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Discussion Starter #1
I've been playing alto for awhile and have very tight embouchure and I'm really happy with my tone at this point. I've been spending some time with a tenor. I've read a lot about the tenor, and the embouchure, and I've read that the embouchure is looser than on an alto. I've been tuning and using some good play-along CDs. I think my tone is decent on most notes, although I'm still working on a few notes (B and C are a bit flat). And low B wobbles.

But it doesn't feel like my embouchure is tremendously looser. Looser yes, and I take in more mouthpiece (I use a Jody Jazz 8M on alto), but it doesn't feel a lot looser.

How loose is "looser"? And is it looser on lower notes with a bit of tightening up on the higher notes. Because that seems to be what gets me a better tone on some of the higher notes - or is it possible that I'm compensating for doing something wrong by tightening up when I get to middle B and C?
 

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Not that much looser. On the flip side ogf the coin,soprano is much tighter. W/ my soprano set chops are gone after 20-30 minutes of playing. Alto and tenor are quite similar w/ embouchure,tenor is just a little looser. My oldest daughter plays mostly tenor and has no problems playing alto occainsionally and she's 11 going on 12.
 

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NU2SAX - play your tenor mouthpiece into a tuner. Normally, if you're playing an F# your embouchure should be loose enough. But (and here's the real reason for testing like this) if you are playing higher than the F# or squeaking, your throat may not be open like it should be and/or your embouchure is tensed too much.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Play just the mouthpiece? Not the horn right? Ok, I'll give that a shot. Thanks.
 

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In theory, except for the exteme high register and extreme low register,embouchure stays the same. Jaw drops slightly for the really low notes and tightens for really high notes. In reality for octave key notes my embouchure is a little tighter.Slightly Looser for non octave key notes.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
sycc said:
In theory, except for the exteme high register and extreme low register,embouchure stays the same. Jaw drops slightly for the really low notes and tightens for really high notes. In reality for octave key notes my embouchure is a little tighter.Slightly Looser for non octave key notes.
Yes, that seems to be what I'm doing. I'm playing with a tuner, which I do with alto from time to time (I found with alto it really made me pay attention to tone and embouchure when I was working on getting a good tone throughout the register). I'll pay closer attention when I play later.

I also find that I'm playing just slightly chin up/chin level, not with the neck at a 90* angle as with alto. Is that correct?
 

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in fact, you should have the mouthpiece right in front of you.

Concerning the high notes : in fact, you shouldn't tighten up your embouchure, as it thins out the tone. Throat control is the key. Same for lower notes : if you loosen up too much, you'll play them flat. Open troath and good breath support is the key to them I discovered.

I used to do the loosening/tightening stuff too, but it makes a sax hard to control when playing the upper register. I improved a lot by taking in more mouthpiece, and do the tone exercises mentioned by Phil Barone (see section tone producing). They focus on low notes, but help in the high register just as much.

my 2 cents.
 

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When I play tenor my neck is not at a 90 degree angle. The neck drops down slightly. I play standing w/ tenor to the side. My daughter's teacher taught her to hold tenor up w/ right hand while sitting. This had the effect of tenor going in mouth at 90 degrees. When she stands it droops slightly. If tenor does not go in your mouth at 90 it should not be a problem unless it is extreme droop like a 45 degree angle.
 

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true sycc, but you bent your head down then to reach for the mouthpiece, which should then be right in front of your mouth. I found out it makes the control of the throat a little harder, it's more difficult to open up when you play with you head down. It's like with singing : if you tilt up your head, you thin out the tone, if you bow it down, you lose power too.

at least my idea. This said, I have to admit I play sometimes with my tenor on my leg too and my head bent, because keeping it in front of you a whole set can be pretty demanding from the muscles in my hand and arms.
 

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An easy comparison of the alto and tenor embouchure can be done by playing the mouthpiece and neck combination. On the alto the pitch should be no higher than Ab concert. On the tenor no higher than E concert.

