Tutorials

Beginner Tonguing at start and end of note

oldpuffer

Member
Messages
46
Having reached the ripe old age of 55 yrs, and having never played anything musical ever, I've taken up tenor sax :).. can't stop smiling (and having fun). I've had it a week and have my first lesson Tuesday. Using the book 'a tune a day' I am managing to play au claire de la lune.
However, although I am tonguing every note in, I cant work out if I should use my tongue to stop the note or just use breath control. To be honest there is so much going on when I play the 'tune' I can't tell exactly what I am doing, basically I don't want to start a bad habit. When I use my tongue to 'stop' the last note I play it sounds like a 'parp'. When I stop the note without using tongue(usually because I've run out of puff) it sounds better to my untrained ear. I think I'm ending each note with my tongue in preparation for the next note, but with doing something so new, just keeping time is somewhat of a major achievement.

Any help gratefully received, please keep it simple I don't yet understand any technical terms.
 
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BigMartin

Well-Known Member
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3,908
There are no daft questions, only daft people >:) (sorry, couldn't resist).

Au calir de la lune is pretty good going in a week, I'd say. I'd have thought it was a bit early to be worrying about this (esp with your lesson only 2 days away!) but...

Ideally you want to stop the note with your tongue, but gently (unless you want it to be brutal, but probably not for this tune). Like everything else, this takes practice. Also you might want to let the volume of the note drop before you kill it (or not, depending on what sounds best to you). That requires breath control, and again takes practice to make it smooth. If you're already thinking about stuff like this (rather than just "woo-hoo, this is loud!") I expect you'll make an excellent student.

I wouldn't take some of the advice in "Tune a Day" too literally,especially in regard to embouchure and sound production. It seemed to me that it might have been written by a clarinet player who thought playing the sax was the same, but with different fingerings (it isn't).

Keep having fun and paying attention to the details.
 

oldpuffer

Member
Messages
46
Hey Martin thanks for the reply,

I understand now, if anything I may be building the note as it sounds and not letting the volume drop as you say, hence it sounds like a 'parp'. I'll have some more practice today, best way to spend a Sunday afternoon:)
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,664
There's no better way of spending any afternoon in my opinion!

Ok, answers and comments to your post,

First of all, if you think your old at 55, you've joined the wrong forum. OG (Old Git) has that one sown up for sure. He's actually older than Gods dog!

Secondly, I don't think that your going to build up any bad habits before your first lesson. Put it this way, if you can play something that resembles a note, then you are doing well. You're already stringing notes together to form a rudimentary tune so give yourself a huge, if not delicate due to your age, pat on the arthritic back!!

As for the "can't stop smiling" I think you'll find that's just wind! :shocked:

I would say enjoy, but you obviously already are ;}
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
When you are playing you may find it helpful to be making a "doo" sound on notes rather than a "too" sound, so that it encourages you to develop gentler tonguing........... Try doing this without the sax and you should feel quite a difference in your tongue area.

Tom
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,054
Generally speaking the sustained notes should be ended with the breath and not the tongue. To do so produces the TAAAAH-UT sound which is very unmusical. Ending the note correctly is exactly like singing AH and then stopping the air to end the note.

The exceptions are:

- when playing jazz quarter notes (crotchets) which are usually accented you would tongue DOT, or DAUGHT!

- when playing a series of jazz eighth notes (quavers) followed by a rest you would tongue du du du dot.

- when playing a series of eight notes at faster tempos you would tongue tututututut where the tongue that starts the new note also stops the previous note.

- when playing in what I call a "hokey" style where you deliberately put a bump on the ends of notes for effect like dot dot dooot dot dooot. Boots Randolph used this exaggerated tonguing style quite a bit on tenor sax.
 
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oldpuffer

Member
Messages
46
Thanks to all for the warm welcome and informative posts, I see the teacher tomorrow (gulp), I tried a Rico 2 reed for practice today in place of a vandoren 2, as I understand it is slightly softer, as a result of the advice above the tone of the notes seem better, and according to my long suffering wife I sounded more musical as I warmed up, trying to control breathing more instead of blasting through each note, makes the end of each note more under control. As a total novice I am learning to be more gentle, was a bit like a bull at a gate :).

She has now forgiven me for getting the sax cork grease mixed up with her lip salve the day my sax arrived, resulting in her applying the grease to her lips. She might even get to like the taste :))).
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
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8,054
Just don't mention that cork grease is made from animal byproducts and you should be ok. ;}
 

CaillouSax

Member
Messages
62
The best advice I could give you is to follow what your teacher will say. If you're not happy with him or her, change. You have to be confident in the person who is introducing you in this marvelous world: the sax addiction!

Next (and last) advice: practice regularly. The most important thing is not the time you spend in each session, but to practice as often as you can. A 15 minute practice every day, or two days, is better than a 2 hours session once a week, in my opinion.

Welcome in and good luck to you. :)
 
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