.
 
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rhysonsax

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What role models would anyone recommend for classical tenor and are there any preferred mouthpieces, other than just the tenor version of classical alto pieces ?

Rhys
 

David Roach

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What role models would anyone recommend for classical tenor and are there any preferred mouthpieces, other than just the tenor version of classical alto pieces Rhys
Kyle Horch, who has been Sax Professor at the Royal College in London has an excellent classical tenor approach. Andy Scott at the RNCM and Apollo Qtet is better than most because he really is a tenor player. The tenor player in Habanera Quartet is excellent, as is the tenor player in Christophe Grèzes Quartet (Christophe is the Mouthpiece and Reed Product Manager for Selmer).

My personal taste in classical mouthpiece for tenor is unorthodox. The last time I played anything classical I used a Theo Wanne Gaia 7* with a Java reed, but that's because it was the mouthpiece I was most used to at the time and is so well made I could achieve the tone and articulation I wanted. It's much more about knowing what it should sound like and having a good tone-image in your head than it is about a particular mouthpiece. For many years I used an Otto Link Tone Master 5 with Rico 2.5 reeds. I have used S80s, but they can be badly faced. I do not like Vandoren classical tenor mouthpieces at all, despite liking their soprano and some of their alto pieces.
 

jbtsax

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On this side of the pond James Houlik is perhaps the most acclaimed tenor player in the classical idiom. One of his students Stephen Pollock plays tenor in the New Century Saxophone Quartet. This is his original composition. You can hear the beautiful sound he gets on tenor toward the end of the piece.

 

Nick Wyver

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Well, should I feel the need (and I feel a bit curious about it now), I've got an old Soloist E - otherwise it's a Francois Louis T 285 SP, Brilhart Ebolin 5 (severely in need of a reface) or an old short bodied, fat chambered, close lay piece of junk from decades past. I've been a lot of "classical" stuff with a pianist lately on soprano so it wouldn't be too much effort to try some on tenor.
 

Jazzaferri

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This thread has been very helpful for me. Now I don't feel so badly for sounding so completely out of place when I played in sax quartet.

I hadn't a clue of what I should sound like
 
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D

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I play tenor in a sax quartet.

Vintage Otto Link number 6.

Thats what it should sound like. None of this C star nonsense on tenor. Thats for wimps.

the tenor saxophone was invented for jazz and should be played as such.

Classical mouthpieces are for soprano and alto , and any other inferior saxes which dont have a strong identity of their own.
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Of course, I may have my tongue firmly in my cheek............. maybe !!
 
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kevgermany

kevgermany

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Must say I'm leaning more and more towards classical. All four members of the quartet have sublime sounds. Now to do some more research on how to get there.

I don't feel so bad about using a PPT for tenor in the orchestra now (covering french horn parts) after hearing about the Gaia. Maybe I'll have another try with the Brilhart, but the tip is very narrow. There's also an unused Yani to try. Hmmmm.
 

ellinas

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I just cant get close to the celloish classical sound with my PPT. A closed vandoren V5 T35 with vandoren blue box 2.5+ makes things a lot easier. For me the classical model sound is that of a cello ...
 

David Roach

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I play tenor in a sax quartet. Vintage Otto Link number 6. That's what it should sound like. ....
Yes, I sort of agree. My approach is primarily to have a more open tip than is normally associated with classical, plus a correspondingly softer reed but which still gives a good, solid, round, classical sound. I do change my sound though for classical; plugging away with the same tone I use for other music would just be wrong. The main thing is to be sensitive to the instruments around you. Of course a more open tip can make articulation more difficult, and it can make the tenor sound unmatched to the others in a quartet, so this is where having a very clear idea of what a classically played tenor should sound like.

Here's a track from a CD I produced of Michael Nyman's music with a tenor sax solo voice.
 

saxyjt

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From what I heard around here (French conservatoire de musique), the mouthpiece of choice for classical tenor is Vandoren T20, perhaps a T25, but that's probably reaching. With a Vandoren blue 3.0 or 3.5 typically.

Of course there is also the Selmer S80 C as @brianr suggested... ;)
 
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kevgermany

kevgermany

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You can get a long way towards it with a tight embouchure, but you're right on the border of jumping an octave from being too tight. I'm finding going to a looser embouchure for non-classical is really difficult.

Just tried some harder reeds, helps.
 

jbtsax

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You can get a long way towards it with a tight embouchure, but you're right on the border of jumping an octave from being too tight. I'm finding going to a looser embouchure for non-classical is really difficult.
Have you tried pushing the mouthpiece on farther, and then playing down to pitch by opening the teeth and oral cavity. This is more tiring than playing with a "firm" embouchure for me when I'm not in shape, but it produces a very full and open sound.
 
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