All fees from subs and sales are given to special needs music education charities
ArtistWorks

How to tongue

apinter

Member
Messages
80
Well, after not so few years in playing it is a bit late to wonder about that. But...

I always tongued notes with the usual movement TA or DA. But I just say Ta or maybe Da in my mouth. The tongue movement stops air but not the reed.
In other words, my tongue never (or almost never) touches the reed (it also gives me an odd feeling to do so).
Lately I discovered that some notes (written with the the accent I won't reproduce here) should be played short and stopped by contact with tongue, which I am not able to do without going in confusion. But even more scaring is the discovery that notes should be started releasing the reed from contact with tongue.

The volume of Larry Teal explains that in a way and in detail that no other method nor teacher has ever explained me before.

I do not do that. I just say TA and DA in my mouth. Now my question is if I missed completely one of the most basic foundation skills in saxophone or maybe this is a technique used only in classic playing for clarity, while a wannabe jazzman is more free to play in different ways.

I ended to mumble on that because I do not like so much my recordings and am looking to obtain a smoother, more controlled flow of phrasing and start of notes. Maybe my wrong tonguing is responsible of that? Or is it a normal way to play and I just need to keep recording me and learn to play better, work on embouchure, air support and all, but without the strict necessity to relearn from scratches how to produce a sound?
 
Last edited:

randulo

Playing alto 25 months
Subscriber
Messages
3,503
Eric Marienthal teaches us to hit the reed with the part of the tongue just above the tip. The part of the reed to touch is below the tip of the reed. He says in staccato, the note is produced by the sound of the tongue leaving the reed.

Others may chime in with other techniques, but this is the one I was taught. Legato playing doesn't have the tongue touching the reed, except to mute half at the end of a note, if desired, or sometimes, the dee dee dee sound.

EDIT: corrected below, but if you are just reading this:
In playing staccato, the tongue is starting and stopping the sound by cleanly allowing and then blocking the air to the reed. The actual note is produced when the tongue leaves the reed, allowing it to vibrate. Legato isn't using the tongue between notes, but may start or stop the sequance of notes.
 
Last edited:

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,490
Now my question is if I missed completely one of the most basic foundation skills in saxophone or maybe this is a technique used only in classic playing for clarity, while a wannabe jazzman is more free to play in different ways.
Touching the reed with the end of the tongue is used in all styles of music, not just classical. What you describe with the tongue touching the roof of the mouth is similar to the tonguing used on flute and brass instruments, but on those instruments the tongue generally touches the roof of the mouth at the back of the top front teeth.

I can see where you could possibly get by with your method for tonguing legato, but not for the other common styles of music which require more "definition" at the beginning of the note. I would suggest you start by just touching the tip of the reed with the part of the tongue just behind the tip and using the "tu" syllable. Do this while barely blowing any air and listen to the "clicking sound" it makes. When that feels comfortable, gradually increase the amount of air passing through the opening of the reed until a full tone is heard. It is important to keep the air stream moving, letting the release of the tongue start the reed's vibration.

Various syllables I use in different styles include: "tu", "du", "tah", "la", "loo", "tut", "dot", and "DAUGHT". These syllables produce notes with different lengths and intensity, but all share the common element of the tongue touching the end of the reed.
 

scotsman

Member
Messages
341
Well, as "a more or less" early busker. I used to just flutter my tongue against the reed. Dont know why..It just made a pretty funky sound. I wasnt told about it. It sort of just happened..Now Im learning more about technique.. Err Sort Of!!! Dont you just love the adventure of playing!!! Regards
 

ProSaxTips

Member
Subscriber
Messages
50
Well, after not so few years in playing it is a bit late to wonder about that. But...

I always tongued notes with the usual movement TA or DA. But I just say Ta or maybe Da in my mouth. The tongue movement stops air but not the reed.
In other words, my tongue never (or almost never) touches the reed (it also gives me an odd feeling to do so).
Lately I discovered that some notes (written with the the accent I won't reproduce here) should be played short and stopped by contact with tongue, which I am not able to do without going in confusion. But even more scaring is the discovery that notes should be started releasing the reed from contact with tongue.

The volume of Larry Teal explains that in a way and in detail that no other method nor teacher has ever explained me before.

I do not do that. I just say TA and DA in my mouth. Now my question is if I missed completely one of the most basic foundation skills in saxophone or maybe this is a technique used only in classic playing for clarity, while a wannabe jazzman is more free to play in different ways.

