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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all! I'm writing this post because I'm on winter break and just wanted a few opinions before I address my professor with my thoughts. So two semesters ago I found out I was biting too hard. I had a mouthpiece pitch of a C instead of the ideal A. So I sorta fixed it by dropping my jaw and giving more air, this previous semester and currently I'm still biting too hard but I'm at an A#. A# is the normal for me. I've tried the same approach I used to make the C go away and make A# the normal. But for some reason it just isn't working in my favor. Every time I play I focus on the position of my jaw and airflow and after just about every phrase I check with just the mouthpiece to see if I'm biting too hard. Its always at the A#. I just wanted to see if anyone a.) knows any exercises to stop biting too hard and b.) how large is the difference of an A# verses the A? I know some jazz saxophonists play at an Ab on purpose so is it really a large area of concern at the moment? I know the intonation tendencies in the range of the horn but does the A# have a significant impact on overall sound? Thank you.
 

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Yes, the input pitch has a big influence on the sound. Best exercise I know to develop control of this is playing various scales and scale exercises on the mouthpiece alone -- until you can control your input pitch over the range of about a 10th you don't have control of the instrument. For biters, practice this with a double embouchure -- you won't bite too much like this because it hurts like hell. The important thing is don't worry about jaw position, air flow, etc. Just do the exercise. Start by slurring up and down until you can do that over more than an octave. Play around with vocal shapes and mouthpiece position. Then work on playing scales and scale patterns and little tunes. Doing it with a double embouchure will make your body figure out how to do it without using too much pressure on the reed.

I disagree that it should be a consistent A, IMO it wants to vary over the range of the instrument. In any case, you need to be able to control it to have control of your sound and intonation. How you do it is way less important than that you are able to do it.
 

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Very, very good reply, Morgan. I guess that it depends on the shape/size of the oral cavity how large an interval you can master.
 

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Watched your vid. My cat freaked out and bolted out of the room, using my head as a springboard off the printer he was sleeping on.

Sending you a bill for bandaids.... :)
 

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It was the 2nd example, where you were talking quietly enough that I had to crank the volume up well past normal to hear you. So, naturally I figured, ok, there's something wrong with the audio and he's burned out his mics the first time through. Better turn it up....
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yes, the input pitch has a big influence on the sound. Best exercise I know to develop control of this is playing various scales and scale exercises on the mouthpiece alone -- until you can control your input pitch over the range of about a 10th you don't have control of the instrument. For biters, practice this with a double embouchure -- you won't bite too much like this because it hurts like hell. The important thing is don't worry about jaw position, air flow, etc. Just do the exercise. Start by slurring up and down until you can do that over more than an octave. Play around with vocal shapes and mouthpiece position. Then work on playing scales and scale patterns and little tunes. Doing it with a double embouchure will make your body figure out how to do it without using too much pressure on the reed.

I disagree that it should be a consistent A, IMO it wants to vary over the range of the instrument. In any case, you need to be able to control it to have control of your sound and intonation. How you do it is way less important than that you are able to do it.
Thank you very much. I actually do double lip and have my entire time playing. My professor tried to get me to single lip last semester which only caused me to bite harder and get a thin and tight sound. So he told me to go back to my double lip because it sounded a lot better. During my practice session today I was biting at an A#, occasionally (Yay!) an A, and an Ab, but I seem to find trouble finding the happy medium of that A. Do you have any tips for the aural cavity shaping? My professor has told me to say "EE-YOW" when it comes to sirens. Do you suppose I should do the same thing to develop this skill? I also have been doing overtones and I can easily get the the first, second and third modes out, from what I'm understanding in your reply is roughly the same idea just for the mouthpiece to develop aural cavity memory? Thanks again for yours and everybody's reply!
 

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It was the 2nd example, where you were talking quietly enough that I had to crank the volume up well past normal to hear you. So, naturally I figured, ok, there's something wrong with the audio and he's burned out his mics the first time through. Better turn it up....
LOL it's the webcam that did it. It automatically turned itself down when it clipped from the first example. Didn't come back up for the talking. I was speaking the same volume for all of it. You all know how loud mouthpieces are compared to a speaking voice, right?
 

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Do you have any tips for the aural cavity shaping?
It's very much like whistling a tune. More tongue shape than oral cavity. Try to play a tune on the mouthpiece. Happy Birthday is a good start.
Good luck.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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LOL it's the webcam that did it. It automatically turned itself down when it clipped from the first example. Didn't come back up for the talking. I was speaking the same volume for all of it. You all know how loud mouthpieces are compared to a speaking voice, right?
Yeah, but while you gave fair warning on the first, you neglected to do so once the gain when down and my volume knob went up.

$0.14 for a band aid and $1.75 for a bottle of Paulaner Hefe Weissen (pain relief). That's $1.89.

Address to send it to is under my avatar.
 

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I hate to see folks obsess over this sort of thing. Mouthpieces are different. Oral cavities vary in size. We all don't blow with the same force of air. There is no one true pitch to come out of each and every players' mouthpiece.

Are you actually having pitch problems with what's coming out of the horn?
 

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Learning to control the pitch of the mouthpiece will benefit timbre even more than pitch most of the time, unless you're horribly out of tune due to biting. I agree that obsessing over some mythical perfect mouthpiece pitch to suit every player and situation is putting the cart before the horse. It's definitely worthwhile to work on control over the mouthpiece pitch and tone.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I hate to see folks obsess over this sort of thing. Mouthpieces are different. Oral cavities vary in size. We all don't blow with the same force of air. There is no one true pitch to come out of each and every players' mouthpiece.

Are you actually having pitch problems with what's coming out of the horn?
I'm not actually having tuning problems, just the normal intonation tendencies each note has. I play with a tuner on my stand and about 85% of the time I'm tune. My low register tends to be in tune or a tad sharp, my middle tends to be flat and my upper in tune or sharp, mostly sharp. I'm only worrying about the mouthpiece pitch because my professor has been hounding me on it. We both play on the same mouthpiece (by chance, he didn't make me buy the one he uses, like some professors have asked me to do) the Vandoren Optimum AL3 and he has been focusing on it and believes that it makes a significant difference in the sound I'm getting. I'm not sure if its my biting or the position of my throat at the moment. He said it was my biting, but I'm starting to think my throat must be a little more open to get the A (alto). He's told me that good embouchure will result in an A mouthpiece pitch and that's the place to start eliminating problems. Do you guys believe it has SUCH a significant impact on tone production if I'm receiving an A# mpc pitch?
 
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