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Hi,

So, I was playing through Dave Brubeck's 'Take Five' (an arrangement by Paul Desmond) which I plan to perform soon. I've only just realised that I've been playing the semitone grace notes at the start of the solo as bends, as opposed to actually changing my fingering. This makes the transition between notes a lot smoother (something inherent to Take Five), especially with the old pads that I have on my sax.

I am playing the correct note that is supposed to be played, however I am changing my embouchure to create the note as opposed to my fingerings.

Just wondering, does anyone see a major problem in this? The dictionary defines a grace note as 'an extra note added as an embellishment and not essential to the harmony or melody', by which I'm not doing anything wrong, per se.

I have to produce technical work that goes with the performance, and I currently have an exercise on bending. Should I remove it?
 

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I am no music theory expert but I would say that if you are bending the note into that which should be played then you are doing as the Grace note intended, I think that with respect to the sax, a lot of Grace notes are added when the intent or original was to lip into the note from a flattened or sharpened state as the period of the Grace note is small the fact that you may not have actually hit the intended grace note with the correct intonation is irrelevant. When it comes to trying to annotate this as a musical score the limited option to the arranger is to add the Grace note. You as the musician can determine through your musicality how you wish to interpret that note either by bending or playing the written note.
Further to this as bending notes is more an advanced technique those yet to develop the chops and or ability can still add the intended effect by playing the grace note as written, and for what its worth how a keyboard would have to play it.
So in summary for my 2p it is entirely up to you to play it how you feel it should be played.

Kenny
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, you bring up some really good points.

I do feel like it should be played with the bend as it can be a lot smoother and clearer when bending, as per recordings of the piece. I think you're definitely right about it more being up to how you yourself want to portray it, so I'm going to continue to do it the way that I'm doing it (at least until one of my music teachers says otherwise!)
I think I'll leave the bending exercise in my technical work as well, but I'll write a short explanation justifying it.

Thanks again!
 

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I've only just realised that I've been playing the semitone grace notes at the start of the solo as bends, as opposed to actually changing my fingering. This makes the transition between notes a lot smoother (something inherent to Take Five), especially with the old pads that I have on my sax.
As a general rule, do what sounds best to you. However, to my ear a grace note and a bend are two different sounds. Yes, the difference is slight, but even slight differences in musical expression can be significant.

Beyond that, I'd definitely get those old pads replaced if they are leaking or causing a problem playing grace notes!!!
 

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As a general rule, do what sounds best to you. However, to my ear a grace note and a bend are two different sounds. Yes, the difference is slight, but even slight differences in musical expression can be significant.

Beyond that, I'd definitely get those old pads replaced if they are leaking or causing a problem playing grace notes!!!
JL just a quick question how would you annotate a bend as opposed to a grace note. I agree that they sound different, I have seen Bend written over longer notes where the bend is intended to be longer and smoother but crushed at the beginning? also modern writing techniques where a keyboard writes directly to software annotated music will by nature write it as a grace note. I tend to try the grace note first and if I don't like it I bend it after all it is only additional embellishment.
 

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JL just a quick question how would you annotate a bend as opposed to a grace note. I agree that they sound different, I have seen Bend written over longer notes where the bend is intended to be longer and smoother but crushed at the beginning? also modern writing techniques where a keyboard writes directly to software annotated music will by nature write it as a grace note. I tend to try the grace note first and if I don't like it I bend it after all it is only additional embellishment.
I don't know what you mean by 'crushed' at the beginning. I think a bend would be notated with some sort of curved line, but can't say for sure. I can read music, but I prefer to play everything by ear, so I'm not the best person to ask about the finer points of notation.

My only point is a bend is not the same thing as a grace note. Though similar, they are two different sound effects. So you have to decide which sound you want, or in the case of written music, which one the composer wants.
 

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A bend is a type of glissando, a smooth transition between notes notated by using a curved line into the primary note.
Traditionally a grace note is a quick embellishment played either before or "crushed" on the beat before the primary note, it's notated as a slurr and played that way.
A series of grace notes can be a "rip" (still a type of gliss) where they are played very fast in sequence leading to the primary note.
Sometimes a squigley line starting before/below and connecting with the primary note is used to indicate the motion but not the exact pitches.
It gets tricky if a rip turns into a smooth gliss like the clarinet intro to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue".
I haven't looked at that piece in a long time so I don't remember how it's written.
 

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If you're careful, you can make a grace note sound like a bend. It's difficult to make a bend sound like a grace note.
 
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