I ended to mumble on that because I do not like so much my recordings and am looking to obtain a smoother, more controlled flow of phrasing and start of notes. Maybe my wrong tonguing is responsible of that? Or is it a normal way to play and I just need to keep recording me and learn to play better, work on embouchure, air support and all, but without the strict necessity to relearn from scratches how to produce a sound?
I did a YouTube video on articulation, if you want to check it out. It's more about embouchure, but there is a part where I talk about tongue position and how to articulate.
ProSaxTips Embouchure and Articulation
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,490
I found the tonguing instruction quite interesting. I have never hear anyone advocate using the underside of the tongue at the tip to contact the reed. Traditional pedagogy describes both tip of the tongue to the tip of the reed, or the portion of the "top" of the tongue just in back of the tip to the tip of the reed. If the underside works for you, that's great.
 

ProSaxTips

Member
Subscriber
Messages
50
I found the tonguing instruction quite interesting. I have never hear anyone advocate using the underside of the tongue at the tip to contact the reed. Traditional pedagogy describes both tip of the tongue to the tip of the reed, or the portion of the "top" of the tongue just in back of the tip to the tip of the reed. If the underside works for you, that's great.
I'm not sure it you are talking to me directly, but if so, that is how I was taught and how I teach my high school reed players and private lesson students. I feel it has a great articulation response. Thanks for checking out my video (if you were talking directly to me). :)
 
OP
apinter

apinter

Member
Messages
80
Thanks to everybody for the replies.

I take the occasion to thank Prosaxtips for his channel, which I subscribed.

So it seems I have to relearn to play sax from scratches :(

So odd that no teacher ever pointed that... actually my present teacher gave me sheets with short notes to stop with tongue (big problem for me) but never told me my articulation was all wrong.

Thanks to Jbtsax, too. Yes I tongue exactly this way. Tongue on palate (or front tooth) and I start the note telling Ta or Da. Essentially the note start cause the airstream start. I never touch reed with tongue (Trying now for first times results are terrible, because my muscles are not automatized and go in confusion, sending me in confusion too). With my tonguing I can do staccato and accents, soft and string., But maybe the problem is in the control and possible distortions.

Fact is I don’t like much to listen me.


I did a YouTube video on articulation, if you want to check it out. It's more about embouchure, but there is a part where I talk about tongue position and how to articulate.
ProSaxTips Embouchure and Articulation
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Café Supporter
Messages
13,272
He says in staccato, the note is produced by the sound of the tongue leaving the reed.

Others may chime in with other techniques,
Indeed I certainly will as that is very wrong.

Staccato is produced by the tongue touching the reed, not leaving it.

When the tongue leaves the reed, that starts the sound (provided there is air pressure ready to set the reed in motion).

As staccato relies on the sound being stopped before the next note, it is the tongue going back on the reed which causes the end to the note (ie the staccato, which is only about a note ending not a note starting)

Legato playing doesn't have the tongue touching the reed, except to mute half at the end of a note,
:headscratch:

I don't know what that means. There is no tongue at all in legato, except for the first note of a phrase to start it off.
 
Last edited:

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,604
Me, I tongue the end of the reed with a forward and back action. I also use the back of the throat for a less agressive start to the note. I have yet to master the slap tongue and flutter tongue. Can growl good though. Baritone sounds like a chain saw ;)
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
1,803
I've read a few posts recently about articulated notes being played without contact of the tongue to the reed. Leaving double or triple tonguing aside, I cannot see how this would work. Legato tonguing and staccato use the same action, but for staccato the tongue remains in contact with the reed longer in order to create the longer silence between the notes.
None of my teachers (or my mates) have ever talked about a single-tonguing action that didn't involve stopping the reed vibrate by touching it with the tongue. Our tongues are variable sizes and lengths so the part of the tongue that touches the reed is the tip, or slightly under, or over - whichever works - but basically the tip.
This touches the reed also "about the tip" - either on the tip itself, or just under. Much further down and onto the face of the reed will diminish response.
My teaching lineage is classical clarinet and includes David Campbell, Jack Brymer, Thea King, Frederick Thurston, Klose... It's all the same message.
 

ProSaxTips

Member
Subscriber
Messages
50
Thanks to everybody for the replies.

I take the occasion to thank Prosaxtips for his channel, which I subscribed.

So it seems I have to relearn to play sax from scratches :(

So odd that no teacher ever pointed that... actually my present teacher gave me sheets with short notes to stop with tongue (big problem for me) but never told me my articulation was all wrong.

Thanks to Jbtsax, too. ...
@apinter , thank you for checking out my video, I truly hope it is helpful for you. If you need further assistance, please don't hesitate to send me an email
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,490
Here are a few things that I have come to understand about articulation (tonguing). I accept that others with different backgrounds may have a different point of view that works for them.

The tongue pulling away from the tip of the reed allows the reed to vibrate when air pressure is present which makes the sound. The tongue does not literally make the sound but "facilitates" the sound by freeing the reed to vibrate.

