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i have been playing a lot of tenor lately and listening to some amazing tenor players. i have noticed that a lot of them use a very soft airy tone on their low notes particularly on slower ballad like songs. i think these are called subtones or something. i have been trying to get that sound but usualy the ?low note either doesnt speak or comes out very loud. how do i get the soft airy tone
 

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Two general things... it helps to have a horn in good adjustment with no leaks. Very hard to play low and soft with leaks.

Also, I think a lot of players take in less mouthpiece when playing subtone. Try, letting the mouthpiece slide out a little which will put a little more of the fat part of the lip on the reed....
 

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Pete Thomas has something to say about it.
 

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One point to add to Shawn and Pete's comments - I find that you don't have to necessarily pull the whole mouthpiece out, you can just pull your jaw back a hair so your lower lip is further "in" from the break on the mouthpiece. This essentially allows your lower lip to purposely "dampen" the vibration of the reed. Many players will also talk about "dropping the jaw" when subtoning, but really you are just working to apply less pressure on the reed with your lip as you have more leverage at that point on the reed and don't want to make it go sharp and/or drive it up a register. Think of your lower lip as being a "soft cushion" when subtoning vs. a "firm cushion" when playing regularly, with the contact point closer to the tip.

Also note, it's not just about playing softly - you can actually put quite a bit of air through when subtoning if you voice it right - it's really applying the lip technique along with a "hot" airstream.

Hope that helps.
 
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