SYOS

low notes problem

ArtyLady

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Hi all,

I've been playing tenor for a few months now and thought I was getting on okay - have been going to jazz class and blues jams and generally enjoying myself. (The class is theory based - not a lesson on the instrument so as far as that goes I am self taught).

I do play everyday but sometimes just jam along to stuff so I decided I ought to get down to some serious scale practice/long tones etc and nit picking of my playing. The problem is I've noticed that from f downwards I cannot start a note cleanly - it starts on the octave up and then I have to adjust it down with my air stream to the correct place.

I have absolutely no problem running down or up the scale - they come out cleanly then - it's only if I try to play them as a first note - or jump down from a higher note :confused:

Any ideas anyone? :(
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
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Rugby UK
I think this is due to "air stream" control and embouchure. The reason you can come down a scale and sound the notes well is because you have controlled the air stream and embouchure on the way down. It is like a muscle memory thing. I hope someone else will clear up what I've just said and explain it propper like! :confused:
 
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ArtyLady

ArtyLady

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Essex
I think this is due to "air stream" control and embouchure. The reason you can come down a scale and sound the notes well is because you have controlled the air stream and embouchure on the way down. It is like a muscle memory thing. I hope someone else will clear up what I've just said and explain it propper like! :confused:
Ok thanks Taz - that makes sense, do you think it will gradually improve if I keep working on it? :(
 

Nick Cook

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Wokingham, Berks, UK
Thanks for bringing that up ArtyLady. I have the same problem, except I'm alright with E and sometimes D. Low C and B require a lot of conscious effort before I can get them out first time!!

My teacher says to relax my embouchure more with those low notes. I suppose it's something that will come eventually!!
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
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Rugby UK
Ok thanks Taz - that makes sense, do you think it will gradually improve if I keep working on it? :(
Most definitely! I don't think its a horn issue because you can get to the notes if you work your way there so it can only be a "you" issue. Keep at it and you'll soon be there! :)
 
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ArtyLady

ArtyLady

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Essex
Thanks for bringing that up ArtyLady. I have the same problem, except I'm alright with E and sometimes D. Low C and B require a lot of conscious effort before I can get them out first time!!

My teacher says to relax my embouchure more with those low notes. I suppose it's something that will come eventually!!
Good to hear I'm not the only one, I hope you sort yours soon :)

Most definitely! I don't think its a horn issue because you can get to the notes if you work your way there so it can only be a "you" issue. Keep at it and you'll soon be there! :)
That's good to hear! I did wonder whether there was a problem with the horn, but as you say I can play them by working my way there in a scale. I'll work on them everyday and then I'll report back :D
 

AlanB

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Vientiane, Laos
Hi there - A couple of things. You'll find this thread very useful with lots of good advice from folks on this forum.
Lower notes

In these threads I describe the importance of firm embouchure with good sideways pressure, an open throat and the concept of 'warm air'. Using 'warm air' really helped me clean up my bottom. End that is.

The breath you use to mist up a mirror (i.e. from the bottom of the lungs using the diaphragm), rather than the air most people use to blow out a candle (i.e. using the ribcage) is the one that should be used throughout the range, but when used well, really help you pop out those low notes.

Have a read of the thread above. Kelly Bucheger's Daily grid, here,
Kelly Bucheger’s Saxophone Pages: The Daily Grind
is an excellent reference work for various elements of you practice especially long tones and scales. The part on long tones really helped me as did Pete's pages here

Exercises for Saxophone Tone & Sound

Good luck and have fun.
Alan
 
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thomsax

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Sweden
I would try to do exercises that improves your knowledge and feeling for intervalls, to make equality (an even tone over the whole register) and to get a better intonation (hit the the tone right/clean). I do all these execercises legato (no tongue). Use a metronome (start at 60 bpm) and make sure you have "full tone" and that you hit the note clean. Listen is important. Record yourself. Start with a "small supretonic", "big" supertonic.... and end with an octave. Involve all tones on the sax.

