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Discussion Starter #1
This is gonna sound amateurish....

You often see sax players at the shops...trying out horns...and many of them like to play long riffs....runs...improvs....I DON'T KNOW WHATCHA CALL THOSE....

Are they just playing exercises (very fast ) or are there some kind of 'standard' jazz riffs for sax? They sound like chromatic runs .....maybe with a little bebop scales thrown in....long-extended cadenza-like runs...very cool

Anyone here care to share? If you've got PDFs to accompany your description...I'll be very grateful...

I've heard modern players like Kenny G doing lots of these on his (unaccompanied) soprano during his live sessions. ...

I hope I didn't use a 'wrong' example.

Please help....
 

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They could be just improvising with their vast knowledge of scales. Cause the way I'm working on my improvising is learning all my scales, all modes, 3rds, 4th, etc. Pretty much all the scales and in multiple ways. They could just be playing a bunch of patterns in chromatics or certain steps, etc. There's a whole bun of possibilities! But I would assume they're just scales in different patterns and combinations. I used to think those sax players who play super fast licks have certain combinations of licks just in their muscle memory. But once I transcribed more, I began to notice that those fast runs were just scales. Sometimes they'd throw in a chromatic passing tone, or an intervallic jump, or bebop run, etc. I bet its just they have complete control over their scales and how they use it.

^ That's just me though.
 

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If they have any sense (and, sadly, most of them don't) they're doing things like running scales through multiple octaves to get a feel for intonation, tonal evenness, and feel. Sadly, most guys know full well that other people are listening and use it as an excuse to blow through every "hip" lick or line they can play, just to show off. Pay attention to the people listening and you'll be able to pick the pros (they're the guys rolling their eyes and walking away) from the neophytes (the guys that are going glassy eyed).
 

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Go home and practise for ten years, and then you will have the answer
to your question.
 

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Go home and practise for ten years, and then you will have the answer
to your question.
hahahahha.

That's only really funny for me because today when I took my horn out and warmed up before playing someone passing by said "nobody wants to hear how fast and complex you can play".

I had my Ten year saxaversary in September.

Those riffs can be any number of chords in pre set sequences. Maybe tied together with passing tones.

After enough time on your instrument your compendium of phrases and licks becomes vast enough that you can tie them together (sometimes seamlessly).

This is also where people will pigeon hole you into different groups like...."you sound like Brecker or Sonny or Redman or...."
 

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They could be just improvising with their vast knowledge of scales. Cause the way I'm working on my improvising is learning all my scales, all modes, 3rds, 4th, etc. Pretty much all the scales and in multiple ways. They could just be playing a bunch of patterns in chromatics or certain steps, etc. There's a whole bun of possibilities! But I would assume they're just scales in different patterns and combinations. I used to think those sax players who play super fast licks have certain combinations of licks just in their muscle memory. But once I transcribed more, I began to notice that those fast runs were just scales. Sometimes they'd throw in a chromatic passing tone, or an intervallic jump, or bebop run, etc. I bet its just they have complete control over their scales and how they use it.

^ That's just me though.
I have a lot of licks that are not just scales that I can play at pretty high speeds. I can alter my licks very easily. Last time I wrote down all the things I can play in every key by memory I had about 50 licks that range from one to 8 bars. All of these are commited to muscle memory. It goes past the scales and into the language. It's time to transcribe and learn some of these lines you like in every key. Once you have them down you can start to mess with them and make them your own. Check out Steve Neffs Mastering the Bebop Dominant book. It will get you headed in the right direction.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Go home and practise for ten years, and then you will have the answer
to your question.
I've already practiced for 5. I guess I'm halfway there.
 

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I am unsure what to play when I am trying out a sax. I imagine I sound like a neophyte, trying to play fast and impress the folks that might be listening. It is a little stressful being a fish in a fishbowl -- kinda like that soundcheck.

I guess I should start preparing for those type of moments too, but I am too busy practicing the things that matter.
 

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Remember the scene in Wayne's World, in the guitar store? There's a sign that says "Do not play 'Stairway to Heaven'". (I'm probably paraphrasing)

Perhaps sax stores should have a sign saying: "Do not play 'Runs', 'Jazz Riffs', or anything that's too fast".
 

