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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Not sure if this warrants a thread...but here goes some rambling.

I've been asked to play in a show - to play the entire Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers album. First rehearsal is next week, not sure how far ahead the rest of the band is in practicing.

Now I don't need to play transcriptions of the solos but I'd like to keep a couple of the parts of the solos to give the listeners some recognition.

Only troubles are: I've never played 'growling' (always clean) and there are some G and A harmonics in there (I can hit the G reasonably well but A seems to give me more grief, and going from A down to G has a very low success rate for me :-S

The obvious thing for the harmonics is to omit those parts for now (and practice for later)

I've been trying to do a little bit of growling practice (of the sax kind) - I get the concept but (a) I'm finding it difficult to pick a note difference to sing in that I can do over a wide range (I think down the octave then up a third is the best difference so I'm not trying to tear my throat out while growling on palm f and harmonic G), and (b) there's quite a lot of my voice that can still be heard through it - when I recorded myself from a couple of feet from an SM57 mic.

Any advice, or should I panic (I'm already feeling a little stressed :S) I think I can play something interesting enough (maybe not to Bobby Keys standards) but it won't sound the part if I play it clean I don't think?

Cheers,

Dave
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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I hate growling myself. Makes my throat sore. Can't imagine doing it for long periods.
 

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Could you cheat and use technology? An octave pedal, or a distortion pedal, perhaps? I'm assuming that you'll be mic'ed.

Could you make it a bit dirtier by ridiculous overblowing? I'm assuming it'll be loud anyway.

Could you get a really soft reed, or a plastic reed, to give some more edge to your sound, for that gig?

I'm not sure when the gig is, but it sounds like you're pressed for time. I think the most important thing will be to find ideas that help you to feel comfortable and get into it. If you're feeling good that will come across much more than whether or not you're growling!
 

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Practice humming while blowing into your fist, that shouldnt make your throat sore
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I do a lot of growling, it's been a big part of what I have been paid to do.

I find it unhelpful to try to pitch certain intervals, it's a kind of trial and error process, but I have outlined a method here:

Growling on the saxophone

It's also worth trying to fluttertongue. Some people can do it very quickly and find it easier than growling, others (like me) find the opposite.

presumably you are quite experienced in other aspects of playing, if not there is my R & R Saxophone for beginners, plus a lot of stuff on the SOTW rock pages.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the ideas!

I'm not sure what the mic situation will be as of yet.

The loudest/edgiest mouthpiece in my collection of cheap mouthpieces is a metalite M9, and I do have some plasticover 3 reeds - that should make it fairly cutting (more so than my regular V16 T9 and jazz selects!)
Maybe as you say, overblowing might just get me there until I can reliably bring growling on board. I know my face will be scary enough when I overblow!

Pete,

I did come across your article a little while ago - I'll try to think less about intervals, more about any old note but I'm not sure my thick head will get it wired in time :S Do any types of attacking the notes (tonguing or air, soft or hard attacks) help at all with the process?

Ah yes, the fluttertongue...that I know how to do, but haven't tried doing it for more than a little accentuation here or there. I do notice that Bobby Keys does fluttertongue in part of one of the songs on that album, I'll definitely practice fluttertonguing some longer phrases before next Monday!

Regarding experience, I play a fair bit of blues (jams etc) so I can bend notes fairly well and hopefully some of that will go down well. My fingers don't move all that fast (because I lack discipline) but having heard the album I'm to play on, I think the sound is going to be my main problem :S

Cheers,

Dave
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Do any types of attacking the notes (tonguing or air, soft or hard attacks) help at all with the process?
Not specifically.

I was in the same boat many years ago, just after leaving college (and expecting to become a professional jazz musician (ha!), I got a theatre job in a 50s rock and roll stage show. I had a modele 22 tenor and Otto Link 7, but it was fine.

What I think would be really useful is (as you are probably doing) listen to a lot of Bobby Keys and play along. For general R & R sound and approach I love Lee Allen (who played with the Stones as well on a couple of tours), see (and hear):

http://tamingthesaxophone.com/solos-lee-allen-walking.html

http://tamingthesaxophone.com/solos-lee-allen-slipping.html
 

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SOTW Columnist/ Forum Contributor 2014, Disti
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Dave, in addition to Pete's excellent information, here is some more that might be of some help and you may have already read it;

I have used the “hum” technique to produce the growl since 1956. Both the growl and the “flutter tongue” were very popular techniques used by sax players in Rock & Roll and R&B music which was hitting the airwaves in the late 50s. Those of us who joined the local school band and liked the new music were asking the band director what this new “gritty or raspy” sound was that we were hearing on the Top 40 hits featuring Lee Allen and Grady Gaines on tenor and Earl Bostic on alto. This effect was used before the 50s and is still very popular in many forms of music. The 1985 hit Rockin' at Midnight by The Honeydrippers features Keith Evans using a lot of this technique in his tenor solo.


