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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is something that I've heard a lot with very good players: they don't end their note just by ending their airflow, no, they do something special, a kind of vibrato or something. You can hear it at the solo's of Coltrane in the "Konserthuset, StockHolm" (by Miles Davis), or the Giant Steps song, at the end of every phrase in the theme. I don't now how to get such a tone. Do I have to tighten my mouth a bit? Or loosen it?
It's something that, IMHO really "finishes" your sound, without I think you don't sound so good (I'm not saying in ALL situations, but really, it pwns) Also, vibrato, how do you do that. I don't get how you do it by tightening and then loosening your embouchure, since I can't do it that fast (I guess practice). I can now imitate the vibrato by moving my tongue in front (not touching it) of the reed. I guess it has something to do with the long notes, although my sax teacher, who did, uhm, conservatory (that's the dutch word for it, you know what I'm talking about, "university" but then for music) never told me to practise it...

Greets and TIA


Technical specs: Keilwerth ST90, Meyer nr 7, Rico Royal 2,5. And I play for 7 years already (the last year I'm really practising seriously and with motivation and dedication, since I found that I didn't want to become an astronaut, fireman or cop, but a musician :D)

I don't know my level actually, I am now almost done with playing the "St. Thomas Solo" by Sonny Rollins perfectly (on the Saxophone Colossus album) and I can play some songs of Bird (Ornithology, Moose the Mooche and almost Donna Lee) and improvise on Solar (Davis), Mr Pc ('Trane), Cantaloupe Island (Hancock), So What, and some other things.-, and of course blues in most scales. Atm I'm learning how to use diminished scales on II-IV-I progressions...
 

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In his book "The Art of Saxophone Playing" Larry Teal has an excellent chapter on learning to play with vibrato. Of course the best way to learn is by taking lessons from a good saxophone teacher. I'm not quite sure what you mean by ending the tone. Some players continue the vibrato motion of the lip/jaw after the tone has stopped but there is still the sound of the air going over the reed and you can hear the "vibrato" on just the air. This is done more on ballads and other slow melodies than on uptempo songs.
 

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The effect I think he means is I think originally a Lester Young thing, and his disciples such as Getz and Trane sort of picked it up. Its a lip vibrato that starts just before the note ends, adding a little shimmer to the sound. Practice your vibrato at varying speeds to get some control over it, then just listen and play along with the recordings and it will come...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes, it appears that it you mostly learn it by playing for quite some time (10 years or something like that?) I'll ask my teacher how I might get such a sound...
Thanks
 

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I feel like saying: don't intellectualize (?). Listen, practice and just DO!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've got another question: My last gig (not that I do a lot of gigs) was pretty much a disaster. We played following songs: Mr PC, So What, Freddie Freeloader and Help the Poor.
I had tuned my sax before the gig with the piano (a digital, on the B, because I've heard it's the best because you aren't closing any valves, etc.) . And during the gig, the sax players didn't get any mics (all the rest DID, so bass, piano and singers, all amplified). So, during the solo's, I really had to give everything to make the people hear me.
I barely heard myself, because I didn't have any monitor speakers, and the accoustics in the hall were terrible (it's box-shaped, concrete walls, how bad can it go?). For an alto sax, that's still ok, because it's tone is a bit higher then the bass and piano, thus making it easier to distinguish, but a tenor is a different thing. After the gig, my teacher (who was in the audience) told me that I've played really out of tune, +-a quarter tone. From that point I understood why people weren't very keen on my playing. Now, I'm wondering, if you are blowing as much as you can, does that lower your tone? I play on a Meyer No. 7 with 2,5 Rico Royal reeds.
 

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Yes, if you overblow it can definately make you flat. Always good to have high baffle pieces for these bad situations, or else bring your own amp/mic. Thats probably the best solution.
 

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You might consider getting a small tuner that has both tones and a dial to show the pitch. Tuning a note at a medium volume and then checking the pitch on the same note playing as loud as you can play and then as soft as you can play is a very revealing exercise. Practicing crescendos and diminuendos keeping the needle in the center is an excellent way to learn to make the necessary adjustments in the oral cavity to compensate for the change in the volume of the air to keep the pitch constant. Playing too softly when tuning your sax can also give a "false pitch". Make sure you play mf or f when you tune.

It is great to hear that you are playing "gigs" already and have a teacher who tells you the truth.;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the info guys. Just noticed that the last 2 days were really sh*tty. It's like sometimes you just don't make any progress at all. I just practiced the "St. Thomas" solo by Rollins. I've been practicing for a week now, every day an hour with metronome (including scales, improvisation) and I feel it isn't going along. Maybe I gotta try something else for a while. I also just had real trouble going from an F#2 to an A (The 2nd octave valve closes real slow, and I had it checked just a few months ago, maybe the spring that is too weak? or some oil could work too). Also, I'm getting fed up with the weak and fragile sound I make. I hope it's the instrument (a five year old Keilwerth ST90) that's doing it. Anyways, I'm going to get a semi professional sax in one of the next months (2nd hand), and I hope i'll get a better sound.
 

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I know it's difficult when you reach a plateau in your practicing/playing. Progression in musical skills is not linear. If you just keep plugging away and you'll be rewarded. Try not to feel frustrated, just realize it's all part of a learning curve that's not smooth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I have a new problem: I've read that long tones are really important for intonation and sound. Now, I've been practicing my intonation with a guitar tuner. I tune my sax on the B (so that the tuner says "A"). I get that perfectly. But all the rest is really out of tune! Doens't matter how much I try to bend my pitch, it's just stays out of tune! Does anyone know why? Also, which is the best note to tune on? I play tenor with a Meyer No. 7 (2,5 Rico Royal reeds).
 

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Hammertime, I posted a similar thread: Out of Tune, apparently very out!
You might read some of the fine suggestions I was offered.
 

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HeavyWeather77 said:
A lot of people call this "terminal vibrato." Just a little wiggle so you can show them who's boss.
Who's them that we're showing who's boss?:D

Hmmm...terminal vibrato. Sounds deadly;)
 
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