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Discussion Starter #1
I have been playing the alto for nine months and can get good low notes (below low D) to sound quite nicely - except that recently every time I tongue a low C or lower, it sounds for a split second an octave higher, then falls to the correct note. If it is a short note it hardly has time to sound correctly before I'm moving on. If I am running down the scale with tied notes they sound fine (at least, they are on the correct pitch!).

I have tried to change my embouchure and air supply, and different reeds, but can't cure it.

Any ideas?
 

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If you are getting good sounding low notes within 9 months of playing, you are doing very well. You might try this exercise to increase the control while tonguing the low tones.

At a slow tempo play low C as a whole note (semi breve) then tongue four legato quarter notes (crotchets) and then play another whole note (semi breve) all on the same breath. Concentrate on keeping the throat open, the airstream moving and well supported (pressurized) and the back of the tongue down (as saying "AHH") when you tongue.

When legato tonguing starts to come out well controlled, then do the exercise with regular tonguing, and then staccato.

John
 

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Lodger said:
...except that recently every time I tongue a low C or lower, it sounds for a split second an octave higher, then falls to the correct note.
Are your octave keys (body and/or neck) sticking, and/or taking additional time to close?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks

Thanks for these ideas. I think the problem is there even when I'm not dropping down from the higher octave, but I'll check the keys anyway.
 

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It takes at least 10 years of hard work to master low notes! And I mean on a fine working, in excellent condition sax. That is because you have to relax the larynx, while you still have to be able to move your tongue, that is connected to the larynx, to hit the reed.
Further more, playing octave jumps,require a souplesse of the larynx that is only obtained through a lot of excersize.
High notes, low notes are the most difficult issues on sax. Perhaps you may be able to play them very soon after you have taken up saxophone. But it takes years to make them sound right.

So, be patient and work hard. And see to it that you have a teacher.
 

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For low notes, I was taught to take less reed. This helps to control the vibration of the reed else you get splits and rough tone. You also need lots of good steady air. I learned this from a Joe Allard disciple.

Depending on your musical taste, you may benefit from a different mouthpiece and reed combination. Longer facings favor low notes. A short facing increases the speed of repsonse overall but may cause low notes to break up. Take care that your reed is not too hard.

Good equipment helps, but more important is the way you play. The overtone series exercise promoted by Dave Leibman and others will help you a lot.

Enjoy your playing!
 
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