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I know we've discussed this before, but i wanted to ask again; any tips for 'growling on demand' on tenor?

I've watched all the youtube videos & carefully read tips shared here over the years & still can't growl; trying humming & playing at same time.

Did any of you who can get a good growl/buzzy sound going have any "aha" moments, or tips to share?

I'm going to try a softer 2.0 reed today (normally i use & love vandoren 2.5 java greens w/my otto link metal mp/yts62 purple logo tenor)

Johnny Ferreira has a great video on the topic; I'm a big fan of his teaching:

 

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I think it's one of those things where you just have to keep on trying it until you get it. When I was learning to growl, I'd practice it every day as I was warming up. I find that I have to take a fairly deep breath in order to sustain the humming sound as I exhale. Also, too much hum and it won't work, too little and it won't work. You need to keep practicing until you find the sweet spot.

One exercise is to set your metronome at a moderately slow speed (~60 BPM) and play whole notes, alternating between your normal clean tone and growl for four beats each.
 

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+1 thx! I'll try that; smart idea to alternate; like when practicing volume piano/p vs mf notes for dynamics; makes sense ... good to know re deep breath; I'm middle aged living in colorado mountains 6k ft above sea level so limited O2 could be part of it; deep breath should help
 

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Growling is a bit different than humming because when growling you are blowing an airstream at the same time. If one starts to hum and then blows air through the lips, the hum stops. Therefore in my experience, the best way to learn to play with a growl is to make a "VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV" sound humming and blowing at the same time. Then do that into the instrument and viola, you are growler. :)
 

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I didn't watch your video, so I might not be telling you anything new, but try this. Without blowing, just talk into your horn. Now change that to Frankenstein like moans, fairly loud. That's the humming sound you want. Now play normally and try to add in that same moaning. I find the hardest part is fighting to urge to match your voice to the pitch you're playing. It has to be some random, different pitch to get the growling effect. That's why the Frankenstein moan works for me. My inspiration is "Puttin' On the Ritz" from Young Frankenstein.

Also realize you're not trying to make a growling sound with your voice, just a normal moaning kind of sound. And don't be afraid to moan loudly as that's the only way to both vocalize and get enough air flow to play at the same time.

I have no problem doing it. But it must be tricky because only about a quarter of my sax player friends can do it.

EDIT: I finally watched the video. His technique is different than mine in that he actually growls with his voice. I can't sustain that for very long and don't think it's necessary. But I can do the humming I described indefinitely and get the same effect, even more pronounced than vocal growling. The dissonance from singing and playing different pitches is enough to create a growling sound without you having to hurt your voice making an actual growl.
 

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For me growling starts low in the throat, by the Adams Apple. Kinda a grh sound, raspy. I don't use it often, but if I play a 50's R&R gig, I can end up with a sore throat.

Just have to keep fiddling with it, once you get it you,'ll find it easy (like alot of things. Lol)
 

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Growling is a bit different than humming because when growling you are blowing an airstream at the same time. If one starts to hum and then blows air through the lips, the hum stops. Therefore in my experience, the best way to learn to play with a growl is to make a "VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV" sound humming and blowing at the same time. Then do that into the instrument and viola, you are growler. :)
This is the best advice I have ever seen on this subject. I have struggled with this for a long time and do it with limited success. Instant improvement with concentrating on the V. Thanks saxoclese!
 

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He means without the e sound, like you're continuously saying the beginning of the name of the letter V.

I don't think reeds have much to do with it. The key is being able to make a vocal sound while blowing hard enough to get the sax to make a sound. I do it with a very open mouthpiece (120) and harder reeds and a lot of air.
 

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Did any of you who can get a good growl/buzzy sound going have any "aha" moments, or tips to share?
Try this. Play a C triad up and down a few times. Now hum the rhythm a few times but don't worry about what note(s) you're humming. Go back to the sax and play the triad up and down a few times and then gently add the humming you just practised.

I guess the biggest tip is to not to try to hum the actual notes, just hum the rhythm.

I'm going to try a softer 2.0 reed today
My experience of learning to growl was that my emboucher tensed up while I got the hang of the technique, so going softer probably won't help. It certainly has nothing to do with the technique of growling.
 

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My problem with growling is running out of air. Plus, a lot of gigs that would use a lot of growling have what seems like an army of guitar players you're trying to play over.
 

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My advice on growling is to take a break for a couple minutes, and hopefully the urge to growl passes.
 

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Try humming while you whistle. Starting with making the hum first, then bring the lips into a whistle pucker and add it. It makes a cool space ship kind of sound if you lower the pitch of the hum while keeping the pitch of the whistle the same. Learning to do the two different things at the same time makes humming while playing the sax pretty easy.
 

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When I learned to growl I hurt my throat a little bit. Not a lot but certainly enough to notice. Because I was doing it wrong.

The key is playing a long note and then adding in the hum. It's a hum. If you aren't getting a growl sound by humming while playing then something is wrong.

The note you hum dictates how many notches there are in the growl relative to the note you are playing. The further away from the note you hum the more notches you will get. As you hum closer to the note you will get less notches and if you hum the same note you are playing the growl will (should) disappear completely.
 

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Try humming while you whistle. Starting with making the hum first, then bring the lips into a whistle pucker and add it. It makes a cool space ship kind of sound if you lower the pitch of the hum while keeping the pitch of the whistle the same. Learning to do the two different things at the same time makes humming while playing the sax pretty easy.
Well thats a pretty useful tip too. Thanks.
 

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I find that the degree of growl can depend on what you are humming....humming a half step makes a different sound than simply humming. You can also try to do a glottal roll...ilke German's roll their R's....same effect. That's how I started doing growls first, and you can make them pretty nasty!
 

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I know we've discussed this before, but i wanted to ask again; any tips for 'growling on demand' on tenor
Have you tried using "just" the m/p (with reed) for a while then attaching the neck and practicing it without the sax attached? This might help since it takes some coordination of the airstream and humming. Some people run out of air trying it on the entire sax. Just a suggestion.

I have found over the years that learning it on just the m/p then working on the m/p and neck seems to make it easier for some players. Same applies to the "flutter tongue".
 

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Discussion Starter #20
hey John, thx - good idea; I'll try it. tried 3 different #2 reeds and can confirm that doesnt help a bit; i thought a softer reed may make growling easier...doesn't. made a minor brief growl yesterday by kind of clearing throat type feeling while playing; couldn't sustain it ... i guess a lot of practice will help ... i'll try the mp/neck only; smart tip
 
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