Slaptongue & Smacktongue

Smacktongue (non-pitched)

Example: Smacktongue

The slaptongue effect can be categorised as two different types, pitched and non-pitched. I think the best term for the more percussive non-pitched variety that has more of an indefinite pitch like a smack or clap is smacktongue.  This effect works very well on a low Bb.

  • Place the surface of your tongue flat against the reed and finger a low note.
  • It should feel like if you try to move it away there is a vacuum between your tongue and the roof of your mouth (just like making that annoying clicking sound people sometimes do)
  •  Now quickly pull the tongue off the reed as if saying “pah!” or “tah!”
  • The tongue should not be brought backwards.

This works best when the saxophone has no leaks, you should get a loud and resonant “smack” sound.

Listen to King Curtis with Champion Jack Dupree at approx 3:49:

Slaptongue (pitched)

This is very similar, and is a more classical technique, common for musical passages in the early part of the twentieth century, especially in some novelty, danceband and vaudeville styles. With slaptongue, more of the actual note is sounded and the tongue is not used so explosively. (Examples and more on this to come).

Listen to Joshua Redman at 00:14:

Columbia Saxophone Sextet bass saxophone slaptongue:


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