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Middle D breaks up on my bari

TonyP

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Hi all,

I know middle D is a problematic note on saxes in general, but I keep it reasonably tamed on alto and sop. On my newly acquired bari (Conn crossbar 1933) its a real problem going up and down. Its stuffy, and breaks up to give a note that is close to A a fourth up. I have had the sax serviced very recently, so it should be ok mechanically.
I have a Link 5 ebonite tone edge mouthpiece and use 2.5 reeds - plasticover, Jazz select, ordinary rico, and the effect is there most of the time.
Should I change reed strength, seek out a mouthpiece that stops this occurring, or just practice long notes more, or what?
I also notice that top notes are fairly sharp with tis mouthpiece (from top D up it gets worse), so perhaps something with a bigger chamber will fix this and the poorly speaking D all in one go?? I wish!!!!

TonyP
 

Fraser Jarvis

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Not sure about baritone, as I've never played one but try pressing palm D at the same time as fingering middle D, solves the problem for me, another cause could be your reeds are a bit stiff particularly if your playing sharp up top.

I wouldn't start messing about to much with mouthpieces all this will lead to is an expensive never ending down hill spiral!
 

aldevis

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Braking middle D one fifth above is quite common on baritone, at least in my case. Both on Selmer and Conn.
It could be an issue with the upper octave vent though. Make sure it stays properly closed.

Tuning wise, the crossbar has that unpleasant habit of being sharp above A2. Many threads on the subject and many modifications around, including the elongated Bergs that Ronnie Ross used to play.

If you are planning to change mouthpiece, my usual recommendation is Ed Pillinger, that has a big variety of designs.
If I am not wrong, the PPT was designed originally on a crossbar.

If you are not planning to change mouthpiece, blu tac. Try to make a small baffle and see if tuning improves.
Recently I have seen gary Smulyan mouthpiece: a metal Link with a metal baffle soldered inside, but he was also playing great on a Vandoren ebonite he was endorsing. He plays a 12m from the 30s too. My 12m is a 60s one, but tuning tendencies should be the same.

Edit: after a second thought, finding the correct position for the mouthpiece on the cork should be the priority. Probably you should pull it out and play it for a while before checking with a tuner again.
 
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jbtsax

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1. Make sure when you finger high G to A that the neck and body octave pads change places quickly and smoothly.
2. Hit the thumb octave lever several times watching the neck octave pad.
3. Next press the thumb lever down very hard. The neck octave pad should not bounce or lift when you do 2 or 3.
4. Check your embouchure tightness by playing A and then with your free hand opening the neck octave and releasing it.
- If the note stays on high A, the embouchure is too tight.
- If the high A is flat and flabby sounding, the embouchure is too loose.
- If the high A is relatively in tune and drops back down momentarily, the embouchure is correct.
5. To "voice" D properly, hum the pitch, then blow that pitch on just your airstream. Then play the note with that feeling.
6. Once you get the D solid, practice slurring back and forth between high A and 4th line D, keeping the D voicing throughout.
7. Practice making D go to the A above on purpose by voicing AHH - EE to learn to control the overtone.
 
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aaronrod

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How long have you been playing?

It took me about 6 months or so to get my tuning in check on baritone, and it's only now (after about 14 months) that I can hit the middle D without breaking - and this is after playing alto for 18 years or so.

Assuming your horn is in good shape, the middle D is just a tough note to hit on a bari. My advice: Relax! I'm sure you've heard it before, but the bari embouchure is a LOT looser than alto or tenor. However, it is also has to be consistently strong - sort of a tight, but loose relationship.

I recently (as in about 4 weeks ago) switched to a Rico Metalite M5 with a 2.5 Fibracell, after using an extremely closed tip mouthpiece (not sure of brand or facing, no markings) with #2.75 Gonzalez reeds. Opening up the tip improved the middle D (I can now pop it out every time without breaking, provided I'm focused), but I took a couple of steps backwards in keeping the upper register in tune. This has gotten better the more I practice, so I'm pretty sure it's me and not the equipment.

Using the attached exercise helped me a lot in getting my middle D under control, and helped with my tuning. Good luck!
 

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Ivan

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Here's me thinking this thread was about the end of a relationship between Bari and the enigmatic 'Middle D'
 

TonyP

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5. To "voice" D properly, hum the pitch, then blow that pitch on just your airstream. Then play the note with that feeling.
6. Once you get the D solid, practice slurring back and forth between high A and 4th line D, keeping the D voicing throughout.

