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Playing staccato.

TheMekon

New Member
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7
Ok, I'm a beginner and most stuff is new. When I play the same note staccato style I play it quite well. When I go up the scale it's starts to get squawky. ( is that a word? ). It doesn't seem to get any easier. Is it all about embouchre or anyone got some good advice.
Cheers
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
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3,556
How are you playing staccato?
Are you blowing from your diaphragm? And ending the note by tonguing "dat" rather than "tee" or "tuh"?
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
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A concept that helped me in this area was that the short note is just a small slice of a longer note and should have the same quality. The analogy used was a long log shaped candy bar that represented a long tone. If you took a sharp knife and cut thin slices at regular intervals---each slice would have the same taste as the bar of candy it came from.

Start by playing the high note you are working on as a long tone. When you get the best sound you can then start a pulse and tongue the note in semibreves. When each note sounds as good as the long tone go to minims. When they sound good, go on to crotchets. When those sound good go to quavers. And last, when the quavers sound good go to semiquavers.

If at any time the quality of tone suffers, go back to a longer note duration and practice that some more. A common problem is moving the jaw or chin when trying to tongue fast on the saxophone. This in turn alters the embouchure and as a result the tone suffers. To check for movement, tongue the note B and with your free hand touch under your jaw. If you feel any more than the smallest movement it indicates that the tongue is moving too far inside the mouth causing the jaw to move along with it. Work to move just the end of the tongue the smallest possible distance. Practicing while watching yourself in a mirror is helpful as well. Good luck with your staccato.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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I'm confused... You ask about playing legato, but the title is about staccato...

If you're squawking on legato, try making sure the keys close together, hear/think of the note in your head before you play it, make sure the breath support is there before you close the key. Going over the break from C to D is the hardest and requires most practice. It'll come.
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
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Any kind of tonguing, whether staccato or legato or various combinations, is (apart from the obvious articulation benfits) a great tool for getting your fingers synchronised. It sems that the human tongue wants to work more regularly than the fingers.

Very often people can play a slurred scale quite fast, but the notes (and hence the tempo) is uneven. using your tongue forces the fingers to be more even, because they need to synchronise with the tongue. So it's best to slow your scales down to the point at which your fingers and tongue are in good sync. A metronome will of course help.

Whether then tongued note is legato (full length) or staccato (shorter) is not going to be very relevant, however the tongue placement that ends the staccato note should be very clean and unobtrusive (as it should be to start the note unless you intentionally want an accent)
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Ok, I'm a beginner and most stuff is new. When I play the same note staccato style I play it quite well. When I go up the scale it's starts to get squawky. ( is that a word? ). It doesn't seem to get any easier. Is it all about embouchre or anyone got some good advice.
Cheers
Sounds like there's a fair chance you're moving your jaw (which is in turn pulling your embouchure around) when tonguing. Practice tonguing lightly, with only the tip of the tongue. Look in a mirror if you have to to confirm that there is no visible motion. And what jbt said above as well.
 

What

Member
Messages
314
It sounds like I am just about as new as you, but I have had the same problem and here is what has helped me. I start with long steady single notes, as long as you can get them before they start to wobble. When I get a good long note, I began to break them up at 4 second intervals. Then when that is steady and the notes sound clean from each time, I slowly get faster cutting the time in half each time I consistently get clean notes. I do this about 15 minutes at the start of each practice.

Also like Morgan suggested your jaw might be moving or in my case pressing too hard against your lower lip. I've found the best way to check for this is to slur into the notes that I squawk on and try and notice where my jaw is in relation to my lower lip, then try and remember that when playing said note on it's own. It might help you keep your jaw more properly positioned.

Like I sad I am very new myself, but I hope some of this might help.
 

TheMekon

New Member
Messages
7
Been very busy lately, but thanks for all the advice. By trial and error and taking on board what everyone has suggested, my staccato is improving.

Cheers guys
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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5,946
There's a timing/synchronisation issue here (and you get similar with bowed instruments - putting down the fingers and changing the bow direction). In teh case of teh sax it's timning the note change (fingers) and tonguing the note. The odds are that your tongue is 'quicker' than your fingering / instruments response and you need to work out what works for you.

If it's any consolation, this is something I've been working on recently.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
There's a timing/synchronisation issue here (and you get similar with bowed instruments - putting down the fingers and changing the bow direction). In teh case of teh sax it's timning the note change (fingers) and tonguing the note. The odds are that your tongue is 'quicker' than your fingering / instruments response and you need to work out what works for you.

If it's any consolation, this is something I've been working on recently.
Yes, the only sequence that works for several staccato notes in a row is:

tongue stops note
fingers move
tongue starts note.

And the breath support needs to be there throughout the whole process.

And of course you haven't got time to think about it, so you have to practise it s-l-ow-l-y until it becomes instinctive.
 
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