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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a beginner of 8 weeks and I have decided to work on my tone. I chose amazing Grace for it's long notes to focus on my tonal quality and intonation. Despite my best efforts to weave through the song by pushing forward and holding back, my sound is very monotone and lacks any texture. My partner likened me to a pair of bagpipes... I'm definitely in tune but I'm really struggling to make my sound less one dimensional. I wonder what it is that I'm missing or what I need to work on?
 

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The problem is you have only been playing eight weeks. Keep at it and the tone will come. I鈥檓 still working at after too many years to count. Some days I like what I hear. Other days I suck.

If you want to experiment try a few different brands of reeds. Each brand has its own characteristics.
 

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A breakdown of each note we play can be summed up in terms of: PITCH - INTENSITY - TONE - STYLE

These are the only "dimensions" I am familiar with.

- Pitch refers to intonation or matching the pitch of the underlying harmony or other voices. The pitch is controlled by the embouchure and air pressure.
- Intensity often has to do with volume, loudness or dynamics. On the saxophone as on other "wind instruments" the amount of air determines the dynamics. Melodies have contours and often get louder and they go up (crescendo) and get softer as they go down (diminuendo).
- Tone can have a broad meaning depending upon the style and type of music. A tone that is firm but not pinched or flabby, and is not spread but focused fits the tune Amazing Grace IMO. The tone can be "embellished" with a vibrato.
- Style is for the most part determined by the articulation. Are the notes connected or detached. Are they started with an accent or a legato style of tonguing. Whatever the chosen style, it should fit the song and be consistent.

I am far from being a "professional player" but this is a recording I made of Amazing Grace on a tarogato that gives an example of the elements outlined above.

https://soundcloud.com/jbtsax%2Famazing-grace-2
 

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In some dominions, being compared to bagpipes is a complement.

Anyway, Jay Metcalf's* course on pentatonic foundations leads up to playing AG by ear. Also he has a course on solid warmup exercises including long tones. Probably worth a few 拢$楼鈧 if you don't have a teacher handy.

* Full disclaimer, nothing to claim. I have no relationship to Jay other then looking at utubez etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you for all the feedback thus far. Nothing against bagpipes at all but I guess as a new starter I get frustrated that the iconic 'saxy sound' is nowhere to be seen yet. I manage to get snippets of it while attempting pink panther but at my stage, playing something like that becomes a test of function rather than form.
 

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As mentioned before, 8 weeks is very very early in your saxophone playing journey - the first of a thousand steps (or more!).

Your embouchure and air control is still developing.

I'm assuming you have or have had an instructor to guide you in this early phase. Resist the urge to chase mouthpieces (at least for now).
 

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Thank you for all the feedback thus far. Nothing against bagpipes at all but I guess as a new starter I get frustrated that the iconic 'saxy sound' is nowhere to be seen yet. I manage to get snippets of it while attempting pink panther but at my stage, playing something like that becomes a test of function rather than form.
You're not alone. I'm in the same experience level and still hoping to hear my saxophone sound like a saxophone. It's annoying and irritating, but I am told it will come. The naive, uneducated person in me expected the instrument to behave like pressing a single key on a piano. If Oscar Peterson and I both hit that same single key, it should sound the same. Not so, imagine that.

We're comparing ourselves to people who have been playing for decades and, as we know, comparison is the thief of joy. It's nice to have a goal though. It's also a tough time to be starting out too, as-in person instruction is harder to get than ever for me.

Anyway, just wanted to piggyback on your post. Thanks for sharing, I feel a little bit better.
 

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Tenor, alto, Bb Clarinet, Flute
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Thank you for all the feedback thus far. Nothing against bagpipes at all but I guess as a new starter I get frustrated that the iconic 'saxy sound' is nowhere to be seen yet. I manage to get snippets of it while attempting pink panther but at my stage, playing something like that becomes a test of

You're not alone. I'm in the same experience level and still hoping to hear my saxophone sound like a saxophone. It's annoying and irritating, but I am told it will come. The naive, uneducated person in me expected the instrument to behave like pressing a single key on a piano. If Oscar Peterson and I both hit that same single key, it should sound the same. Not so, imagine that.

We're comparing ourselves to people who have been playing for decades and, as we know, comparison is the thief of joy. It's nice to have a goal though. It's also a tough time to be starting out too, as-in person instruction is harder to get than ever for me.

Anyway, just wanted to piggyback on your post. Thanks for sharing, I feel a little bit better.
Well said. Good post.
 
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