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Discussion Starter #1
Before I start I wanna say that I have a pretty decent tone, it was good enough to get 2nd chair advance band in 7th grade, 1st chair advance band this year, 2nd chair All-County, and 1st chair in All-County Jazz. But I want to step it up for high school. I was wondering what methods you guys use to improve your tone in the higher notes. Like, C Sharp and up. I always hate getting music that goes that high, because my sound always sounds horrible that high. So how do you guys that have been playing for a bit practice tone?
Thanks for any replies in advance.
 

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Any clip of your playing? Giving you advice without hearing you play will most likely be a shot in the dark.

There are tons of tone exercises and improving your tone will most likely take a lifetime.

IMO, the fastest way to improve your tone is to listen to people you love listening to and try to imitate their sound as best as possible. Start with ballads.
 

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One of the most important things you can do to improve your tone is to have a strong conception in your mind of what you want to sound like. You gain this conception by listening both through recordings and live performances to top notch players. Then, you practice with this image in mind- searching for the right equipment (mouthpiece, reed, instrument, ligature) and embouchure, air-pathway, breath support, etc...that facilitates the production of the sound you visualize. As you search for the sound, over the months and years of hard practice, you look for advice from teachers and mentors, and realize that this part of your saxophone voice may develop for a long time, hopefully throughout your life, since your conception may change over time.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Online Jazz Lessons and Books
New Lesson:
Making Sense of Jazz Improvisation
Lesson Series:
Introduction to the Blues
The Arpeggio Circle
Through the Keys
and more...
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
Rhythm Changes Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrT0Xw_y9d0
Rhythm Changes Lesson:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMOW7QAfpwo
 

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Practice, practice, practice. And when you're done with that, practice some more.

If you have a tuner... Play the problem notes. Adjust your embouchure to get it in tune. Hold the note and REALLY pay attention to how it sounds and feels.
Now, close your eyes and play the note again. Remember how it felt and sounded with your eyes open. Hold the note to be sure you are remembering correctly.
Open your eyes and see if you're in tune. If you are, good for you!
If not, reapeat the process.

Once you can play 'in tune' you can move on to other aspects of tone building. Many can be solved with minor adjustments to your embouchure or changing the hardness/cut of your reed.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'll try to post a video of me playing tomorrow.
As for what I want to sound like, it's really confusing because there are so many good players that I'd like to sound like, It's hard to choose.
 

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If you are in middle school, you are still growing and developing strength, especially core strength. Tone (imho) comes in large part from core strength, which you will naturally develop as you grow and mature. So part of it is just having the patience to grow a bit. But that doesn't mean you can't start developing your core strength right away.

Your core gives you the ability to support your airstream through the horn in a manner that ultimately drives a solid tone over the entire range of the instrument. To develop that core strength play long tones and play them at p or pp volume. The more you work to control a long tone at low volume so that it sounds even and in tune when held for a long duration, the stronger your core and your embouchure will become. And as you move to the higher registers of the instrument, you have to fight the urge to bite down which just chokes off the tone, making it thin sounding. To work on that, play your long tones in front of a tuner like Bandmommy suggests. It really helps.
 

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My personal experience is to play good high you have to play excellent down low. You have to play well in all dynamics down low to play well high. I firmly believe that in order to play quietly well you should be able to play loud well, I know that this isn't what a lot of parents would like to hear from me, but I found that I only started to feel like I was really getting the full sound from my instrument after doing long tones down low as loud as I can. Once you sound really good down low work on harmonics and tone matching to harmonics:

C# to the matching harmonic on C#
D on Bb
Eb on B etc.

Also loosen the embouchure as well! A tight embouchure can only stop the vibrations in the reeds!

I'd also recommend finding excercises dealing with that area to get facility in that area (palm keys are probably my weakest area speed wise). Just playing tunes that deal with that area will help you get that.

Hope that helps!
 

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There has been some excellent advice given in this thread already. I would echo what Randy said about the "concept" of sound you want to achieve. You can practice all day and night, but if you don't have a "target sound" in your head that you are trying to work toward, its kind of like wandering in the dark no knowing where you are or where you are going. How do you get a good concept?

1. Find a good private teacher. This is the best advice anyone can give.

2. If #1 is impossible at the present time, get some music minus one cd's. I recommend at least one classical such as master solos and then any others you like. Make sure they have performance tracks as well as accompaniment tracks so you can hear the professional player's tone and style.

Remember that playing high tones must involve the air stream in a big way. One technique I use with my students is to have them make the pitch on their airstream first and then play the note. For example if you are working on your high C, sound that pitch and then blow that pitch with your air stream like an airy sounding "almost whistle". Then blow your sax with that same airstream. It really works. I call it "playing on your airstream". Doing this takes most of the work away from the embouchure and puts it on the breath support (air pressure) where it belongs.
 

