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Tone & Sound (Vol 1)

Taming The Saxophone Vol I – Tone Without Tears. All the tone exercises on the site and lots more

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Taming The Saxophone vol 1 - tone without tears

In the Tone Section

  • Intonation & Tuning

    Which of these is more “in tune”? Listen to these two files, then check the video. Example 1 Example 2   First of all please try this little experiment. The two audiofiles on the right are two different versions of the ... Read more…
  • Saxophone Tone Exercises

    How to get the best sound out of your saxophone, whether you want a jazzy, bluesy, pop, rock sound. How to sound like your favourite player or get your own unique sound Read more…
  • Saxophone Articulation & Tonguing

    How to tongue quickly or slowly and evenly. High r or Heavy. Articulation is the first part of the sound and so possibly the most important way to enhance your tone. Read more…
  • Saxophone Vibrato

    How to do vibrato Database This involves moving the jaw down and up repeatedly to create oscillations in the pitch of the note, as if saying “yah yah yah yah yah….” This is different to flute which ... Read more…
  • Mouthpiece Exercises

    Improve your saxophone tone and expression There is one well established exercise which some people refer to it as The Mouthpiece Exercise, however it’s definitely not the only one as we shall see. All of the mouthpiece exercises referred to ... Read more…
  • Saxophone Harmonics (Overtones)

    Why is practising overtones so useful? In order to play the overtones you need to think about your embouchure, especially the shape of your oral cavity and tongue position. You need to be able to imagine the sound ... Read more…
  • Altissimo

    The altissimo range of the saxophone consists of many notes higher than the “standard” range that is taught in elementary and intermediate stages of learning (up to F or F# with instruments that have that key). ... Read more…
  • Subtone

    Another Kind of Blue Harlem Nocturne Imperial (Midnight in the Naked City) Slinky Polkadots & Moonbeams See: Midnight in the Naked City CD Subtone could just as easily have come under the Effects section, as it can be considered  as it is no ... Read more…
  • Visualising the Sound

    There’s no doubt about it. Practising long notes can be boring. Bored practice is wasted practice so if you find that your mind is wandering then that is a good time to either take a break from practising ... Read more…
  • Saxophone Embouchure

    “Correct” Embouchure Embouchure very simply means what you do with your mouth in order to play the saxophone. There is more than one “correct” saxophone embouchure. The pictures on the right are from a very good book by Ben Davis ... Read more…
  • Breathing Exercises & Breath Control

    Breathing Exercises Diaphragm Breathing   Good breathing and breath control when playing the saxophone is important for two reasons: Playing extended phrases without running out of breath Having good breath support from your lungs The second of these is probably ... Read more…
  • Diaphragm Breathing

    Breathing Exercises Diaphragm Breathing This question comes up a lot, and it can be quite a difficult one to answer. People tend to use various analogies rather than a pure physiological analysis of what happens. You ... Read more…
  • Saxophone Circular Breathing

    What is circular breathing? It means breathing in while still blowing a note or notes on the saxophone. It sounds much harder than it really is. When you use circular breathing, you are still breathing in and out ... Read more…
  • Bright Sound or Dark Sound

    There seems to be a lot of confusion about how we describe sound. It seems many people these days want what they call a dark sound, but when I delve deeper into what they mean, I ... Read more…

How to improve your saxophone tone

Getting a truly great sound on the saxophone is one of the most elusive targets for any player. There is no real shortcut, but there are some more efficient ways to get there rather than merely banging out long notes. Long notes are important, but here we are going to look at other, more interesting, ways to get there as well as how to practise long notes efficiently. First though, you need to make sure you are actually hearing your real sound. If you are in the position to record with reasonably good equipment and ideally add some room or hall simulation (ie a good natural sounding ambience), then recording can give you a very good idea of what the listener will hear.

What can differ enormously is the sound of different rooms and the way your saxophone tone is affected by those rooms. With a big PA system in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing (ie they have good ears and have “tuned” the reinforced sound to counter anomalies in the room acoustics) then you have a fairly level playing field to compare a recorded sound with live. If it’s a bad PA or a small room and you have no sound reinforcement at all, then yes there can be quite a difference between what you hear recorded at home and what is perceived in that room.

Even so, I believe that sound of your playing to other people in most environments may well be closer to your recorded sound than it is to the sound you are hearing in your head once what is (a) entering your ears via waves in the air is combined with (b) vibrations through the mouthpiece material, teeth, gums, dental work etc.

As long as you take into account that there are so many variables everywhere and learn what they might be, you can start to do some analysis, but you’ve always got to take the conclusions with a reasonable pinch of salt because it’s impossible to do any proper scientific testing. Just turning 30 degrees towards a curtain in your practice room can (apparently) completely kill certain frequencies.

However your perception (no matter how subjective and variable) is absolutely important. I agree that reeds that sound bad to you usually sound absolutely fine recorded or to another person a few feet away. The important thing to me is that a reed (or indeed a saxophone/or mouthpiece) that sounds good to me is incredibly important as that is what inspires me to play better and practice for longer.

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