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I have been playing alto sax for about half- three quarters of a year. All this time, I have not been using my tongue to articulate, but rather have been using air stops and starts to articulate the notes, and one steady air stream for slurs, while just going through the keys.

I have begun to start trying tonguing. I have been able to articulate some notes, but I always get this noise when I use my tongue to articulate (like a thud or slapping noise.) I havent achieved much success in tonguing.

I have two questions

1) Is it imperative that I tongue? Or can I go back to my orginal form of articulation

2) When you are tonguing, is that slap noise normal? If not, how do you get rid of it?
 

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Hey Alto Man,

I see your join date is this month..so welcome. Don't know if you tried the Search function before posting this, so if not give it a try. (tongue technique rendered quite a few hits)

Having said that, on the SOTW Home Page are many instrucitonal articles, one group of which is titled Beginners Corner. The link below is from that group of articles - really good stuff is there to be found. If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend taking a little time to explore. Persoanlly, I've learned many "tricks" that have dramatically helped me in performances as well as increasing my enjoyment factor. :D Take care.

http://www.saxontheweb.net/Learning/BeginnersCorner10.html

New Life Sax


Alto Man said:
I have been playing alto sax for about half- three quarters of a year. All this time, I have not been using my tongue to articulate, but rather have been using air stops and starts to articulate the notes, and one steady air stream for slurs, while just going through the keys.

I have begun to start trying tonguing. I have been able to articulate some notes, but I always get this noise when I use my tongue to articulate (like a thud or slapping noise.) I havent achieved much success in tonguing.

I have two questions

1) Is it imperative that I tongue? Or can I go back to my orginal form of articulation

2) When you are tonguing, is that slap noise normal? If not, how do you get rid of it?
 

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Alto Man said:
1) Is it imperative that I tongue? Or can I go back to my orginal form of articulation

2) When you are tonguing, is that slap noise normal? If not, how do you get rid of it?
1)Yes. NO.

2) No. Get yourself a teacher. It's something that we have limited ability to help you with over the internet.
 

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exactly what littleman said. I'd say listen to some recordings to get ideas about tongueing and just keep working on it. All these parts of playing are tough when you start, you need to spend time developing each aspect, and over time it will get much easier
 

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There might be something in this post that can help. :)

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=64037&highlight=tongue

As you learn to tongue properly remember to try to touch just the tip of the reed with the part of the tongue just behind the tip, and to move the tongue gently like a feather (not like a brick). Remember that the tongue "pulls away" from the reed to start the tone. Good luck.

John
 

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This is not a substitute for lessons, but there's a good basic primer/lesson on tonguing in Sue Terry's Practice like the Pros book (which comes highly recommended by Tim Price).

Rory
 

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Is it ok to slur even when the music doesn't say to? I only tongue when I have two or more of the same notes. I never knew I had to do it any other time. Is it only ok to slur throughout an entire song if says legato? I can play "Star Spangled Banner" and it sound really nice when I slur the whole way throughout , should I be tonguing where the slurs don't appear?
 

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SmokerBoy said:
Is it ok to slur even when the music doesn't say to? I only tongue when I have two or more of the same notes. I never knew I had to do it any other time. Is it only ok to slur throughout an entire song if says legato? I can play "Star Spangled Banner" and it sound really nice when I slur the whole way throughout , should I be tonguing where the slurs don't appear?
Some music has markings to indicate articulation but my opinion is that you should get used to using your musical taste to articulate as seems appropriate to you. This is imperative if you want to play jazz at all. If you have no idea what i just said means then a teacher will help you. I doubt there are many pieces where only tonguing repeated notes would sound right. :)
 

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I'm guessing that Smokerboy's playing in school band?
If so he should work on tonguing everything without slur markings(wherever possible.) and GET A TEACHER.
 

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SmokerBoy said:
Is it ok to slur even when the music doesn't say to? I only tongue when I have two or more of the same notes. I never knew I had to do it any other time. Is it only ok to slur throughout an entire song if says legato? I can play "Star Spangled Banner" and it sound really nice when I slur the whole way throughout , should I be tonguing where the slurs don't appear?
Try to tongue between different notes, and a whole new world of expressive sax playing will open for you.

I'm NOT kidding.
 

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littleman not everyone has access to a teacher. I'm 27 years old and I live on disability. I don't have transportation and the only time I get to go out is when my aunt goes to the grocery store. The only option I have is online classes, but it's like 50$ a pop and I really can't afford that. So please don't tell me in caps "get a teacher" as if everyone has that option because not everyone does.
 

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SmokerBoy said:
So please don't tell me in caps "get a teacher" as if everyone has that option because not everyone does.
Ok, that is a very valid point ... the fact of course is that having a teacher, or even practicing with a fellow musician, is the best way to improve your technical and musical skills. So maybe there are other saxophone players in your area who you could play together with? It's fun, and it will give you feedback on how to improve.
 

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SmokerBoy said:
littleman not everyone has access to a teacher. I'm 27 years old and I live on disability. I don't have transportation and the only time I get to go out is when my aunt goes to the grocery store. The only option I have is online classes, but it's like 50$ a pop and I really can't afford that. So please don't tell me in caps "get a teacher" as if everyone has that option because not everyone does.
Fair enough. You will find a lot (and I mean A LOT) of info on this forum about tonguing and articulation if you do a search for those terms in thread titles. The essential idea is to use your tongue to stop the vibration of the reed at certain points or give a clean start or ending to musical phrases or to seperate repeated notes. Most people think of the consonant "T" to make the correct movement with their tongue as a way of getting started on this. You want the touch on the reed to be light.

In terms of "phrasing" through the use of tonguing, it is easiest to understand in relation to playing a song whose lyrics you know. How would a singer make the notes and words "hang together" so they make musical sense? In the same way you are trying to group notes together through the use of your tongue so what you play makes sense. If you are using beginner music books many pieces will be marked for phrasing already by the use (or non use) of slurs to group notes together.

Hope this helps. :)
 

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Rootytoot says it.

To add a little, an exercise you can do to hear actually what it going on, is playing scales with different tonguing.

For example (- = slur, + = tongue) :
+A-B+C-D+E-F+G-A

+A-B-C+D-E-F+G-A

You'll hear the difference immediately. These kind of exercises helped me tremendously to get my tonguing decent, and also to realize why tonguing is important in the first place : it makes your rythm together with the accents.
 

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SmokerBoy said:
littleman not everyone has access to a teacher. I'm 27 years old and I live on disability. I don't have transportation and the only time I get to go out is when my aunt goes to the grocery store. The only option I have is online classes, but it's like 50$ a pop and I really can't afford that. So please don't tell me in caps "get a teacher" as if everyone has that option because not everyone does.
I know many teachers that do 'house calls'. As far as price, I don't know, but many charge less than $50--and you don't have to have a weekly lesson.

Once a month is better than no lessons.
 
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