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If they have any sense (and, sadly, most of them don't) they're doing things like running scales through multiple octaves to get a feel for intonation, tonal evenness, and feel.
I find this comment very helpful. I've always wondered what I should do when trying out a horn (whether to buy or just repaired). I'm not good enough to show off anyway.
 

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My routine ... longtones for a few minutes changing timbre to see how responsive instrument is and what it's voice is. Also gets me into gear. 1st harmonic long fingering Db down to Bb and corresponding note fingered on upper stack to see how balanced I can get the timbre. I try to play somewhere where I get some reflected sound.

Root fifth and octave from Long Bb up to octave F or G and slow chromatic scale. After that If I have time I will goof around to get a feel for the action.

I haven't got many years of comparing horns so for me in order to understand what I am dealing with I have to do it slowly and logically. Others will likely be different.
 

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I find this comment very helpful. I've always wondered what I should do when trying out a horn (whether to buy or just repaired). I'm not good enough to show off anyway.
Seriously, when I test and try a horn I will play a short melody (first phrase of Over the Rainbow) I know in all keys. I will play the phrase in successive half steps, but also around the cycle of fourths. It will tell you pretty readily whether there are intonation, timbre, scale issues with the horn. "Mary had a little LAmb" or anything simple works the best because you know what it's supposed to sound like.

But -- It's not flashy! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks guys!
This looks like it's gonna morph into a thread that goes " What Do You Play...When You are Buying a New Horn or Collecting a Repaired Horn".
Maybe I should start another thread for that?

Thanks for your responses! Please keep them coming!
I guess some of us are more self-conscious than others...when we try out a horn...especially in a 'pure' saxophone store...filled with many sax players...esp one where they do NOT have practice/trying-out rooms.
For me...I don't wanna sound too amateurish to others....
I usually play some (slow) scales....and maybe some (slow) chromatic diatonic scale...or maybe some overtones series...

Keep your responses coming...
 

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Not that I make it a habit of A/Bing horns in a store but I have a couple of times and FWIW I usually start off nice and slow. I'm not there to impress anyone else in the store, I'm there to assess the qualities and capabilities of the horn. Start at D1 and go down to Bb1, see how the the horn reacts down low. If it won't play the low notes down there effortlessly, I lose interest pretty quick. Any leaks involving notes above G1, it seems I can usually blow through, if they're not too bad or too many. Then run through various scales slowly but eventually picking up the pace to get a "feel" for intonation, response, and key work.

I like hgiles simple tune in all keys! I'll eventually get to a tune, if the horn works, that I know but not in all keys. That's a great idea.

If it works for you, it doesn't have to be flashy!
 

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If im at a store trying out a horn, I try to give the horn as thorough of a test drive as I can before they take it outta my hands...hehe...but I usually try to play a few scales that scales the entire range of the horn, and then i also try to play a ballad...like Misty...and a fast tune...maybe a Charlie Parker tune...but honestly, I totally zone out and block out any other person who might be watching me because for me, what it comes down to is...am I gonna buy this horn or not? I do also play a few licks that I like to play because to me, that gives me a good feel of whether or not the horn feels good under my hands when i play what i like to play.
 

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if you play fast when you gig then you should when you try a horn out. You need to get a feel for the response as well.

good point
 

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Anything unaccompanied sounds strong if it is played with confidence and a true sense of TIME and RHYTHM (which is not the same). Even if it's played sloppily, a player that can groove only with the horn will always be nice to hear. I, personally am probably no player that will wow you with endless fast runs, but I like them if they are played nicely. However, I do not think they are vital, depending on the style you are striving to play the most.
 

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Remember the scene in Wayne's World, in the guitar store? There's a sign that says "Do not play 'Stairway to Heaven'". (I'm probably paraphrasing)

Perhaps sax stores should have a sign saying: "Do not play 'Runs', 'Jazz Riffs', or anything that's too fast".
No Giant Steps or Countdown? No Brecker diminished licks? No "Smooth jazz" licks,
 
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