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Saxophones Is this normal for an octave key?

ChrisC

Member
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Bearing in mind I have been playing a saxophone for less than a month... so please excuse me if i get the terminology wrong.

I am slowly learning to read music and in the last couple of lessons I have started to learn the D, E and for some reason F sharp in the 2nd register.

Question:
I was noodling around getting the feel for the octave key and going from 2nd register to 1st on the same note and noticed that if I slur from the high note to the low there is a delay of a second or two waiting for the note to drop to the lower note. I was expecting an immediate change but I am new to wind instruments.

Is such a delay normal or could the pad be sticking on the side octave key?

Cheers
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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13,086
I doesn't sound like it's the octave key. The reed gets happy with what it's doing and likes to hang around on the higher note. I don't think it's possible to slur an octave by just pressing or releasing the octave key. It's quite a complicated process.

You're beginning to find the limitations and design flaws that this imperfect instrument we have chosen has. It's quite possible to play in the upper register without operating the octave key by just the power of embouchure.

If the octave jump is working with tonguing then all is fine with the mechanism.

F# is used in the major key of G among others. G to G uses an F#. C to C uses F
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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21,947
I agree with Nick. Normal. But if your embouchure's too tight, you'll find it difficult to slur down like this. In Pete's Taming the Saxophone Vol 1 there are a lot of exercises to help you devlop the technique.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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13,086
Ok, but not after a few weeks on your first saxophone.

I can slur up an octave or more but I think I'd have have problems going down.

I'm off to get the alto and try it.
 

ChrisC

Member
Messages
44
Haha - wasnt expecting it to be an emotive subject.

Slur up is easy enough with the octave key its the slur down... its almost as if the air flow is keeping the higher note in place...

whatever it was just a question in case I had something wrong with my new horn - but I guess i am ahead of myself as usual :D
 

jbtsax

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8,010
Back on topic. . . . .It is quite normal to have a slight delay when releasing the octave key before the lower note "speaks".

Kev is right on about the embouchure being too tight. A couple of ideas that have worked for my students are:

- Check the tightness of the embouchure by playing low A and flicking the neck octave key open with the free hand and letting it close immediately. If it goes to high A and stays, the embouchure is too tight. If it goes to a flat and flabby sounding high A, the embouchure is too loose. If high A sounds nice and the note quickly drops to low A, the embouchure is correct.

- You can also check the embouchure by playing the neck and mouthpiece alone. If the pitch is higher than Ab concert on alto (E concert on tenor), the embouchure is too tight. If the pitch is right at Ab concert, the embouchure has the right tension.

- A trick to help the low note to speak sooner on descending octave slurs is to "mentally" play the lower note while the high one is still sounding and to direct the airstream towards the thumb on the octave button. Using warm air helps as well.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
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3,904
You may find this video helpful. I know I have (and I highly recommend the book)

 
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ChrisC

Member
Messages
44
Aaaaaah now that video helps me understand better... naturally I cant do it, but it at least shows me where I am heading (one day)...

Thanks all
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Innit abaht armoneecs an a ree-lucktens too chanj?
Yes, but you can persuade them they really want to be somewhere else, eg by raising your tongue for the higher note and dropping it for the lower one. I was amazed by how much difference this made the first time I tried it.
 
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BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Aaaaaah now that video helps me understand better... naturally I cant do it, but it at least shows me where I am heading (one day)...

Thanks all
Well, I suppose you need the breath support to go with it, but it's not as hard as you might think. Sing the notes for chest and head voice positions, and notice what you're doing with your tongue as you change. Then blow a low D on the sax (assuming you can get down there yet) and make the same movement. You might be surprised.
 
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