Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

· Registered
144 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A thread to compile useful tone producing exercises. Obviously there is no best, that word´s just there as a hook.

I,ve been very pleased with playing lower register notes with the octave key pressed.

For instance play slow quavers from F down to Bb thus, F2 F1 E2 E1 Eb2 Eb1 D2 D1 (fingered F2 to D2. The octave key remains pressed throughout))
then F2 F1 Gb2 Gb1 G2 G1 Ab2 AB1 (fingered F2 to Ab2)
then C#3 C#2 C3 C2 B3 B2 Bb3 Bb2 A2 A1 (fingered C#3 to A2)

To do this the throat needs to ´fall down´ and voice the note.

I say slow quavers as a guide. Obviously until you get the hang of it you won´t be able to maintain the quaver pattern.

This practise is wonderful preparation for playing rich easy low notes. It helps to learn to manipulate your throat and to voice.
You can also play in the lower register with the octave key pressed and see if you can get it to sound nice.
You can extend the practise further on the range of the horn (C#1 to Bb1 + 8ve key), and D3 upwards.

This exercise sounds rather terrible when you begin. As you make progress you can play longer notes and crescendo diminuendoes.

Good luck, be careful with the neighbours!!

· The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum
27,454 Posts
A similar exercise, matching upper-octave notes with the lower-octave fingerings. (ref: Dave Liebman's "Tone" book.)

. . . and the first couple of exercises in Rascher's "Top Tones" book. Tip: gotta read the text carefully before playing, though.

· Distinguished SOTW Member
3,679 Posts
I have a very simple one to add.

The idea behind this one is to keep it as steady as possible and keep the pitch locked in as much as you can. And NO SUB-TONING. You're cheating if you go there.

I like to start with G in the lower octave of the horn for students starting this exercise. A generally very easy note to play.

Start with blowing air through the horn, no tone. Use the same amount of force you generally use to play a note at pp. Then begin to produce a tone while still blowing. Make sure the note that starts is the one fingered and not an overtone of the note. You'll have to keep your embouchure relaxed to do so.

When you lock in on the note, start bringing the volume up till you get to just under f. Not crazy loud. That might take your whole breath at first.

The very important thing to be aware of is the very beginning of the tone. Make sure it's as smooth as possible. With practice, you'll be able to start the tone at quieter levels, so it just comes out of the wind noise while just blowing through the horn.

Then go the other way. Start strong, and bring the volume down till you take it to a whisper to trail off into the wind noise. Don't pinch the end of the note and close the sound. When you're at the quietest, there should be wind noise surrounding the tone. Let the wind pass through. It's the exercise. This will develop a lot of control and you'll be able to end the note any way you want away from this exercise.

You're trying to develop a strong yet relaxed embouchure that will allow the reed to vibrate right to the end where your breath is just passing over the reed.

As you get better with the easy notes, do it with notes lower and higher.


· Out of Office
Grafton + TH & C alto || Naked Lady 10M || TT soprano || Martin Comm III
30,061 Posts
With the words "tone producing", as you say, it's hard to say which is best. So I prefer to think about tone control.

I made a collection of all the exercises that have been best for me, and for students when I used to teach, and put them together into one one big combo exercise:

More about it on this page

I've seen, and been involved in, a lot of discussion on tone in regard to embouchure, e.g. tongue position, lip shape, how much mouthpiece to take in. Top be honest all of that is important but should only really be advised by a real teacher in person, not as online advice unless very much more general.

Added to that, we are involved in different genres, have different setups, so to me the best tone exercises are those that don't promise to give you the best tone, but the best control, so you can shape the sound how you want.

To that end I developed the above.

It breaks down and involves the important components of tone control: articulation, pitch, dynamics. It hen adds the octave (or other interval) slurring leaps as these are part of what makes long tone practice more useful when actually playing tunes rather than sterile long note exercise.

There is also a very valid argument that playing lots of ballads is the best tone exercise. This is probably true for people who really cannot concentrate and focus on actual tone technique exercises.

But as I've said before, the athlete analogy works here: running is good practice for a runner, but without breaking it down into the actual techniques of how to be fast, you can only go so far just by running.

· The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum
27,454 Posts
Turnaround - interesting. I used to use that exercise, but beginning and ending with no sound - sort of your two examples combined. But I did it for embouchure control and to find a formation of the embouchure at its most relaxed and to avoid over-tensing. But I never thought of it as a tone-building exercise, per se.
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.