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Tounging

kevgermany

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Have been avoiding tonguing, cos many of the notes I can get without doing it, and those I need it for weren't blowing cleanly with it - in fact it was making things worse.

Recently discovered that tonguing with the flat part of my tongue (say about 1cm from the tip) seems to damp the reed and give me the clean blown notes I need, but it's a little awkward. But sounds much better than the tip of my toungue.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but everything I've read so far says to tongue with the tip.

Should I revert to trying to tongue with the tip of my tongue? Or should I keep on with the area behind the tip. What I don't want to do is to start doing things I'll have to unlearn later.
 

half diminished

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Kev

Dunno how you can maintain any constant breath control without using the tongue to start and stop the note. As for where, I'd say tip or near tip of tongue to tip or very near tip of reed. I tend to use more of an upward motion (I think) than a back and forward motion but I may be using some of both - it's hard to say but I think ultimately you find what's best by trying out various options.. Check out The Art of Saxophone Playing by Larry Teal. Brilliant book that explains this well.
 

half diminished

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Kev

Here's a tip for you. Check out some Sonny Rollins tunes, especially St Thomas, Alfie and Moritat. His articulation is totally brilliant and playing/ how he plays the head (let alone his solos) is quite hard but teaches you a lot about tonguing. If you don't find the right technique that works for you, you've no chance with playing ths stuff.

It's improved my playing 500%, yeah I know, 500% better than rubbish is still rubbish but I am making progress, even my teach says so.
 

Mack

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Alternative?

Is there an alternative to tonguing? Whenever I try the reed quickly gets wet and the sound is ruined. I cannot get just the tip of my tongure to make contact. Instead I touch the tip of my tongue to the roof of my mouth behind the mouthpiece, sealing off the airway - seems to work...? I am sure it is not as clean as good tonguing but it is what I can manage. I am going to see Maceo Parker tonight who will probably change my mind!
 

Pete Thomas

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Is there an alternative to tonguing? Whenever I try the reed quickly gets wet and the sound is ruined.
No, there is no alternative in conventional playing. Also the reed is supposed to get wet, whether you are tonguing or not. This should help the sound not ruin it.
 

Morgan Fry

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TBH I'm not sure I agree with the tip of tongue-tip of reed thing. For clarinet it's possible because you don't take in much mouthpiece and the angle is different, but on sax it puts the tip of the tongue too far back in the mouth which lowers the back of the tongue too much. If you start with the tongue in the proper position (back high, tip relaxed) and tongue from there, I end up with the area just behind the tip of the tongue just below the tip of the reed.
 

Morgan Fry

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Instead I touch the tip of my tongue to the roof of my mouth behind the mouthpiece, sealing off the airway - seems to work...?
This is bad. It puts the back of your tongue in a position that it is impossible to get a good sound from. -- OTOH, you could try a 'ku' syllable, like a flute player double tonguing.

Don't worry so much about getting just the tip of your tongue to make contact, worry about the result. If the notes are cleanly separated with no change of pitch or volume or tone, you're doing it right.
 

Der Wikinger

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For staccato tonguing the tip of the tongue, for legato tonguing further back on the tongue. without a proper attack on each note, you get a "whoo, whoo, whoo" sound, which sounds like s***.
 

saxnik

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Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom
I agree with Morgan - for clarinet playing you aim for an action similar to saying the vowel "ta", tip to tip.
For sax playing I find I use more of a "da" action, a little further back (~3mm?) from the very tip of my tongue, but placing all 3mm against the first 3mm of the reed. When the reed is wet, and you keep blowing, this will seal the mouthpiece, then when you remove your tongue ("da"!) a sharp attack on the note is produced.
Takes practice though...

Good luck,

Nick

P.S. I've no idea how Maceo gets the attack on his sound, think it must be a combination of tongue and sheer diaphragm pressure!
 
OP
kevgermany

kevgermany

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Since starting the thread I've concentrated a lot on the tonguing. Just behind the tip and the moment - about 10mm, mostly touching a few millimeters of reed.
 

MandyH

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I'd not realised tonguing was a problem - I seem to do it instinctively, but when I was playing last night I tried to work out what my tongue is doing.
It seems to touch the reed immediately inside my bottom teeth, so about 10-12 mm from the end of the reed, since the mouthpiece is in my mouth to the point where there is no loger a gap between the reed and the mouthpiece.
In fact when I really concentrated on it, I would say my tongue slides up and down the inside of my lower teeth.
 

Mack

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If Pete says there is no alternative in conventional playing then I will give it a go for a few weeks - but the tongue to the roof of the mouth does work - I have been playing for a couple of years with that technique and I think I get a good clean attack on the note - something about at it works. Can anyone explain why it should not work? However my concern is that it will limit my future progress if I cannot perfect the tonguing technique. And yes Maceo was hot!!!
 

Morgan Fry

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447
Location
Leeds
If Pete says there is no alternative in conventional playing then I will give it a go for a few weeks - but the tongue to the roof of the mouth does work - I have been playing for a couple of years with that technique and I think I get a good clean attack on the note - something about at it works. Can anyone explain why it should not work?
Why it doesn't quite work has more to do with the sound than with the tonguing itself. In order to voice the horn properly, you should have the back of your tongue high. This puts the front ofthe tongue low (below the reed) and more importantly opens up the throat. Notice where the rest of your tongue is when you put the tip on the roof of your mouth behind the mouthpiece. This high tip position forces the back of your tongue low, which forces the huge part of the tongue muscle that goes down your throat to constrict your airway, and you have less flexibility with regard to back-of-tongue position, so you can't make the subtle changes necessary to play the different registers of the instrument equally in tune with no embochure effort. You may not be noticing it yet, but your sound is suffering due to this tonguing technique.
 

MandyH

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3,389
Location
The Malverns, Worcs
I'd not realised tonguing was a problem - I seem to do it instinctively, but when I was playing last night I tried to work out what my tongue is doing.
It seems to touch the reed immediately inside my bottom teeth, so about 10-12 mm from the end of the reed, since the mouthpiece is in my mouth to the point where there is no loger a gap between the reed and the mouthpiece.
In fact when I really concentrated on it, I would say my tongue slides up and down the inside of my lower teeth.
That was meant to read inside my bottom lip, not teeth :shocked:
 
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