I appreciate the idea is to match the pitch on the instrument with the embouchure shape, as in playing harmonics on the lowest notes but when you say blow that pitch on just your airstream, what do you mean?
Thanks so much for the advice
 

jbtsax

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I appreciate the idea is to match the pitch on the instrument with the embouchure shape, as in playing harmonics on the lowest notes but when you say blow that pitch on just your airstream, what do you mean?
Thanks so much for the advice
Think of it as "whistling" the note, but instead of a clear whistle you make an air sound that has the same pitch. I sometimes call it an "air whistle". It is easy to do, but sometimes hard to describe in writing to someone else. With my students, I just do it and have them imitate what I do.
 

TonyP

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Hi all, can I say thanks to all who have sent advice - its valued greatly, and I shall now practice the various suggestions made, and report back when I've mastered them - may take a while!
The "air whistle" technique from jbtsax has already proved helpful, so thanks especially for that - it works when playing harmonics on the bottom notes and will certainly help in developing altissimo notes.
Middle D - you're going to be the servant now, not the master!!
TonyP
 

jbtsax

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I learned that concept from Dr. Ray Smith at Brigham Young University who is an incredible woodwind doubler. He calls it "playing on the airstream" where your air makes the note before it gets to the mouthpiece or headjoint. It works especially well on flute for obvious reasons.
 

TonyP

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Hi all, can I say thanks to all who have sent advice - its valued greatly, and I shall now practice the various suggestions made, and report back when I've mastered them - may take a while!
The "air whistle" technique from jbtsax has already proved helpful, so thanks especially for that - it works when playing harmonics on the bottom notes and will certainly help in developing altissimo notes.
Middle D - you're going to be the servant now, not the master!!
TonyP
Updating this thread, I have found that the best way to tame the middle D seems to be to match the embouchure to the note - as in "air whistling".
It relates to harmonics practice - Walt Weiskopf has a warm-up exercise in the excellent book "Bullet-proof saxophone playing" by Doron Orenstein (sp ok I hope!) in which you match notes produced from harmonics of low notes to playing them using the normal keys. So, eg finger low Bb and sound middle F, then play middle F normally, BUT KEEPING THE SAME THROAT POSITION.
Its standard stuff, but I thought harmonic practice was just to facilitate altissimo, and I've learned different!
I am getting to be aware of what the embouchure is doing to best support the note I want.
So my middle D works every time I remember to form my D note in the embouchure first.
Any comments from those wiser than me?
TonyP
 

aldevis

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So, eg finger low Bb and sound middle F, then play middle F normally, BUT KEEPING THE SAME THROAT POSITION.
Its standard stuff, but I thought harmonic practice was just to facilitate altissimo, and I've learned different!

And it helps developing your sound. I find this way of working on harmonics much better than the traditional Rascher, where you might easily end up biting.

Your middle D embouchure will become automatic soon:)
 

jeremyjuicewah

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All of the above is good stuff and stuff I will take note of myself. But I have accumulated about 10 tenor mpcs in the search for the right one and some squeak. End of, they just do. On middle D. Worst for me is Soundman. Reasonable price, about 80 euros, and nearly a lovely mpc, but with different reed combinations, different ligs, try what I will, its a squeaker. Mebbe borrow a differnt mpc and give it a go. Sure, I can control the Soundman if I spend all my time concentrating on it, but other mpcs dont need that much work.
 

jeremyjuicewah

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Sondman-apology

Ooops!! Much thanks to Aldevis, massive apology to Soundman. My octave vent was just sneaking a breather when it shouldnt have done. Now my Soundman is fine, does just what I expected it to do. Also my Jumbo Jarvis, which is a cracking mouthpiece dont squeak neither which it was a little. But, strangely my Otto Link never did. That´s still my favourite. But mainly I must undo what I said about the Soundman mpc, I wanted a closer mpc without paying Otto Link prices and I got a good mpc for my money. Once again sorry to the Soundman guys. So what I said re the bari squeaking may still be true, who knows? But what I said about the soundman aint. No, not a bit. And what Aldevis said about the dratted octave vent is worth a look. I would have sworn my keys were fine.
Mike
 

jeremyjuicewah

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Re: Sondman-apology

Ah yes, the good old Jumbo Jarvis, not many of them about.
 

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