The tongue can then stop the reed's vibrations by touching the reed again. If it is done lightly and quickly it creates the sound and style we call staccato. Staccato notes can also be started and stopped with pulses of air alone without using the tongue for certain styles like saying "Ha ha ha ha ha".

If the tongue releases and then stops the reed with more "force" it creates a style called marcato. Depending upon the length of the note different "accents" are played this way as well.

Sometimes notes are started with a breath attack which I prefer to call a breath entrance depending upon the style of the phrase.

At slower tempos notes can be, but are not necessarily stopped by the tongue. If more of a tapered ending to the note is desired it can be stopped by the air. At faster tempos of course, the end of one note becomes the start of the next with single movement of the tongue.

In my teaching I used the analogy that the tongue can either be a "feather" or a "brick" and everything in between depending upon the style and tempo of the music. The placement and movement of the tongue is nearly identical in all styles of articulation. It is just the degree of "emphasis" that changes.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
1,803
I’m not in line with some of this JBT. Accents are a dynamic, IMO and therefore air. The whole premise of the mechanics of articulation is to not hear it happening, merely it’s effect. We don’t want to hear a “thwack” unless we’re talking about tonguing effects like slap tonguing which is aptly named.
 
OP
apinter

apinter

Member
Messages
80
I've read a few posts recently about articulated notes being played without contact of the tongue to the reed. Leaving double or triple tonguing aside, I cannot see how this would work.

.....

None of my teachers (or my mates) have ever talked about a single-tonguing action that didn't involve stopping the reed vibrate by touching it with the tongue.
For the sake of science I could post a short example of how my articulation works.
It works, altough I don’t like how it sounds.

But not at the point to push some of my teachers or mates to ever tell “hey what the hell are you doing”?

I took some lessons at my beginnings, and studied on the Jimmy Dorsey method with teacher. It’s there that I learned that I should pronounce ta da (or else for double and triple). He doesn’t mention the action of the tongue, so I just learned to stop air against roof of mouth, like pronouncing ta and da.

My first teacher maybe was the one who should explain. But he didn’t and I always tought I was doing right in my Mostly self tought further “career”.

Same for further teachers.

Now I have one who is trying to correct the effects (unclean attacks, scooping) and he did in good measure. But my defects are maybe common and he maybe did not understand that tonguing is a problem
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
1,803
For the sake of science I could post a short example of how my articulation works.
It works, altough I don’t like how it sounds.

But not at the point to push some of my teachers or mates to ever tell “hey what the hell are you doing”?

I took some lessons at my beginnings, and studied on the Jimmy Dorsey method with teacher. It’s there that I learned that I should pronounce ta da (or else for double and triple). He doesn’t mention the action of the tongue, so I just learned to stop air against roof of mouth, like pronouncing ta and da.

My first teacher maybe was the one who should explain. But he didn’t and I always tought I was doing right in my Mostly self tought further “career”.

Same for further teachers.

Now I have one who is trying to correct the effects (unclean attacks, scooping) and he did in good measure. But my defects are maybe common and he maybe did not understand that tonguing is a problem
Yes, to quantity - tonguing the roof of the mouth or indeed using a glottal stop does provide separated notes, but not cleanly and in a way that does not compromise the smoothness of sound.
 

randulo

Playing alto 25 months
Subscriber
Messages
3,503
Staccato is produced by the tongue touching the reed, not leaving it.
I wouldn't argue, but I think we're doing the same thing and talking about it differently.

The sound is produced by the reed getting air and vibrating [so far, so good?]
This is a result of the tongue not covering it. [still good?]

Yes, the characteristic sound of staccato (not the note) comes from the tongue touching the reed and cleanly, immediately stopping the sound. "Tak tak tak" as opposed to "Va va vous".

So I believe we're all in agreement.

As for the OP @apinter not using tongue in that way, when you "double tongue", you can produce pulses of sound with the "kuh" sound, so it's not impossible to play notes without the tongue and not have them sound legato. Now I see that's pretty much what Pete E just said.
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Café Supporter
Messages
13,272
.
Yes, the characteristic sound of staccato (not the note) comes from the tongue touching the reed and cleanly, immediately stopping the sound. "Tak tak tak" as opposed to "Va va vous".
Indeed so this is the opposite of what you said above in regard to staccato being produced by the tongue leaving the reed.
 

randulo

Playing alto 25 months
Subscriber
Messages
3,503
Maybe I quoted Eric wrong and he said "Sound produced when the tongue leaves the reed." I understood what I meant to say, but apparently didn't say it :)
 
Saxholder Pro

Members OnlineStatistics

Help!

Sign up to the Mailing List

Latest posts

Top Bottom