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Soprano beginner's first impressions...

zannad

Member
Messages
410
I haven't spent much time with my newly bought Rampone Cazzani vintage soprano but I'm getting the following feedbacks:

1) the air pressure involved is far superior than on Alto or Tenor - must be the bore size

2) the tuning get sharper quicker than in bigger saxes; I'll have to pull the mp after less than an hour of playing - again it must be an issue relative to size...being a smaller horn it gets warmer (and sharper) the faster.

3) the upper register can be messy sometimes and often I don't really blow the higher notes but I tend to "throat" them to improve control (hope most would understand) and if I don't "throat" them I might hit 3/4 different notes with the same fingering - these other tones might be "wrong" if I don't plan ahead - but usually and instinctively I do play higher notes in my head before I hit them - (like in altissimos - isn't just in the fingering)...in general the very high range requires more control than with bigger saxes - or maybe is just that I play the higher range like I'm playing altissimo? Should I trust the machine a bit more (after all this is a Soprano and is designed to play that high) and let go and use less throat? Right now, I trust my "throating" ways...
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
rrrrr....I didn't realized how long a straight soprano could be - in fact mine, being a single body (no detachable crooks) is longer than an Alto Sax = extra costs when traveling by plane.
Another snag of single body sopranos? getting a case for it is difficult (and if you find them they cost more) - I was about to order a typical soprano case only realizing at the last minute that it wouldn't had fitted mine.
On hindsight I'd rather had bought a curved sop...(never mind).
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,381
2) the tuning get sharper quicker than in bigger saxes; I'll have to pull the mp after less than an hour of playing - again it must be an issue relative to size...being a smaller horn it gets warmer (and sharper) the faster.
I haven't ever noticed this temperature effect, but suppose it could be true. Normally an instrument comes up to temperature and tuning in just a couple of minutes. Could your effect be due to embouchure changes ? But tired muscles would normally be slack and lead to playing flat, so needing the mp to go on further.

Small changes to the embouchure and small changes to the mouthpiece position have a much more noticeable effect on tuning the soprano than for the bigger saxes.

Rhys
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
I haven't ever noticed this temperature effect, but suppose it could be true. Normally an instrument comes up to temperature and tuning in just a couple of minutes. Could your effect be due to embouchure changes ? But tired muscles would normally be slack and lead to playing flat, so needing the mp to go on further.

Small changes to the embouchure and small changes to the mouthpiece position have a much more noticeable effect on tuning the soprano than for the bigger saxes.

Rhys
I'm not sure about my lips getting tired so quickly...but after 40-50 minutes I feel the need to pull the MP a bit....then, interestingly, from the imprint in the cork, it is clear that my embouchure is more relaxed than the one used by the previous owner. Maybe I should start a bit flat to allow the sax to get a bit sharper as it gets warmer.
Totally agree about your last statement...the soprano is hypersensitive to positioning.
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
I feel like there is more air pressure involved when I play my soprano than with the Alto and the Tenor - I assume it's to do with the size of the bore...being smaller it involves more compression from the start.
Now, for your answer to that quest in the back of your mind? (thanks)
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
I think I see now what you mean. I am still a bit puzzled, though. I had always assumed of the SATB range the S would require the lowest air pressure. It seems to be the case, however, that managing the embouchure properly, and that may give the impression that more pressure is required.

