Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hope it’s ok to post this here. I’ve never fully mastered playing across the break. I have no problems with the fingering and it doesn’t squeak or honk but the volume and tone is not the same. Also the tone of C# is awful, too raw/open is the best way I can describe it. I practice scales, patterns and phrases that cross the break, but is there anything else I can do? Should I actually be trying to play the C quieter and the D louder? That doesn’t seem feasible, especially not in fast passages.
Cheers
Jazz
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
525 Posts
It's a natural tendency for C#, all open tube, to D, mostly closed tube, to have a big difference in tone. First, try venting the lower stack on C#, i.e., close the F, E and D keys. That'll darken it up some, might affect the pitch a bit. In time you'll learn to compensate with air and embouchure to minimize the difference without venting. Same with upper register, venting C and C# changes tone and maybe pitch.
 

·
Formerly mdavej
Joined
·
1,324 Posts
I think you're already on the right track. I wouldn't get in the habit of opening or closing additional keys. You just need to be able to smooth out the timbre change using the standard fingerings. Crazy fingerings are impractical and unnecessary. As you alluded to, you can take a little edge off the C# and brighten up the D a little with subtle changes in how you blow, opening up your throat and changing the position of your tongue, even playing softer or louder (an excellent start to getting the tone quality under control). This is a case where long tones can benefit you. Play the C# until you get a pleasing sound, then reinforce that with repetition. Do the same with D. There will always be a difference in timbre, but it won't jump out at the listener after you learn some better control. You'll be surprised how automatic these adjustments become after a little practice. Every sax player in the world has to contend with this, and most manage to figure out how to make it work. You will too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,022 Posts
When playing slow passages sometimes it becomes even more important to try to more closely match the timbre C# and D when one follows the other in a phrase---especially in classical playing. One way to accomplish this is to play C# with the "long" fingering which is the low C# fingering with the octave key added. On some saxes this fingering is helped by lifting the first finger on top, on others it is not. The D can be made to sound more open by substituting the palm D for the octave key. In addition to these fingerings fingerings one can learn to "voice" the notes to more closely match the other.

An exercise to learn to do this is to play C# with the open fingering alternating with the long fingering without the octave key and try to make the open fingering sound as "rich" as the long fingering. This exercise can also be used to improve the tone of Bb, B, and C as well.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
Joined
·
7,444 Posts
Even tone and response across the break is something we look for in a sax, and sometimes it can be improved with some tweaking to the horn. If I'm looking at saxes and playing them, I have a few quick tests to weed out the ones I don't want to bother with - not to say they wouldn't be great with some work or for some other player. Like playing D2 and comparing it to E2 and C2. Sometimes if I find one with a strong D, that's a very good sign that I will be very interested in this horn - for example, if its a new Selmer or other premium horn and everything else is good, I know that its going to be a powerful horn. So, its entirely possible that you're focusing on the C# when really what you have is a weak D2.
You can use the palm D to augment the sound of the D2 but you add the palm D, not 'substitute' it as mentioned above. Personally I have seen my own back-up tenor evolve from a horn with a weak D2 and some other problem areas into a total screamer with a D2 that you can feel vibrate, all with the same mouthpiece. I did have an overhaul on it, am now using a different neck and have really been trying to find the perfect reeds for it. Turns out its hard to beat Rico Royal 2.5, a reed I used a long time before the Rico Select Jazz came out.
Consequently, I never used the palm D with D2 when performing as I look at it as a crutch for a problematic horn, set-up or player. It took a while but I defeated that D and now look forward to any song in C so I can honk it! I have to say the main thing in the transformation is the Selmer Paris Series III Sterling silver neck. The horn is a 1989 Selmer USA Tenor.
BTW, I hope we are talking about a tenor you are having the problem on - I never heard of this on alto or anything else - its the tenor long neck with double curve that is at the bottom of this problem, usually, and depending on what horn you have there are probably alternative necks. However, I have to leave open the possibility that you have a weak D plus a problem with C#, like the upper stack keys are too open.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,758 Posts
Aside from sloppy fingering around the side Bb I find playing the break is one of the first things to go when I lay off for a while.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,482 Posts
Good air support will help the less-focused notes (like middle C#) sound better.

I think most experienced players occasionally use either the long C# or the short D fingerings for their distinctive tone quality, but in general the solution is practice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,336 Posts
Good air support will help the less-focused notes (like middle C#) sound better.

I think most experienced players occasionally use either the long C# or the short D fingerings for their distinctive tone quality, but in general the solution is practice.
+1.........also, if you work on segments of songs that involve playing across the break, you'll soon be surprised at how quickly you can sneak a little 'long form D' into the passage. It just takes practice.
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top