All profit supporting   special needs music

Trouble with sound and high notes

Colin the Bear

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,815
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
Playing melodies on just the mouthpiece helps with voicing. No biting. Just changes in oral cavity size and shape.
 
jbtsax

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,983
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
It's unfortunate that the way sax is taught (without reference to singing or at least hearing what you're playing) it takes many years, decades, or in some cases a player never develops the ability to play with good tone or in tune.
It's most exaggerated when you hear a group of saxes playing together or in chamber ensemble. They read the note, press the right key, but the harmony or unison is way out of tune. Did they tune initially? Yes, of course, but if you can't hear the pitch you're playing you're less likely to play it in tune. The sax is an "imperfect instrument". You can play with the right fingering on a horn that's got great intonation completely out of tune.
Over the years I developed a teaching method with beginners that from the very beginning included the steps:
  • Hear the pitch of the note you are going to play
  • Sing or hum that pitch
  • Blow that pitch on the air stream
  • "Buzz" the pitch into the mouthpiece (brass only)
  • Play the pitch on the insstrument

When the ensemble developed some control of the tone production, a part of the warm-up would include playing long tones, and then "bending" the pitch up and down before "matching" a given pitch.
 
J

Ji-em

New Member
Messages
4
Locality
France
Thank you for all theses answers.

The difficulty for me is to find the difference between "singing" and "closing the throat", especially in the high notes. I feel like i constrict my larynx when i try to reach these notes, so i force myself to stop and try to open the throat like if i was yawning... that may be a part of the problem. But I read that opening the throat is essential to have a full tone in the higher register, so i'm still a bit confused.
 
Guenne

Guenne

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,303
Locality
Austria
But I read that opening the throat is essential to have a full tone in the higher register, so i'm still a bit confused.
Forget the yawning.
Quote from Dr.Mark Watkins' "From the inside out":

.....the act of yawning does open the throat, but it also abducts (opens) the vocal folds wide. We don't want this. Vocal folds must be close together (adducted) to strenghten the waves..

It may be better to think of something like whispering.

Cheers, Guenne
 
jbtsax

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,983
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Forget the yawning.
Quote from Dr.Mark Watkins' "From the inside out":

.....the act of yawning does open the throat, but it also abducts (opens) the vocal folds wide. We don't want this. Vocal folds must be close together (adducted) to strenghten the waves..

It may be better to think of something like whispering.

Cheers, Guenne
On the surface I find that "closed vocal folds strengthen the waves" does not match with my understanding of the acoustics that takes place "upstream" in front of the mouthpiece. However I am going to keep an open mind and revisit the work that Joe Wolf and Gary Scavone have done on this topic to see if the "resonance" influence of the "oral cavity" extends to and includes the area of the windpipe where the vocal folds are located. It is an interesting question. :)

As a side note: Dr. Ray Smith who was Mark Watkins teacher when he attended BYU, teaches students to do the first part of a yawn before the swallow reflex takes over to learn the sensation of an open throat.
 
Last edited:
Guenne

Guenne

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,303
Locality
Austria
As a side note: Dr. Ray Smith who was Mark Watkins teacher when he attended BYU, teaches students to do the first part of a yawn before the swallow reflex takes over to learn the sensation of an open throat.
Maybe the truth lies somewhere in the middle:

1 Place your finger on the Adam's apple and yawn
2 Now swallow. Yawning lowers the AA (our reference for laryngeal movement), while swallowing raises the larynx.
3 Yawn again
4 Stop yawning and relax, but hold the AA down.
5 While holding the AA down, blow air as in playing a note but without the saxophone
6 Try with the MPC, often this results in a lowered pitch, as much as a major or minor third.

From: "From the inside out"
 

Similar threads (maybe)

Popular Discussions

Top Bottom