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Discussion Starter #1
I'm not very familiar with articulation or articulation patterns. When I use to play (12+ years ago) I developed a bad habit of slurring almost everything... I never developed proper articulation. When I started back 6 months ago, I told myself I would not play ANYTHING unless it was articulated. I spent months and months working on this. Today I can articulate every note playing 100BMP 16th notes with ease (Thats how I practice my Maj, Min, Dom, Dim scales every morning) I can also Jazz articulate (Tongue every other note) at about 130ish BMP 16th notes. Any faster than that and I sound choppy. Anyhow, my question is as follows.
When jazz musicians play faster lines 300bmp 8th notes +, are they slurring everything? Or are they still articulating every other note (Jazz articulation)? At what speed would they stop articulating every other note. I'm referring to the greats.
I'm not sure if It's free game to slur everything 300BPM plus, or if I should continue trying to articulate every other note 300bmp + (I could get there, it's going to take some time though) I can actually tongue 120BMP 16th notes for a while (Thats how I practice tonguing in my warm ups. 115 or 120BMP and I play 8 8th notes, followed by 16 16th notes for each note of my horn. Theoretically I should be able to play and articulate every other note at 480bpm 8th notes but sadly that's not happening right now:(

What I don't want is to sound Juvenile by slurring fast passages if they should be jazz articulated when it's time to start gigging etc. I'm just not sure what the norm is for jazz musicians, and how fast they articulate things.

I appreciate your help, thank you!
 

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It's good to be able to play in ever increasing tempo a simple finger pattern like scale. However, the tongue gradually gets used to following the pattern, at which point you will face diminishing returns.

It's pretty much the same with playing faster and faster an articulated jazz piece, where slurred notes come in groups of 2, 3, and more. The tongue gets used to the articulations pretty soon.

The point is to give your tongue a hard time, not make it easy for it. My tongue used to be very lazy. Here's how I've made it versatile and resilient.

I play by heart the 25 intermediate jazz etudes by Lennie Niehaus, in random order, at the beginning of my daily practice. One day I play them with the recommended slurring, as fast as I can, at about 200 bpm. The other day I play them unslurred and broken down into eighths. For example, a 1.5-quarter note will make three eighths of the same pitch. Rests are replaced by groups of eights of the same pitch as the previous note. Take a short rest during a longer group, just when you need to breathe. Notes that are shorter than 1 eighth I play slurred, just as recommended, but there are not many of them. What is coming out of the horn is: ta-ta-ta-to-to-ta-ta-to, groups of notes of the same pitch, originated from a longer note or a rest, each tongued separately, all of them equal length. I can do that at about 140 bpm.

This technique puts a great strain on the tongue, since fingering is way more complex than a scale or arpeggio. It does a wonderful job keeping the tongue well-toned and versatile. As a bonus, you will notice a parallel improvement in original, partially slurred, articulation, just because of these broken-notes sessions. I have been practicing like this for the last 3 years and intend to keep it that way.
 

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OP: I'm in the same boat as you. I played in elementary school and for a couple of years in my 20's. (I"m in my 40s) Now I've been practicing almost daily for hours for the past 3 years (In may it will be 4 years). My teacher has me thinking about articulation big time. I too slurred everything in the omni book, etc. I"m now being more conscious of tonguing and developing lines. Its' too bad the omni book doesn't have atriculation marked. Here is one transcription that has some great articulation markings that I'm working on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgwCddPksEM

Also check out Chad's video where he talks about tonguing the down beats - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE6JRUyJS8g
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you for your replies guys:) those are excellent tips!

I'm still a little confused about my original question though. What seems to be the standard for jazz? How quickly are musicians jazz articulating vs slurring? At what point/what speed is it okay to stop tounguing and just slur passages?

Also, 150-200bpm 8th note lines, I typically tongue each note. Is this standard, or should I drop down to tonguing every other note on those those lines so it sounds a little smoother.

When John Coltrane plays Giant steps. Is he slurring his 8th notes? Or is he articulating every other note - It sounds like he's articulating every other note. Helps point me in the right direction as well:)
 

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I think the right answer here is “follow your style”. I’m not a complete novice, but I have encountered a lot of ‘play along’ jazz books, for example, where there is a CD where the professional is playing along with you. If you just listen and follow the music, you will note that only about 70% of the articulation follow the music ask marked.....but it sounds great.....

If you are using a conductor, they will let you know if there is a problem.
 

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Thank you for your replies guys:) those are excellent tips!

I'm still a little confused about my original question though. What seems to be the standard for jazz? How quickly are musicians jazz articulating vs slurring? At what point/what speed is it okay to stop tounguing and just slur passages?

Also, 150-200bpm 8th note lines, I typically tongue each note. Is this standard, or should I drop down to tonguing every other note on those those lines so it sounds a little smoother.

