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playing soprano with a soft sweet sound

Out of Time

formerly "sport"
Messages
24
Locality
Victoria B.C. Canada
I live in a trailer park. When I practice or play I play softly (piano). I have my neigbours blessings for the most part. When we moved in I had my wife stand outside while I played alto, tenor, bari, and soprano. The only one that really stood out and was possibly annoying was the curved soprano. Tenor a close second and alto a bari OK.
I love the sound of my walstein soprano but shy away in fear of disturbing the neigbours. I use a V16 mouthpiece and a 1 3/4 leger reed but find by the time I get past the resistance (air flow to sound) of the horn, enough to make a sound I am louder than the other saxophones.
Is this the nature of the walstein curved soprano or can I soften the sound with another mouthpiece? Or is it the nature of the pitch of the instrument. Suggestions?
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
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Minster On Sea
I can play my BW sop down to a whisper, so it's not that. You need a classical style mouthpiece with a narrow tip opening and a reed that's not too hard.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
How much mouthpiece are you taking into the mouth? That can make a big difference over the control of the dynamics. You might try the Bruce Pearson method of putting an index card between the reed and mouthpiece up to where it stops and marking that position on the sides of the mouthpiece and then drawing a line connecting those side marks across the top of the mouthpiece. That is a good starting point for the top teeth for most players. The amount of lip contacting (dampening) the reed also makes a difference in the amount of control one has over the sound.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Just north of Munich
Agree with the others about learning to play softly. However it's partly a pitch thing.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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14,781
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Burnley bb9 9dn
Go busking. The louder the better and paid for practicing too.

I used to take the alto for a hike into the countryside when I was starting out. Sheep are aren't critics.
 

spike

Old Indian
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2,367
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Half way up a hill
You might try changing from synthetic to natural reeds.
 

Mack

Senior Member
Messages
541
Locality
Devon
I think the sound you develop depends on what music you listen to, and what you want to sound like. I listen a lot to Branford Marsalis (mainly his ballads and classical stuff) and Paul Desmond. On both alto and soprano my sound has moved in the direction of a subtone filled, quite quiet tone. I think as you play some part of your brain is providing feedback to your mouth, and making tiny adjustments to your embouchure etc until the desired sound is achieved - all of it quite unconscious. It's part of the mystery and fun of sax playing.

Also try a Selmer S80 E. Much thicker softer tone than a Selmer S80 C. I have one for sale somewhere I think - let me know if you are interested.

Also check out Wayne Shorter on YouTube playing Footprints on soprano live. Very thick soft sound. It's all in the subtone. (Why does anyone want to play soprano with a hard tone anyway?)

...and why does my predictive text on this iPad fill in subtonecharlie when ever I type subtone? Who is he?!?
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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14,781
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
I recently picked up a selmer S80 in an F and the improvement in my tone and ease of producing it is considerable.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,439
Locality
Sweden
I have an old Kohlert model 1927 soprano without octave key and octave pipes plugged. I play softer and sweeter without octave key. The timbre is also differnt from D2 and above. I use a Selmer metal classic mouthpice with "D" opening.
 

Out of Time

formerly "sport"
Messages
24
Locality
Victoria B.C. Canada
Thank you for your input gentlemen. As I have shied away from soprano, and play mostly alto and some bari I took jbtsax advice and actually put a piece of patch across the mouthpiece to get a feel for placement and that opened up the sound and control. interesting to see, feel where your teeth really are in relation to where I thouht they were. Also went to a signature 2 reed with better results. the other legere was very old, maybe just done.
Was good to hear one other BW soprano player chime in with his personal experience, thought there might have be more. Once again I appreciate all of your input.
 

Ivan

Undecided
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7,851
Locality
Peeblesshire
Was good to hear one other BW soprano player chime in with his personal experience, thought there might have be more. Once again I appreciate all of your input.
Glad you've found some helpful advice about mouthpiece, reed and embouchure

As you might tell from the above the make of the soprano isn't an important factor for this problem
 

BrassSpittoon

New Member
Messages
12
Locality
Earth
Sport,
I appreciate your desire to not disturb your neighbors, and that you're looking for a softer sound. Not wanting to disturb your neighbors is admirable.
However, I wouldn't unduly worry about it. There is always going to be occasional loud noise from everyone in a neighborhood...lawn mowers, modified car exhaust, domestic disturbances, etc. Down here, the law is that "quiet time" is from 10pm to 6am. I won't practice after 9pm., but prior to that, I let 'er rip. I've never had a complaint, and I don't complain about their lawnmowers! :)
 

Zootsax

Member
Messages
40
Locality
NY, USA
I agree with a great deal of what's been said so far, but allow me to throw my hat in the ring. Every voice of saxophone requires the player to adjust the default throat position, that is the most comfortable position that allows the player to comfortably and efficiently play the fundamental tones. Finding a syllable to move the tongue into the proper position can help. For example, I find the soprano needs a much higher tongue, so I feel closer to an "EE" feeling, as in Beet, as opposed to alto where my tongue is slightly lower, like "e" as in Bet. Everyone can benefit from considering what the tongue should be doing when they're not actually tonguing, because it can drastically effect tone production and intonation. Even more so on the soprano, where an inch is a mile. The beast can be tamed!!
 

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