I respectfully disagree that the embouchure should be tightened to play the high register and loosened to play the low register. Doing this creates intonation problems and it is simply not necessary with the proper embouchure and airstream and a sax in good working order. Except for the altissimo register, all notes on the saxophone from low Bb to high F can be successfully played with the same embouchure tension. If you think about it, the fact that different notes don't require different embouchures makes a saxophonist's task a lot easier.

An easy way to find the proper mouthpiece angle is to adjust the neckstrap so that the reed touches the groove right above the chin with the instrument in playing position and the head perfectly straight. Once the neckstrap is at this length then you lower the head slightly so that the mouthpiece goes into the mouth. Any more than a very slight downward tilt of the mouthpiece tends to put too much pressure against the lower teeth when you play.

John
 

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If you're having to make your embouchere looser for the lower register, you're probably too tight in the upper register.. or so I've been told. You should be able to easily switch between octaves using just the octave key(or your throat voicing) and not changing your embouchere at all. Personally, I wouldn't call any of my emboucheres tight on any horn except maybe sop, but I haven't played it in months.

However, everyone's embouchere is different and if you're getting good tone, control, pitch, and its easy to play for long lengths of time.. then don't worry about it and just play.
 

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JBT is spot on.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Does mouthpiece have anything to do with how tight the embouchure needs to be? I continuously work on my embouchure - and this is after a year of playing - and I find that I need a tighter embouchure with my Jody Jazz piece on alto than I did with a couple of other mouthpieces.
 

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Comments Welcome

I've used an exercise from Paul R. Coats to find the right embouchure pressure and angle. Briefly: Playing the mouthpiece only, blow a fortissimo concert G (A for alto), and adjust the amount of mouthpiece if necessary to get a firm tone. Do this in front of a mirror, remembering the angle the mouthpiece makes and the general feel of the embouchure.

I found notably better results by adjusting both the neck strap and the right hand position to maintain this angle with the sax attached. Three effects in particular stood out immediately: 1) Embouchure changes became barely perceptible, although not entirely gone. 2) It was easy to play large intervals cleanly and with better control. 3) The desired angle required me to hold the sax a bit out in front of me with the right hand, which was initially quite tiresome. I've tried to get around this with different combinations of strap length and neck angle, but nothing works as well.

See:
http://www.saxontheweb.net/Learning/Beginner_Corner4.html
http://www.saxontheweb.net/Learning/Beginner_Corner3.html
 

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Jolle said:
more with the reed strength in combination with the tip opening as far as I experienced. So that would be a "yes".
Correction : the right way to say it, is that with a wider opening and/or a stronger reed you need a better developed embouchure, not so much a tighter one. If you tighten your embouchure with a heavier setup, the setup is too heavy. Been there...
 

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gary said:
...if you are playing higher than the F# or squeaking, your throat may not be open like it should be and/or your embouchure is tensed too much.
Evidently there is a little misunderstanding about what I meant. Perhaps it would have been clearer to have posted "considerably higher" when I posted "higher than the F# or squeaking". I'm talking aberration as opposed to an expected "normal". :D

Also, I do not mean that the only reason to match pitches with your mpc is to see if you are too tight. I mean it is "a" reason to do it. For example, if I'm just a little constricted in the throat somedays, I might not even notice it while I'm playing. But if I take a moment to blow into the mpc alone and I'm playing a pitch way higher that the F# (or squeaking), then I know that I need to open my throat up more and relax the tenseness in my shoulders. Then when I go back to playing, my sound has more depth and fullness.


(btw - I have double-posted this info in another similar thread. If you see it again elsewhere, you're not going nuts. :D)
 

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jbtsax said:
......

I respectfully disagree that the embouchure should be tightened to play the high register and loosened to play the low register. Doing this creates intonation problems and it is simply not necessary with the proper embouchure and airstream and a sax in good working order. Except for the altissimo register, all notes on the saxophone from low Bb to high F can be successfully played with the same embouchure tension. If you think about it, the fact that different notes don't require different embouchures makes a saxophonist's task a lot easier.

......
John
This manner of thinking comes probably from M VI players who had to compensate for the intonation of their instrument (the "smile" fot the higher notes)

On the other hand, you will need more air support for the both ends (lower notes and higher ones..)
 
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