When John Coltrane plays Giant steps. Is he slurring his 8th notes? Or is he articulating every other note - It sounds like he's articulating every other note. Helps point me in the right direction as well:)
No do not tongue every note. It should be like a TE-ya TE-ya TE-ya sort of articulation for swing 8ths.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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What I don't want is to sound Juvenile by slurring fast passages if they should be jazz articulated when it's time to start gigging etc. I'm just not sure what the norm is for jazz musicians, and how fast they articulate things.

I appreciate your help, thank you!
That's typically how o tongue every other note.
Is that still done 300bpm + for 8th notes?
If you can tongue that fast and make it sound good why not? But I don't see it as necessary, and I can't think why there are any rules about how you should tongue when playing jazz. The only important thing is to make it sound good with a great feel. If you do that with tonguing or with slurring then that's what counts.

I sometimes tongue and sometimes don't.

But if you are playing fast (e.g. 300 as mentioned) and you attempt to tongue (alternate notes) but it sounds stilted or unnatural, then you'd be better off slurring.

People refer to bebop tonguing, ie tonguing the "and" of quavers (8th notes). This is a style that can help you actually keep a solid time feel because your tongue has a tendency to want to be regular, as opposed to your fingers which often don't. Also this style of tonguing can add a small accent that can either help a song feel, or hinder it if it is too obtrusive. I will sometimes do that kind of tonguing, but so lightly nobody can actually tell I'm doing it Inj that case it may be there for timing as opposed to creating any kind of accented or articulated effect. Other times I may do it more heavily and noticeable - if it seems appropriate. And then again, sometimes I tongue every note (slow tempos only!) and sometimes I tongue no notes.

So it's more a case not being what you do, but the way that you do it.
 

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Yes, You can tongue this fast. The key is not stopping the reed. You tongue so light that the tongue just bounces off the reed without stopping it.
I am not able to tongue anywhere near that fast so my hat is off to you Steve and everyone who can do that, but I have never have been able to. Obviously some people can but I would never say it's something you actually have to do as a professional I've never needed to tongue that fast ever. Sometimes I think it would be nice to do, but then I found other priorities.
 

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I am not able to tongue anywhere near that fast so my hat is off to you Steve and everyone who can do that, but I have never have been able to. Obviously some people can but I would never say it's something you actually have to do as a professional I've never needed to tongue that fast ever. Sometimes I think it would be nice to do, but then I found other priorities.
Sorry, I didn't mean to convey that you had to but just that it can be done. I have a pretty normal tongue speed. Nothing special. When I tongue normally and my tongue stops the reed it is pretty unimpressive as far as speed. There is a huge range of views on tonguing out there with professional sax players. George Garzone thought I tongued too much and was always on my case about it. I hear many other players that slur or tongue differently than I do when playing 16th notes also.......
 

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Isn't he an advocate of not using your tongue at all in this context?
Yes, I don't really agree with that. To me, it's like talking without using your tongue. You miss the clarity and definition given to the words without the tongue. I do agree that it can be overused and doesn't sound great when it is but I don't think it should be discarded totally.
 

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If you're going 300+ bpm, IMO slurring most of the notes while tonguing accented/syncopated strong points would be what I'd do. follow the musical line: what needs emphasis?

But again, there is no hard-and-fast rule. Like swing, it's whatever sounds hip and what you can do. Sometimes I am surprised at how "square" Cannonball will tongue a line (but it's so, so hip) and then have to rethink the classic Slur-upbeat-to-downbeat to jazz articulation. There is SO much variance and individuality it can be overwhelming. If anything (and what I've been told) avoid over-tonguing. But then again...maybe not?
 

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Yes, I don't really agree with that. To me, it's like talking without using your tongue. You miss the clarity and definition given to the words without the tongue.
Sometimes maybe not having clarity can be a good thing - kind of abstractness. It also goes back to what I was saying the so-called bebop tonguing can help with solid timing. If you don't need that extra help then again, not really necessary.


I do agree that it can be overused and doesn't sound great when it is but I don't think it should be discarded totally.
Yes exactly


If you're going 300+ bpm, IMO slurring most of the notes while tonguing accented/syncopated strong points would be what I'd do. follow the musical line: what needs emphasis?

But again, there is no hard-and-fast rule.
Good, looks like we are all kind of agreeing on that




Absolutely! Not to say you have to, but it is done very regularly by a lot of people and is very much possible.
But extremely difficult for others, and given that we seem to agree it's not necessary - no big deal.

What I'm getting from all of this that anyone who does think it's necessary (and I'm not sure anyone does think that) could possibly be making the concept of jazz and swing as too prescriptive - which ultimately restricts expression.
 

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What I'm getting from all of this that anyone who does think it's necessary (and I'm not sure anyone does think that) could possibly be making the concept of jazz and swing as too prescriptive - which ultimately restricts expression.
Absolutely agree! It's all about what you're going for. The OP asked what the greats did and what the norm is right now on the gigging jazz scene.
 
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