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Double Tonguing on the Saxophone

by Tim Price
Double tonguing on the saxophone is something that is becoming more and more common practice. A common technique of many flute and brass players, double tonguing is becoming an everyday occurrence in the saxophone world.

You can hear this approach in masters like Al Galladoro, James Moody, Sal Nistico, as well as one of the shining examples of jazz saxophone double tonguing Johnny Griffin.

Of course Rudy Wiedoeft was one of the masters of this technique. In his book "Secret of Staccato" he mentions that he actually tongued everything. He challenges his students to tongue everything up to 208 on the metronome. For each player there is a different point of departure on this technique. Here are some important issues to keep in mind when you practice this.

  1. Practice syllables without the instrument. Say "dah-gah, dah-gah."
  2. The "dah" is on the reed. The "gah" is on the roof of the mouth. Alternate your syllables and match the sound. You must keep in mind these points:
  • A. When you legato, do it with a very connected note.
  • B. Slow to fast tempos daily. Be extreme. Support a fast air stream through your articulation. It's a wise idea to work on these topics for only 5-10 minutes at a time, just for mental peace of mind. Midrange application works best here. Take scale passages and jazz phrases or classical excerpts and apply these techniques bit by bit.
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