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Tone Tone development - Achieving a Bright or Dark sound with an 'old school' trick i use.

thesaxman71

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1,687
The follow was originally a reply i posted on another thread so i slightly adapted it and posted here as i feel it could be of use to others on their quest in tone development. I have had quite a few personal questions on how to develop tone and have been commented on my own tone. So I share one of my learning methods i used and still use and with great success...

I use an old fashioned practice method taught to me by several great 'old school' big band sax players (no disrespect intended)...
The method i use is blowing into a wardrobe or 'tone frequency isolation', as I like to call it, sounds a little odd at first, i know, but it really worked for me BIG time!
You can help shape your sound considerably because when you play into the 'wardrobe' (not an empty one of course!) it dampens the whole sound and isolates certain frequencies that naturally come out so when you play into the wardrobe you tend to hear or have more of a 'buzzy' sound so if you want to play with a more dark sound (think 'Getz-like') you can try to eliminate or dampen them buzzy frequencies by adjustments to your embouchre, throat, position of teeth on mouthpiece and overall blowing to cut down on them higher buzzy frequencies. The same can be done if you wish to add brightness to your sound (as I actually did!), but using the same method but in the opposite way, where you try to enhance them higher buzzy sounds with the above mentioned adjustment techniques. I actually did this method in order to help get the tone/sound i have today and every now and then to fine tune my sound i occasionally go back and do the same procedure.
Once you have adjusted the tones/frequencies to your needs then play in the same way but in a more open space to listen to the difference, if you need to work more then simply repeat the procedure til you are satisfied with the result.
Strange as it may all sound at first and you will probably get funny looks from your other half as mine did (and still does) until she knew what it was all about, BUT, this method REALLY WORKS!

A.) Develop your sound be it a dark warm sound or brighter edgy sound or a nice blend of the two.
B.) Practice quieter, more neighbour friendly practice...
C.) Saves you money by NOT buying saxophone sound dampeners...

I hope this helps someone as it has helped me.

regards and happy progress.
 
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Colin the Bear

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Re: Tone development - Achieving a Bright or Dark sound with an 'old school' trick i

So in brief, you're a closet saxophone player


Come out of the closet
 

jbtsax

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Re: Tone development - Achieving a Bright or Dark sound with an 'old school' trick i

After I read this post, I struggled at first to find an acoustical explanation for the advantage of playing into a closet full of clothes. The best I can come up with is that it comes close to playing in an "anechoic chamber" where there are no reflected sound waves to "mix" with those coming out of the instrument. The clothes absorb most of the soundwaves so the player hears the sound without much of the reverberation "feedback" from the room.

The higher frequency overtones produced by the saxophone come directly out the bell regardless of the note(s) being played. As Benade explains it, these frequencies above "cutoff" (around high F/F#) can't see the "tonehole lattice" so they travel past the toneholes and straight out the bell. This is why putting a fluffed up handkerchief or "donut style" mute inside the bell near the top produces a warmer, darker tone.

"Coloring" the sound in my understanding has to do with the same processes used in singing to produce a bright or dark sound. Singing "EE" with fast cool air produces a bright sound with lots of overtones, while singing "OO" with warm air produces a dark, warm sound. One's set-up can make it less work to achieve one sound over the other, but it is still the player (and the player's concept) that has the greatest effect upon the color of the sound.
 

thesaxman71

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Re: Tone development - Achieving a Bright or Dark sound with an 'old school' trick i

After I read this post, I struggled at first to find an acoustical explanation for the advantage of playing into a closet full of clothes.
just try it and you will see what i mean, it works well. i can mould my sound to what i want using this method, dark or in my preference a brighter sound.
The tone colouring method you mention works but better when you apply it to the wardrobe too as you are able to hear the frequencies in isolation and this helps fine tune the embouchre and blowing adjustments you need to filter out frequencies (for darker) or enhance frequencies (for brighter).
 
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Fraser Jarvis

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Re: Tone development - Achieving a Bright or Dark sound with an 'old school' trick i

Unfortunately I don't own a wardrobe, so am in a bit of a predicament here!
 

thesaxman71

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Re: Tone development - Achieving a Bright or Dark sound with an 'old school' trick i

Unfortunately I don't own a wardrobe, so am in a bit of a predicament here!
hmmm, maybe hang a load of clothes up somewhere ,stick the bell of your sax and hands in the middle of them and try that.
 