BTW, I do not have a soprano, but I have been thinking about for at least twelve months. That is a trong recommendation in favour of my knowledge. I have even transcribed the third of Benjamin Britten's six metamorphoses for oboe so that I am ready when the decision is finally made.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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21,947
I think I see now what you mean. I am still a bit puzzled, though. I had always assumed of the SATB range the S would require the lowest air pressure. It seems to be the case, however, that managing the embouchure properly, and that may give the impression that more pressure is required.
Generalising, the smaller the sax, the more pressure and the less airflow is needed. This is heavily influenced by mouthpieces of course.
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
Generalising, the smaller the sax, the more pressure and the less airflow is needed. This is heavily influenced by mouthpieces of course.
basic physics really...
The narrower the opening the more the back pressure - close the opening and you got 100% back pressure (not very healthy).
I took the soprano without reading any advice...I wasn't expecting to find it so physically demanding in terms of air pressure and embouchure too.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
basic physics really...
The narrower the opening the more the back pressure - close the opening and you got 100% back pressure (not very healthy).
I took the soprano without reading any advice...I wasn't expecting to find it so physically demanding in terms of air pressure and embouchure too.
Am going through the same thing at the moment.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
FWIW, I find playing the soprano requires a lot less air pressure than the clarinet. For the record, this is with a Rico Royal B7 mouthpiece and Rico royal 2.5 reeds. In fact, Im, thinking of going up to No 3 reeds for a bit more control. But the embouchure, as with all saxes, needs to be quite relaxed.
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
Am going through the same thing at the moment.
I bet you aren't having problems with your right thumb like myself...
My Rampone & Cazzani is for macho players as there is no ring for the sling and I'm playing it without any support - I'm gradually getting use to it but I'll have to remind myself to pause here and there and relax my hand a bit - still, when playing we forget about pain (the power of music).
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
FWIW, I find playing the soprano requires a lot less air pressure than the clarinet. For the record, this is with a Rico Royal B7 mouthpiece and Rico royal 2.5 reeds. In fact, Im, thinking of going up to No 3 reeds for a bit more control. But the embouchure, as with all saxes, needs to be quite relaxed.
There was a time when I was pushing things a bit too far in terms of tip openings and reed strength (Metalite M9 + vandoren 2.5 (blue!); then, I've read some articles about the dangers of air pressure and decided to take it easy - the B7 should be quite open...I would stick with a 2.5.
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
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25,910
I bet you aren't having problems with your right thumb like myself...
My Rampone & Cazzani is for macho players as there is no ring for the sling and I'm playing it without any support - I'm gradually getting use to it but I'll have to remind myself to pause here and there and relax my hand a bit - still, when playing we forget about pain (the power of music).
My right thumb can suffer playing sop. I have a sling but to be honest it doesn't offer much support. Is it a metal or plastic thumb rest. Mine is metal and I do wonder if plastic would be more comfortable.

Jx
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
My right thumb can suffer playing sop. I have a sling but to be honest it doesn't offer much support. Is it a metal or plastic thumb rest. Mine is metal and I do wonder if plastic would be more comfortable.

Jx
I've glued a mouthpiece patch under the metal thumb rest and it works...
You can see a picture here:



Uploaded with ImageShack.us
btw: that black thing is an half inflated bicycle rubber which severs quite well as a sling - it doesn't attach to the sax but it helps in taking some weight away from my hand (it works) and it also stabilize the sax.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,086
There's a sling on ebay that is described for clarinet and should work for straight sop. It attaches to the thumb. There's also some rubber attachments for the thumb rest.

I opted for a curved sop. There's problems here too with the cramped arm position. Seems we have to suffer for the highs.

I'm using a rico metalite mouthpiece M7 with a vandoren classic 1.5. Not currently having pressure problems but the notes are so close together it's easy to miss if it's a large jump. Easy to run up in semitones though. It's not cheating really.

I do find after a practice session with a lot of high passages there seem to be a lot more dogs hanging around.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
Well, I think this was one of the more productive threads this week, for me at any rate. I'll have to think about the advisability of geting an S a little longer.
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
There's a sling on ebay that is described for clarinet and should work for straight sop. It attaches to the thumb. There's also some rubber attachments for the thumb rest.

I opted for a curved sop. There's problems here too with the cramped arm position. Seems we have to suffer for the highs.

I'm using a rico metalite mouthpiece M7 with a vandoren classic 1.5. Not currently having pressure problems but the notes are so close together it's easy to miss if it's a large jump. Easy to run up in semitones though. It's not cheating really.

I do find after a practice session with a lot of high passages there seem to be a lot more dogs hanging around.
LOL..."more dogs hanging around" and 1 cat (mine) scramming away...the moggy can tolerate the Tenor but hates the Alto and the Soprano.

Now, it brings about the real problem with my soprano experience....those high pitches do annoy my sensitive ears - I'm a natural at the altissimo but I don't practice much them cos' I don't really enjoy high tones in general (as simple as that)...if I forget (the power of the music again) and play at full volume in the high range I'll get my ears ringing for hours...got to buy some ear plugs; then, I'll enjoy my soprano a bit more.
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
Well, I think this was one of the more productive threads this week, for me at any rate. I'll have to think about the advisability of geting an S a little longer.
If you are concerned about the physical efforts and you play the Alto, I would transpose those oboe parts for alto (or clarinet - but I don't know what are your requirements). The tenor feels more open and airy but then one needs a bit more air (and lungs power). All in all, I find the Alto the best compromise and the more comfortable (weight, air pressure, air volume, mouthpiece size etc.)
 

Lelly

Scarily Tall!!!!
Messages
167
I have been playing the sop for about a year having moved from Clarinet. I do find that the air pressure required is quie high - when I 1st started playing I would get quite dizzy!

But now I think i must have developed whatever muscles etc I need as it is so easy to play. So, it does seem to improve with time (well, did for me!).

Lx
 
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