After a while you can involve your tongue. Play staccato and find out your own patterns. Use all tones on your sax. Think as your sax is a snaredrum and your tongue is the drumstick. "Beat two and four" and the pentatonic scale is important if you're into Rocksax.

One of my saxheros, the Swedish saxman Uffe Andersson, did some very good studies in the early 80's when it comes to exercises like this. It helps(ed) me o lot. I'm not sure I'm allowed to upload them. I think I have to ask him first. Beside Uffe, Steve Douglas was another saxplayer who helped me. His instructal video "Rock 'n' Roll Saxophone" gave me the key to Rocksax! But this is another subject?

To play the low tones (C, C#, B, Bb and A) well the mouthpiece and your sax is important. It's at this point you often figure out the differnces between mouthpices and saxes.
It's important (as always) that the tube -bow - bell are sealed/tight proberly (no leaks, soldered, silicone for bathrooms, gum...).I think old American saxes like Martin , King, Conn and Buescher are best when it comes to the low tones. The keygaurds should be connetcted to the tube as well. This makes sturdy constructions togheter with soldered "bottom". This is my own opinon. The saxguru Stephen Howard disagree when it comes to this. The best Selmers MK VI are the ones that have soldered tube -bow - bell!

Sorry off topic again!

Thomas
 
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ArtyLady

ArtyLady

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thanks for all the advice - I will plod on and work hard at it - hopefully it will resolve :)
 

Saxlicker

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Breakfast room since '06 UK
Hi Artylady,

Good advice all round from the previous posts.

For my 2 pence worth, I'd make sure my muscles knew what blowing with diaphragm support really is.

1) Get a book or VHS casstte case, upside down breakfast bowl or something similar.
2) Lay on the floor, face up.
3) Put the object on your lower stomach.
4) Now, breathe in slowly and concentrate on filling the lower stomach area first and watch the object rise instead of your lungs inflating.
As you continue to breath in of course your lungs will then inflate too. (you are filling from the bottom of your lungs upward)
5) Now once you have a full breath, breathe out slowly and controlled.
You should feel the suport from your diaphragm.

Thats the theory, I'd do this for a few minutes for a few days and then transfer it to the breath you take before blowing the sax. It takes a little thought on that breath initially but then becomes second nature.
I know there is a lot to take in but only with that steady embouchure and some decent long note practise will all 3 come together and let you get those low notes confidently and consistantly.
Good luck.
 
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ArtyLady

ArtyLady

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Thanks for that Saxlicker - useful to know. The weird thing is I don't have any problem with the low notes except when I go straight to one as my first note isn't clean it comes out just as the octave above until I wrestle it down ;}

Other than that they are solid and consistent and I'm happy with them. :welldone
 
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Saxlicker

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There is a work around.
I think it's called 'pop key technique'.
You play a low note that you can handle very briefly as you start your breath then, bring the other fingers in to play as the note sounds.
Not sure that this is good advice for long term but it could get you out of a hole.
 
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ArtyLady

ArtyLady

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Essex
There is a work around.
I think it's called 'pop key technique'.
You play a low note that you can handle very briefly as you start your breath then, bring the other fingers in to play as the note sounds.
Not sure that this is good advice for long term but it could get you out of a hole.
Bit like a grace note?
 

Saxlicker

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Breakfast room since '06 UK
Bit like a grace note?
Yup!

Also I was just wondering if it works the other way around as well but my sax is put away for the first time in months...(why does work get in the way of stuff?)

So you could try what I was going to by fingering the low note with your left hand forefinger off the B key then pop it on at the last nano second.
 
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ArtyLady

ArtyLady

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Essex
I think I may have found a cause for this, this happens on every note from G downards (gets worse the further down I go) - when the octave key (not the one on the crook but the one on the main body) isn't being held firm by the little arm that pushes down on it. :confused:
 
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