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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I've only been playing 3 years. I've been working a lot on my embouchure of late as I think I was biting a little too much, so tended to have too much top-bottom pressure and not enough from the sides. Someone mentioned a drawstring bag lately, when referring to embouchure, and that has helped me improve.

Anyway, I've been practicing what is for me, difficult note/tone transitions. Slurring from A5 (normal range, octave key) down to D5 is the hardest. Often I'm still playing an A, though I've fingered a D. No doubt this is due to the 3:2 frequency ratio, etc., combined with my inexperience. (The slurring exercise A5-A4-A5 in The Art of Saxophone Playing is not posing the same sort of problem for me.) In practice, I find that I will automatically tongue the A5-D5 transition to avoid embarrassment, especially if playing in front of people.

Can anyone provide any tips? I understand it's difficult in a forum, and I plan to ask for help from my teacher, but i won't see him for another month, and it's very frustrating. I need answers! ;-)

Thanks,
Dave
 

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Grafton + TH & C alto || Naked Lady 10M || TT soprano || Martin Comm III
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This is a common problem. First thing to check is that there are no leaks, so get your horn looked at by a good technician as a leak in many places (often undetectable with a leak light) can cause this.

Although it can be embouchure, it can also be caused by slightly sloppy fingering, ie closing the D or rest of the RH stack a split second before closing the G (LH3). Ideally they should go down simultaneously, but the best way i have found to counteract this is initially to consciously close the G just slightly before the RH stack. Think "left hand, right hand" sooner or later they will be simultaneous, this is just a method to work on to get over the problem.

It's a case of the way your conscious mind connects the dots until it becomes subconscious.

But it could still be an embouchure issue, harder to diagnose and deal with over the internet, see a teacher.
 

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Pardon me for my ignorance but what does the number beside the letter, A5,D5, A4 represent? I must admit that until now I don't understand the significance of the number beside the letter. Is it the 5th octave, in the case of A5 or the 4th octave with respect to A4?
 

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Pardon me for my ignorance but what does the number beside the letter, A5,D5, A4 represent? I must admit that until now I don't understand the significance of the number beside the letter. Is it the 5th octave, in the case of A5 or the 4th octave with respect to A4?
Yes, they are to do with which octave the note is. but I often ignore those as there are different systems for numbering the octaves.

In this context I think it's obvious which notes we are talking about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Pete, I think you hit the nail on the head with the "lazy-G". I tried closing G momentarily before the RH stack, practising to the point where the difference in closing time was not discernible in the sound, and the problem appears to have gone! Now with practice I hope to get the G and the RH closing at precisely the same time without thinking about it.

Thanks so much for answering my post! Gems like this from people like you are one of the reasons this forum can be so helpful.

Thanks!
Dave
 

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Thanks Pete, I think you hit the nail on the head with the "lazy-G". I tried closing G momentarily before the RH stack, practising to the point where the difference in closing time was not discernible in the sound, and the problem appears to have gone! Now with practice I hope to get the G and the RH closing at precisely the same time without thinking about it.

Thanks so much for answering my post! Gems like this from people like you are one of the reasons this forum can be so helpful.

Thanks!
Dave
You're welcome.

If it's working like that so you don't notice then basically you've cracked it. That was very quick!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
In hindsight, I'd noticed that when I really snapped the pearls closed, I tended to play the D cleanly. Somehow I guess that meant the timing of closing the L and RH was better. Now I think I understand what was happening. Thanks Pete!

At the risk of sounding a little lame, it's quite cool to have someone with your experience helping a noob like me :)
 

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Yes, they are to do with which octave the note is. but I often ignore those as there are different systems for numbering the octaves.

In this context I think it's obvious which notes we are talking about.
Thank you very much for your explanation. Just a follow up question, would it be correct to say that it does not necessarily follow that A4 is the fourth octave since according to you "there are different systems for numbering the octaves."
 

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Thank you very much for your explanation. Just a follow up question, would it be correct to say that it does not necessarily follow that A4 is the fourth octave since according to you "there are different systems for numbering the octaves."
It all depends on what you call A1. Some people use this to mean the lowest A on the instrument, others use the more traditional system in which middle C of the piano is designated as C4. This has got further confused by many MIDI sequencer and keyboard systems using C3 to mean middle C (of the piano).

That system can get confusing especially when applied to different instruments.

The lowest C on a flute is one octave below middle C on piano, yet flautists often refer to it as low C. This makes sense in the context of the flute which has three notes C (discounting altissimo) so low C, middle C and high C are fine for flautists to discuss among themselves.
 

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It all depends on what you call A1. Some people use this to mean the lowest A on the instrument, others use the more traditional system in which middle C of the piano is designated as C4. This has got further confused by many MIDI sequencer and keyboard systems using C3 to mean middle C (of the piano).

That system can get confusing especially when applied to different instruments.

The lowest C on a flute is one octave below middle C on piano, yet flautists often refer to it as low C. This makes sense in the context of the flute which has three notes C (discounting altissimo) so low C, middle C and high C are fine for flautists to discuss among themselves.
Thank you very much Pete. Your explanation is very enlightening. Really, before your comment, I could not understand how a C5 which I assumed is the 5th octave from the middle C on the piano could be played on the saxophone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It seems this a problem for me that'll require a little perseverance, as it crops up again occasionally. I think the root cause is that I tend to lift my third (G) finger too high from the pearl, while my RH fingers are resting on the pearls, so they tend to close a little faster at times. It seems to manifest itself more when the reed is an "edgier" one.

I'm planning to practice resting my LH fingers on the pearls. I started last night with a rubber band holding that finger to the pearl. It felt quite weird at first. I'll persevere, and report back if anyone is interested.
 
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