There are other ways to achieve the growl effect from what I have read on the NET over the years but I have only used the method of humming while playing a note to get the growl tone.

I suggest that the best way to learn this technique is to start with the mouthpiece attached to the neck. If you use the entire horn it can be a problem at first due to the coordination involved. Play a note on the neck then start “humming” a note that is higher or lower than the pitch that is coming out of the neck. Some players hum in a falsetto range to get above the note that is produced by the neckpiece. Some players will sing/hum a lower note. For example, when I play a G above the staff on tenor I find that I usually hum the pitch that is close to D below the G. If you hum the same pitch that is coming out of the neckpiece or sax the effect will be cancelled.

At first you may feel that it is taking a lot of air to play and hum at the same time on the neckpiece. This is natural because you will probably open your throat and exhale too much air as a result of your efforts to hum and exhale at the same time. Easier said than done at first! In time you will learn to control the amount of hum and the coordination will become natural. Now put the horn together and see what happens.

Many of us use the growl in the middle and high range, especially from high A above the staff to high F#. I have found that the most effective area for the growl is starting on 2nd space A of the staff and upward. Once you go below 2nd line G it becomes somewhat garbled.

I have read articles that suggest that you hum a 3rd above the note being produced on the horn. However, while on stage during a rockin’ performance I can’t hear the note that I am humming due to the stage volume. I have never thought about the “3rd above” concept so I can’t comment on it however if it works for you that is all that matters. I hum in a range that is usually below the notes being played which works for me.

As you practice this effect ask for more advice from other local sax players and review articles on the internet. This is valuable because there is always more than one way to approach any effect.

Several examples. Cut and paste on YouTube;

LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL—SHIRLEY AND LEE—LEE ALLEN—TENOR

SLIPPIN’ AND SLIDIN’—LITTLE RICHARD—LEE ALLEN—TENOR

KEEP A KNOCKIN’—LITTLE RICHARD—GRADY GAINES—TENOR

SUPER FREAK—RICK JAMES—DANIEL LE’MELLE—TENOR

UNCHAIN MY HEART—JOE COCKER—CLARENCE CLEMONS—TENOR

THE HEAT IS ON—GLEN FREY—DAVID WOODFORD—TENOR

ROCKIN’ AT MIDNIGHT—HONEYDRIPPERS—KEITH EVANS—TENOR

HARDEN MY HEART—QUARTERFLASH—RINDY ROSS—ALTO

FREEWAY OF LOVE—ARETHA FRANKLIN—CLARENCE CLEMONS—TENOR

Other links for the growl;

http://www.petethomas.co.uk/saxophone-growl.html

http://www.wirelessdatasys.com/dea/music/growling.htm

http://www.bobrk.com/saxfaq/2.7.html

http://www.halleonard.com/item_deta...r=search&type=product&keywords=john+laughter+

http://www.geocities.com/sax411/sax/technique/growling.html

Send an email if you still find it difficult. [email protected]
 

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Dave, let me mention one more thing at the risk of being criticized. I do not know where the idea of what note to hum came from but I have a feeling that it can cause issues for some players.

We do know that if you hum the same pitch that is being played it will cancel the effect.

When I learned the technique my teacher in 57 he said to hum a pitch other than what you are playing. No one ever said a 3rd above or a 5th below and so on. And I do not know how someone would track every note of the solo by humming a 3rd above the pitch during a hard driving rock solo.

My hum is always above the range of notes being played (falsetto range) and I do not think about the pitch. Fortunately it is apparently never the same as the note being played so it never cancels.

At any rate, try to think in terms of the resulting sound rather than what note to hum as long as it is not the same pitch that you are playing : )
 

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The best rock saxophone player that ever was, Brecker, never growled. The growling and flutter tonguing sound like amateur ****.
I play occasionally in a rock/blues band and I just play me.
Or, you could forget everything you know about the saxophone and play like Booby Keys or Clarence Clemmons. Personally, I think that stuff is just plain ugly.
 

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Flutter tongue is much easier for me too. Otherwise just play the way you play, just play in the upper register!
 

