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are longtones the only answer to a good tone production, that is if you have a good mouthpiece already? i notice that some of my palm key notes are a bitch to bend upward on and always come out kind of sharp and i know longtones are the answer but are they the only answer?
 

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The upper register often sounds weak because there is a natural tendency to tense up when producing those notes, especially the palm key notes D and E. Playing with a clear sound in the upper register is something I have been working on diligently for the past few weeks. While tensing up a bad habit, getting out of it is not impossible. It just takes close attention to the kind of air you are pushing through the instrument. Relax. Run a scale slowly from the lowest register up to the highest (disregarding altissimo) register and try to sustain the same type of airflow throughout, avoiding the use of your upper chest to get the air out. The goal is to produce the same quality of sound throughout the range of the instrument, and when you use your diaphragm for the air, the air is much warmer.

Long tones are long tones. I spent the first two years or so in my jazz studies working on ballads left and right. I was not much for "long tones" per se, but playing ballads was and is a great way to not only be mindful of your sound, it also allows you to become more familiar with playing ballads. Because the notes tend to sustain more than in a medium or uptempo tune, your tone is more exposed. Thus, it serves as an opportunity to work with your sound.

However, when you practice long tones, keep in mind that most of the time you are not playing long tones when improvising, so a note that may be in tune when held may slip sharp or flat when you are not thinking about it. Long tones are very important, but they are what they are. To put it into a more realistic situation, play an idea and hold the last note of the phrase and check the intonation and the quality of the tone. If it is fine, try another idea, hold, and check.

Those are just a couple of ways that I work on intonation and tone.
 

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Ok. With me, my upper register is really sharp. It's just the way my crappy sax is built. Anyways, I fixed that by using modified fingerings. For E, F, and F#, I leave the Eb palm key closed, and that results in great intonation. You just need to keep it in mind that Eb still is sharp, so compensate with it with your jaw, or just tryout other fingerings.

As for the problems with bending and weakness, they could be attributed to leaks. That is assuming you have good embouchure and support.
 

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Danrosesax, keep doing the long tones on the upper register. Working on the altissimo also helps the upper register. Use a tuner, practice playing the long tones in the upper register softly: ppp. Then practice doing dynamics. The upper register is tough, its like talking in falsetto.
 

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BlueNote said:
The upper register often sounds weak because there is a natural tendency to tense up when producing those notes, especially the palm key notes D and E. Playing with a clear sound in the upper register is something I have been working on diligently for the past few weeks. While tensing up a bad habit, getting out of it is not impossible. It just takes close attention to the kind of air you are pushing through the instrument. Relax. Run a scale slowly from the lowest register up to the highest (disregarding altissimo) register and try to sustain the same type of airflow throughout, avoiding the use of your upper chest to get the air out. The goal is to produce the same quality of sound throughout the range of the instrument, and when you use your diaphragm for the air, the air is much warmer.

Long tones are long tones. I spent the first two years or so in my jazz studies working on ballads left and right. I was not much for "long tones" per se, but playing ballads was and is a great way to not only be mindful of your sound, it also allows you to become more familiar with playing ballads. Because the notes tend to sustain more than in a medium or uptempo tune, your tone is more exposed. Thus, it serves as an opportunity to work with your sound.

However, when you practice long tones, keep in mind that most of the time you are not playing long tones when improvising, so a note that may be in tune when held may slip sharp or flat when you are not thinking about it. Long tones are very important, but they are what they are. To put it into a more realistic situation, play an idea and hold the last note of the phrase and check the intonation and the quality of the tone. If it is fine, try another idea, hold, and check.

Those are just a couple of ways that I work on intonation and tone.
So true! I remember Maynard Ferguson, (the screaming trumpet player for you "yutes"), saying he never practiced long tones, but spent a lot of time on ballads. I've also heard that Ernie Watts checks his tuning the same way, by playing and randomly stopping and checking his intonation, (with his tuner which is constantly on).
And like everything else, tuning is different in performance than it is at home. For example, I've been doing lots of guitar/sax duets at restaurants for the last year and there's been tuning issues. I've had to learn to compensate for the tuning differences between the guitar and the sax, which is so much more pronounced without the usual accompanying drums, bass, keys, trumpet, etc. My point is that you have to be flexible with your tuning depending upon the ensemble; practicing at home can make tuning seem absolute----maybe in a perfect world----but it's not.
 
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