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Andrew Sanders

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Ilkley West Yorkshire
Re: Tone development - Achieving a Bright or Dark sound with an 'old school' trick i

An old member of the forum used to recommend playing into a wardrobe so as not to interfere with neighbours
(he lived in a high rise). I tried it an Sue (Mrs S) said it would sound better if I got in the wardrobe as well.

I know where you're coming from. It really does strip the sound down, sometimes it isn't pleasant though. I must try this with the new alto. Thanks for the reminder.
 

thesaxman71

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1,687
Re: Tone development - Achieving a Bright or Dark sound with an 'old school' trick i

An old member of the forum used to recommend playing into a wardrobe so as not to interfere with neighbours
(he lived in a high rise). I tried it an Sue (Mrs S) said it would sound better if I got in the wardrobe as well.

I know where you're coming from. It really does strip the sound down, sometimes it isn't pleasant though. I must try this with the new alto. Thanks for the reminder.
Anytime, always glad when something positive and constructive for someone else happens from my tips.
 

daveysaxboy

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Re: Tone development - Achieving a Bright or Dark sound with an 'old school' trick i

I always think off Getz having a almost alto very light tone and not dark :confused: wardrobe sax playing is news to me :))):))):)))
 

thesaxman71

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1,687
Re: Tone development - Achieving a Bright or Dark sound with an 'old school' trick i

I always think off Getz having a almost alto very light tone and not dark :confused: wardrobe sax playing is news to me :))):))):)))
Try it Dave, this is the exact technique i used to get my tone and build my projection and a method i use to add that nice bright 'ring' to my sound. And Getz tone is more airy , fluffy and less dominant with higher frequencies in it unlike say mr.B' tone which is full of them,(said it again)
 
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thesaxman71

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1,687
Re: Tone development - Achieving a Bright or Dark sound with an 'old school' trick i

No wardrobe? Try the fridge. It could be the rebirth of the cool
naaah he will start shivering and end up with waaay too fast vibrato, so i guess Colin you been blowing into the fridge a lot then? >:):))):)))
 
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Sue

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Re: Tone development - Achieving a Bright or Dark sound with an 'old school' trick i

This is very similar to something discussed when I was at a masterclass (I think it was Snake Davis) some time ago. He advised playing against a wall and really listening to your tone and try and hear all the aspects of the tone.

He said that most people only focus on their main 'edge' tone, the one most obvious to the ear. He advised practising listening to the shadow tone, which he described as the same pitch as your main tone but in the background like an echo of the main tone. And then the overtones (the higher buzzy frequencies you describe Ian) floating above the main tone.

I tried it for a while on long tones but then it slipped out of my routine and I'd forgotten about it until reading this thread so I'm off to the wardrobe later to try this out and if I get into Narnia then even better!! Thanks Ian :)
 

Jamesmac

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1,872
Re: Tone development - Achieving a Bright or Dark sound with an 'old school' trick i

Try it Dave, this is the exact technique i used to get my tone and build my projection and a method i use to add that nice bright 'ring' to my sound. And Getz tone is more airy , fluffy and less dominant with higher frequencies in it unlike say mr.B' tone which is full of them,(said it again)

I think Getz embouchure is more the reason he sounds fluffy and chirps, not that he didn't play into a wardrobe. But there is allways the argument, that if he did, his ear would have told him to change his embouchure .
 

thesaxman71

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,687
Re: Tone development - Achieving a Bright or Dark sound with an 'old school' trick i

This is very similar to something discussed when I was at a masterclass (I think it was Snake Davis) some time ago. He advised playing against a wall and really listening to your tone and try and hear all the aspects of the tone.

He said that most people only focus on their main 'edge' tone, the one most obvious to the ear. He advised practising listening to the shadow tone, which he described as the same pitch as your main tone but in the background like an echo of the main tone. And then the overtones (the higher buzzy frequencies you describe Ian) floating above the main tone.

I tried it for a while on long tones but then it slipped out of my routine and I'd forgotten about it until reading this thread so I'm off to the wardrobe later to try this out and if I get into Narnia then even better!! Thanks Ian :)
Glad to be of service Sue,
good luck in Narnia, give that bloody witch a slap if she offers you some turkish delight ;}
 

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