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"play like Booby Keys or Clarence Clemmons. Personally, I think that stuff is just plain ugly. " as per whaler above.
There is probably something to be said for stylization. As jazz players we want to know all about the historical development of jazz, and for good reasons. IMHO these same good reasons apply to rock n roll playing....maybe even more so, as rock sax has a very stylized tradition. Growling is one of the major features of that tradition. It may be true (Idont know) that Brecker never growled. It is also debatable whether he was the greatest rock sax player. I don't share that opinion as I never thought of him as a "rock" sax player, especially in the "pop" sense of the word. I do however agree with waler that this sound can be just plain ugly....that is what makes rock music what it is. That is why Guitarists use distortion unstead of the pure sound for rock music. I use the flutter effect occasionally, usually only when doing "record copy" solos such as The Wanderer or Tequila. I growl continuously in a rock situation though and have had a pretty successful time of it in my small pond. I have based all of my rock playing on a quote from one of my teachers. He was actually a well established classical oboe played who graduated from Peabody. He doubled on sax in dance bands. Here is his quote as pertains to rock sax..." The more obnoxious you sound, the more the crowd loves it." I have found this to be true at every rock gig I have played.
For what it is worth, I also do not try to hum a particular interval. I hum in a flexible manner and fine tune the interval to what seems to give me the most obnoxious sound for any given pitch......and the crowd truely does love it.
 

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Forget about the growling...doesn't matter.
Wear really tight pants and a hideous shirt, better yet just a vest and move around the stage allot and if you really want to go the part put a sock in your pants...it's only rock and roll!
 

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The best rock saxophone player that ever was, Brecker, never growled. The growling and flutter tonguing sound like amateur ****.
I play occasionally in a rock/blues band and I just play me.
Or, you could forget everything you know about the saxophone and play like Booby Keys or Clarence Clemmons. Personally, I think that stuff is just plain ugly.
Maybe you're not the best match for this gig...
 

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This is good advice I once received from an old rock and roll sax player:

"First things first. If you're a white guy you'll need a stupid hat, the more stupid the better and preferably a beret. Sunglasses are optional, but all the really good players wear them, especially indoors. You'll also need some "gig shirts" -- Hawaiians are good, in a pinch anything with a loud floral pattern is acceptable, as are T shirts from various clubs and festivals. The good thing about the latter is that you can get them mail order, so you don't have to go to all the trouble of actually seeing live music. And cowboy boots are an absolute must, even in summer.

Once you've assembled the proper attire you can begin practicing. One of the most important things about playing is being able to convey emotion to the audience. This you do through various facial expressions. The two emotions you'll need to convey are:
(1) rapture/slash ecstasy
(2) soul wrenching pain and sadness (i.e., the blues).
You may find it useful in the beginning to borrow a page from the method acting school. So, for example, to convey rapture try thinking of something nice, like puppy dogs or being fed Armor hot dogs with truffle sauce. To convey the "blues" try thinking of something really appalling, like ulcerative colitis or Justin Bieber. You should practice your facial expressions in front of a mirror at least two hours per day. You may feel a tad stupid at first, but you'll never get the chicks if you don't jump around on stage like a monkey with your face all screwed up like there's a rabid wolverine in your colon, believe you me. And bottom line, chicks is really what music's all about."
 

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I use the growl a lot since I mostly play old school blues when I play out. It doesn't really seem to make much of a difference what note you hum. Keep doing it and it will come naturally pretty quickly. What's hard for me these days is not growling....
 

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I've never thought about what pitch I hum when I growl, I just hum... or these days it's more of a palate grind, works for me. Plasticover 3, and balls to the wall. You're gonna have to cop some of the recognizable licks, just part of the job.
 

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Your thread title implied you have not played sax in a rock and roll band before. lf so, remember that on most rock and roll songs, the listeners (including your bandmates) don't really want to hear a sax very often, or for very long. Most rock and roll songs do not have a horn part featured throughout. As an example (one not on Sticky Fingers), do you love that tenor sax solo on "Miss You"? Ever notice how short it is, and how you never hear the sax again on that song?

You will know you are doing it right if your bandmates tell you how much they liked your sax solo, and how they would like you to play more. Just remember not to actually make your solos longer if they say this.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Forget about the growling...doesn't matter.
Wear really tight pants and a hideous shirt, better yet just a vest and move around the stage allot and if you really want to go the part put a sock in your pants...it's only rock and roll!
+2!
 
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