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I firmly believe that in order to play quietly well you should be able to play loud well...
I'm going to disagree...not to try and pick a fight :)argue3:) but more as an opportunity to learn. I could be very wrong in my thoughts but the debate can be helpful for all. I believe the exact opposite; in order to play loud well, you must be able to play quietly well.

Developing tone by approaching it from the loud end of the equation is similar to the bulked up body builder pounding out lots of really heavy weight over a short duration to bulk up. Sure his muscles may be huge, but most body builder's aren't really strong. Take one bowling and he'll pull a muscle rolling a 9 lb kiddie ball. But the guy in the gym who works out with lighter weights and more repetitions will actually be the stronger of the two, and will have much more stamina as well.

And so it goes with developing a good tone. Playing long tones at a lower volume is like the guy in the gym developing lean, dense muscle that is really compact and really strong. You'll be able to turn that strength into playing loud when you need to...really loud. But being able to support an airstream through the horn in all dynamic ranges, p pp and ppp especially, is a critically important concept to get your head around...imho.

Different strokes for different folks!
 

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Anyone can play pp-fff. Support or no support.
If you aren't using your ears while playing throughout the range you're still going to sound bad.
You still have to listen to what is going on while 'lifting those weights'. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for everything.
When "Benbyrne" is talking about harmonics, thats just another word for overtones right?
I'll start to do more longtones, loud and soft.
 

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You still have to listen to what is going on while 'lifting those weights'. :)
I wasn't talking about those dumb bell musicians! Ba Boom Boom Tssshhhh. :mrgreen:
 

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I wasn't talking about those dumb bell musicians! Ba Boom Boom Tssshhhh. :mrgreen:
Hey! I resemble that remark! :)

Tone building and developing your 'own' sound is so complicated. Too many variables to the equation...
 

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Playing at both low and high volumes consistantly require a combination of good controlled breath support and good embouchure .
One thing I would say about high end is resist pinching the reed for tuning - practicing opening your throat and not altering you embouchure .
Long tones and a visualisatiuon / concept of what you'd like to achieve will help too.
 

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It can help to play overtones and hit them without changing your embouchure. This ability to use voicing (and not pinching/biting) to hit the high notes will help your tone everywhere on the horn, and help make the top end less of a problem area for you.

To get a good sound at the top end of the horn will be difficult without keeping the throat open.

All of this is easy to write, and harder to do. I second the earlier recommendations to find the best private teacher you can.
 

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I agree with lots of what has already been mentioned. I would emphasize as much harmonics practice using a relaxed as possible embouchure as you can, voicing the notes is really important, as is playing long notes in the upper register without using the octave key. Singing notes before you play them using different syllables (that work for you) is also important, I have found that using the HOE syllable puts my vocal tract in the correct position throughout the range until I get into altissimo territory, when I have to start making a ING shape and then an EEE shape to get higher still. Keeping everything as relaxed as possible is the way to go, if you can sing it, you will be able to play it, with practice.
 

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Add to all that good advice........ don't be afraid to blow. I've heard this complaint before and it seems that many are afraid to really put some air through the horn when they get to the upper range. It makes for a weak sounding, out of tune noise.
 

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in addition to all this, try bending the pitch of each of the palm key notes as much as possible( using your throat of course) learn where the breaking point is and try to lower it.
 

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this is sort of like a stray horse in a paddock with the other horses in the pen next door... and it will be easier to bring all the other horses in to that paddock so they are now all together... rather than chase that C# round in circles all day.

C# is a tricky one because it is only the air going through the horn as there are no fingers being held down... which would increase the length of the 'saxophone tube'...

think about ways to work on that C# by incorporating it into something else... practising that particular note in relation to other things will 'increase the depth of your sounding of the note'... or... the timbre...

so... C# (hold that note if it is your emphasis)... these all have that 'C#' in them whilst avoiding the palm keys a little bit.

C#major arpeggio C# - F - G# - C#
C#minor arpeggio C# - E - G# - C#
D major 7 chord D - F# - A - C#
Eb dominant chord Eb - G - Bb - Db/C#
E major 6 chord E - G# - B - C#
F augmented triad F - A - C#
F#minor triad F# - A - C#
F# major triad... F# - A# - C#
A major triad A - C# - E
Bb minor triad Bb - Db - F

also... start on the C# and go down chromatically returning to the C# using that as a pivot note... C#-C-C#, C#-B-C#... the link below... you can do that up the octave... and even do that exercise all the way up to top f with the three palm keys and side e key.

http://www.tristanhallmusic.com/tristanwebsite/Educational_files/lownotes.pdf


there is a lot of different ways you can approach one particular note that will bring it back on par with the other notes... every now and again you can clean the hole on the neck with ? an ear bud cleaner thingy incase it is blocked...(my problem at the moment)..
 
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