Tutorials

One step beyond - flutter or growl

AlanB

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Vientiane, Laos
Quick question- in the beginning of 'One Step Beyond' do you think Kix Thompson is using a growl or flutter tongue? I notice that when a growl is played low like on the low D it has a much slower frequency, very similar to flutter tongue.

Waddaya think?
Al
 

thomsax

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Sweden
To me it sounds like a growl with vibrato. The flutter tone is more rapid (you do a rolling "R" against the roof of your mouth). So I think the the growl on "One Step Beyond" is made by a low growl (produced in the back of your mouth/throat) + vibrato. I try to do longtone excercises by adding a growl or vibrato in the middle of the tone. It's hard to produce a growl below low F. But it can be done with right mouthpiece and sax. IMO saxes like old Martins, Kings, Conns, Beuschers, Kohlerts ... is better in this range comparing to modern saxes. The fluttertone is more used in the mid or higher rergister on the sax.

Thomas
 

John Laughter

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Macon,GA
Al, thomsax is correct. And he only uses a little growl at the beginning. When he repeats the same line later he drops the growl. However, this raises and interesting aspect about the use of the growl. When used on middle B and C and upward, especially the left hand range, that is where is becomes very pronounced and effective. When you use the growl starting at about 2nd space A and down it becomes a little garbled (if that is the right word) which, In Kix's case, does make it sound a little like the "flutter" because he is on the border so to speak but it sounds good!

Check it out by playing the growl starting on C and go down the scale and you will hear the difference. Hope this makes sense.
 
OP
AlanB

AlanB

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170
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Vientiane, Laos
Thanks for your ideas Thom, Pete and John. I will try what John suggests. And see what a bit of virbrato sounds like in the mix, as Thom suggests (if I can walk and chew gum that is!).

One thing I have found, as John says, when using growl in the low notes - he describes it as garbled - is that the growl is very unstable. It sounds good for a second, then drops out and sounds rubbish, then with a little adjustment can get it back in, then it falls out again. John - do you try and hum lower than the note or higher, when down that low?

Pete - it is interesting what you said about Lee using a Harmonizer. Can you hear it in One Step Beyond, or is it more of a general observation. If you hear it in OSB, what interval do you think it is. My ears aren't trained enough to hear.

P.S. Pete and John - Your articles on SOTW about Rock 'n' Roll Sax are fantastic. I have printed them all out and have them by my bedside, which i read each night to try and internalise all that you've said. Excellent work.

Cheers,
Al
 

John Laughter

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285
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Macon,GA
Thanks for the thanks Al. I never use the growl in the lower range. I normally use it from middle D and up.

I have read several articles about singing or humming a 3rd above the note that is being played but I have never thought about it while playing. When I started using the effect in the late 50's we never thought about what pitch we were humming. But I do recall other players saying "sing a pitch above the note being played". We of course found that humming the same pitch that is being played would cancel the effect.

I can't normally hear the pitches while playing on stage due to the overall stage volume. I have used the growl for so many years that it just happens. I do hum a pitch higher than the notes I am playing but it is not a consistent 3rd above each note.
 

thomsax

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3,355
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Sweden
I like a slow blues- or a ballad-solo in E concert when they start with a growl on low D# or F# (some guys says you shouldn't start a solo with the root-tone but I think it's ok). These tones are really nice. Besides practising longtone with some growl in the middle you really need to help the low tones to come out. It's almost like a big shake (hard to do sitting) to achieve a low growl (vibrato + humming). You really need a lot of air. The growl on low B or Bb is a slow growl!! For me the low growls is working with a meduim-open or open tip and medium-large or large chamber mouthpiece, hard reeds (I'm playing plasticcover bari # 4 or 5 on it's help to get nice low tones) and the spring tension of closed keys should set hard to prevent the keys from "fluttering" (!!!!).
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
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3,620
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Rugby UK
I like to get a good growl going in the low register, when I'm playing a rock 'n' roll solo, I think it sound great to growl and trill at the same time, it comes out as an overblown harmonic (sort of thing). I love it! As for concentrating on what note I'm humming.... I can only just remember what I' supposed to be playing let alone thinking about what note I'm humming, I think I just hum anything, some dull sort of tuneless note!
 
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