All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
Tutorials

Beginner Kazoo Effect - what went wrong?

MellowD

Lost In Theory
Messages
544
Last week at training band practice, I had the unfortunate and embarrassing experience of having a kazoo effect happening with my reed. I could feel the buzz going strong on my lower lip, and hear the kazoo sound, while my notes still came out ok.

In some ways it was a pleasant change from the squeaks and squeals, however, inappropriate for Silent Night. I leaned over and commented my apologies to my 15yrs old Tenor compadre who looked stunned and said "oh I thought that was me" - Dang it - wish I'd kept my mouth shut and he could have taken the blame for waking baby Jesus!

However, I know whole-heartedly that it was me. So I wondered who else (because I know there is someone) has had this happen, what did you consider to be the reasons, and how did you deal with it?

What does it indicated about embouchure?
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
984
That's a new one to me Mel. Can you replicate it at will?
I assume its not now a permanent feature of your playing?
 

MellowD

Lost In Theory
Messages
544
That's a new one to me Mel. Can you replicate it at will?
I assume its not now a permanent feature of your playing?
Nope unable to replicate. Never happened before, and so far, hasn't happened since. Having played kazoo when in pantomime (don't ask!) I know what it sounds and feels like and it was definitely a kazoo buzz and sound going on my lip.

On one hand I thought "great, I'm actually getting a vibration in the reed" on the other hand I thought "sure its not supposed to sound like this as an offset"
 

saxmaster

Member
Messages
41
Try humming a different note then what your playing while you blow and see if the same "noise" comes out. This might be the beginning step to a good sounding growl.
 

MellowD

Lost In Theory
Messages
544
Try humming a different note then what your playing while you blow and see if the same "noise" comes out. This might be the beginning step to a good sounding growl.
Nice tip and one to try for sure. I'm positive I wasn't personally humming at the time though as per the Silent Night piece
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,013
Or it could've been a split in your reed?
Good observation. My experience is that when there is too little heart in the reed such as when the reed is too soft for a given mouthpiece it tends more toward the kazoo sound. I wonder if the ligature being too loose might cause this effect as well.
 

MellowD

Lost In Theory
Messages
544
Good observation. My experience is that when there is too little heart in the reed such as when the reed is too soft for a given mouthpiece it tends more toward the kazoo sound. I wonder if the ligature being too loose might cause this effect as well.
There was no visible split in the reed so far as I could tell. I tightened the ligature, and even took the reed out and re-set the position more than once too (within reason as the director was moving on swiftly). I have a large batch of Vandoren Original 2 reeds which came with the sax and the mouthpiece is a Selmer S80 C* which again, came with the sax. It is the only one to have done this, and it played fine for several more sessions at home, until I accidentally caught the tip and broke a chunk off.

The more the conversation goes on, the more it has got to have been something I was doing different surely?
 

sushidushi

Mine's an espresso
Messages
651
I can't help, I'm afraid, but I'd love to be able to make a kazoo sound - at will, I mean, rather than in the middle of Silent Night, which should probably be calmer and bright.
 

MellowD

Lost In Theory
Messages
544
I can't help, I'm afraid, but I'd love to be able to make a kazoo sound - at will, I mean, rather than in the middle of Silent Night, which should probably be calmer and bright.
Seriously? That's two of you who appear to think that I did a good thing not a bad thing? It was through the whole practice of one hour, and I couldn't stop it, so every tune had this kazoo background thing going on. I was verrrry embarrassed though no one except me and the 15yr old next to me seemed to pay any attention
 

sushidushi

Mine's an espresso
Messages
651
Oh, forgot to ask if the kazoo sound continued through other songs after you'd fiddled with the reed and ligature?

Might it be because your embouchure was tiring and your bottom lip flapping against the reed?
 

MellowD

Lost In Theory
Messages
544
Oh, forgot to ask if the kazoo sound continued through other songs after you'd fiddled with the reed and ligature?

Might it be because your embouchure was tiring and your bottom lip flapping against the reed?

I see where you are coming from. However, it was like it for the whole session, so I wasn't tired at the beginning.

As for bottom lip flapping .... I've been accused of my jaw flapping ........... oh that's just the husband!
 

sushidushi

Mine's an espresso
Messages
651
Seriously? That's two of you who appear to think that I did a good thing not a bad thing? It was through the whole practice of one hour, and I couldn't stop it, so every tune had this kazoo background thing going on. I was verrrry embarrassed though no one except me and the 15yr old next to me seemed to pay any attention
Someone else thought so, too...? I did add the rider 'at will'. I can imagine it might be frustrating if it's unexpected.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,096
It may be some kind of resonance or sympathetic vibration you were picking up from other instruments in the band.

It may also be something that is resonating in your head through your teeth on the mouthpiece that may not be audible to anyone else.

I find I sound better to me using a thick mouthpiece patch although the difference is not detectable when I record myself.

Could it be an ear wax problem ?

It may be that you've reached a point in the development of your embouchure where you're producing more power with less effort and your embouchure is changing.

It may be none of these things and you can only identify it by repeating it.

I would add though, that many musicians have made a living playing kazoo. It does seem a shame though that after spending all this time and money you have developed a sound that could be had in five minutes for a couple of quid lol

Just kidding

We never know how we actually sound. The sound from behind the mouthpiece is always different from that projecting out. If nobody complains or gives you old fashioned looks, all is well. We all sound different even when playing identical equipment. If it's in tune and on tempo and the right volume we've done all we can.
 

sushidushi

Mine's an espresso
Messages
651
I see where you are coming from. However, it was like it for the whole session, so I wasn't tired at the beginning.

As for bottom lip flapping .... I've been accused of my jaw flapping ........... oh that's just the husband!
Ah, could you have been talking whilst playing...? :) ;)
 

sushidushi

Mine's an espresso
Messages
651
As children, we were always told not to speak with our mouths full.

When I try to offer such advice to my children, I usually get it wrong and ask them not to eat with their mouths full, but I think deep below the ridicule they know what I mean.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

dubrosa22

Senior Member
Messages
413
Maybe some rather resistant saliva was caught between the reed and facing?
Or it could be the sax playing kid next you and yourself were quite out of tune with each other creating a yucky, wavy pitch warble between the two of you? A long shot...
 

MellowD

Lost In Theory
Messages
544
Maybe some rather resistant saliva was caught between the reed and facing?
Or it could be the sax playing kid next you and yourself were quite out of tune with each other creating a yucky, wavy pitch warble between the two of you? A long shot...
Hmmmm interestingly I'd possibly go with the saliva ......... I could definitely feel the strong buzz in my lip, so I'm certain it was me and not wave forms between myself and my little pal George (who is awesome and so helpful by the way! - he is in the concert band who practice later, so he just comes and sits in the training band and helps me out).
 

sushidushi

Mine's an espresso
Messages
651
Yesterday I had a similar experience in a way. Not the kazoo effect, but I just couldn't play my saxophone. Literally. I tried blowing through it in the usual way, but I could hardly get a sound from it. When I did get a sound, it was little more than a squeak.

And that was after I removed the bass clarinet reed from my alto sax and wondering why the ligature found it difficult to accommodate the reed! :rolleyes::eek:

This evening was rather better, DG :)
 
Saxholder Pro
Help!Mailing List
Top Bottom