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Discussion Starter #1
It seems there are several tastes that people have about what syllable to emulate when you attack a note. Some say tee, too, dee, doo, doh (like row), etc. Is there a universally "accepted" syllable for saxophone, or is it a preference of the player? I'm used to the "doh" syllable, but is there another I should use?

Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2011
787 Posts
This is a great subject, because just as you create inflection in the way you articulate words and syllables, you can create inflection in the way you articulate notes. Probably the most common syllables used to articulate notes include "ta" and "da." The "ta" articulation is commonly used to produce a classical attack, and "da" works well for a jazz legato. "Dot" is also often used to describe a jazz marcato articulation.

For beginning students, I always teach the "ta" attack to be certain they are striking the reed with the tongue and forming the embouchure correctly. As the student advances into jazz playing, I'll introduce the "da" and "dot" articulations.

There are many other ways of articulating that may come into play at the advanced level of playing in order to add personality to an individual's style. A couple of players that come to mind are Stanley Turrentine and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. If you listen to these guys, you'll hear several different types of articulation.

I'd suggest working to master the "ta" articulation, however, before experimenting too much with different styles of articulation. As with any fundamental component of playing, it's important to have a good instructor to make sure you're approaching the basics correctly.

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There are several basic styles of music that require different styles of articulation.

Legitimate or Classical
- Regular........Tah, Dah
- Staccato......Tu, Du
- Legato.........Doo, Loo,
- Very Legato..Roo (tongue doesn't touch)
- Marcato.......TAH, DAH

- Jazz Legato...........Doo, Dah
- Jazz Accent...........Dot, DAHT
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