Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Art of Sax

I've been meaning to write about my saxophone for sometime. Encouraged by a friend, I've been learning to play since 2001, at a time when I thought it was far too late for me to start learning. I remember being left alone in a practice room with this huge instrument and not really knowing one end from the other. I felt quite inept, but like with most things, a little practice helps a lot.



Yep, that's right, the art of sax is all about technique; developing a firm embouchure; knowing when to tongue gently and knowing when it's okay to blow hard.
Persons with a large oral cavity and a short tongue find that tip-to-tip tonguing is advantageous. - Larry Teal, The Art of Saxophone Playing.
Swift nimble fingering is also helpful for rapid fluid playing.
Anyhow, I'm still learning, I'm not brilliant, far from it - I've yet to master the mythical circular breathing [I still have to come up for air] and I can only growl by accident, but I do have strong lips....

35 comments:

BEAST said...

YAY FIRST

Its sounds marvellous training for any young Lady Miss Scarlet.

BEAST said...

All this talk of tongueing and fingering makes one want to get out ones instrument and give it a play
****searches for recorder***

MJ said...

I remember being left alone in a practice room with this huge instrument and not really knowing one end from the other. I felt quite inept, but like with most things, a little practice helps a lot.

Mistress MJ has been there, honey.

MJ said...

*clicks to enlarge pic and notices you have a "HisCox" case.

His Cox.

Geddit?

Miss Scarlet should remember to get dressed before she takes photos as we can see her nekkid reflection in the sax!

scarlet-blue said...

Mr Beastie: Indeed, sax playing should be taught in all the best finishing schools for young ladies.

MJ: Hiscox! I know... and Hiscox are the best and hardest cases.

Sx

Whirlochre said...

One thing I've always wondered about the sax — when you're done blowing, does liquid dribble out the end?

Geoff said...

Have you ever wound your way down a Baker Street?

Madame DeFarge said...

Maybe you could carry a piccolo in your handbag with which you could practice during the day? It would help your breath control and no-one need know.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Do you wet your lips before puckering them, Miss Scarlet? I've often wondered whether you prefer your sax wet or dry.

xl said...

Vibrato and sustain are valued techniques as well!


Oh Hai MJ!

savannah said...

i wish y'all well, sugar! the MITM plays alto, tenor and soprano;) xoxo

Emerson Marks said...

I trust Kenny G is off limits in your musical tastes, SB? He quite literally blows and sucks.

Jimmy Bastard said...

Typical.. always blowing your own trumpet.

I always pictured you more as a banjo player, especially with those six webbed fingers on each hand.

KAZ said...

WOW - I'm trying not to sound too impressed.
I heard that Hazel O'Connor on the radio yesterday. I love it and I loved the film. I wonder what happened to her.

scarlet-blue said...

Mr Whirly: Yes it does! It drips onto my feet. Especially after a very long blowing session.

Geoff: I have tried Baker Street. I think I need an awful lot more practice on it though... at present my version would make your ears bleed.

Madame D: Ah, funny you should say this as it is possible to practice with just the mouthpiece and crook... which do fit in a handbag...

Mr Bananas: I lick my lips and suck on my reed... but a wet sax makes a horrible gargling noise so I have to blow the gob out.

Mr XL: I am ashamed of my vibrato, but I can sustain! I have staying power...

Savannah: The MITM is greatly experienced! I think the tenor sax has a lovely sound... but it kind of swamps me, even an Alto looks big on me.

Mr Marks Kenny G is of his time I reckon. Here's Summertime by Kenny... I prefer a more bluesy version myself.

Mr Jimmy: Ouch!! Let's leave the trumpets out of it... they always try to take over all the tunes and they're all huff and puff...
I do also play the tambourine...

Sx

scarlet-blue said...

Kaz: Yep, I love this tune too, and the film. I found this about Hazel and apparently she appeared at Glastonbury last year!
Sx

Kevin Musgrove said...

I envy you the self-discipline. I always wanted to be able to play the sax but I'm too impatient even to learn the penny whistle (I still have the last one I bought and it's still got the dent where I threw it at the wall in frustration).

My circular breathing's not up to much, either: two minutes on the digeridoo and I'm knackered.

There now: that's me blathering because I'm trying to pretend I'm not impressed.

scarlet-blue said...

Kev: If I can do it then anyone can do it, Kev! Honestly, 10mins a day at first and build up from there.. I'd never even played the recorder before. Have a go if you fancy it... you'll be playing a tune within two-three weeks.. but the first few days are hell!
Sx

CyberPete said...

You should see Sabrina (boys boys boys) work the sax in her All of Me video. The beach version.

I'm sure she is skilled at blowing and her tongue action is not easiely dismissed.

scarlet-blue said...

Pete: Goodness me! It sounds like you have the hots for Sabrina... are you okay?
Glad to have you back!
Sx

mapstew said...

Ye have ta try the pipes me girl!

Gadjo Dilo said...

Yeh, Hazel O,Conner! I had that record once, and it's a great sax solo.

Dave said...

Thank goodness. At last an honest-to-goodness clean post with no hints of double entendre.

eroswings said...

How wonderful! Keep blowing and working those fingers on that instrument and you'll surely be an expert! I'm sure you all ready get requests for encore performances!

You're a woman of many talents!

scarlet-blue said...

Mr Maps: Hello and welcome!
The pipes? Well, now the pipes are a different kind of animal and I reckon they'd take even longer to master... and I'd probably upset my neighbours even more than I already do!
An interesting idea though...

Gadj: If I ever master the sax solo in Will You... well, I don't think I'd keep quiet about it.

Dave: What do you mean?!! All my posts are clean! You have a vivid imagination.

Mr Swings: Oh, I take many requests and I like improvising...

Sx

PI said...

I've always found sexophonists incredibly sexy - but they have always been men.

PI said...

BTW wasn't it Hazel O Connor who made the great 'Wall of Fire' or 'Ring of Fire' with Abe Edmonson way back when?

scarlet-blue said...

Pat: Did you mean Wheels on Fire? I looked it up and it was Ade Edmondson and Julie Driscoll. Great tune though!
Sx

Clyde said...

Magnificent oral training
Ya just have to learn to breath through your ears
Kenny G, eat your heart out

Crabbers said...

That's why the Belgian musicians started to play the saxophone?
To earn some silver!

How many saxophonists is it needed to change a blister?
Five: one to change it and four to admire how "Bird" would have made it.

What difference between a saxophone and clippers with turf?
the neighbours bawl when you do not return the clippers.

CyberPete said...

Thanks, glad to be back.

Good heavens no, not like that. No I liked her for the italo pop classics. Like a yoyo, all of me, sexy girl, hot girl, boys boys boys, my chico, get ready, yeah yeah yeah and not to forget gringo and dirty boy look

None of them had any sax in them but she made a song called Sex if that helps

PI said...

Scarlet you're a star. I've been googling and got Johnny Cash and the wrong song. I'm gong to listen to it now. Bless you.xoxo

scarlet-blue said...

Mr Clyde: Now ear breathing would be most helpful!

Crabbers: I'm sure my neighbours appreciate every note I abuse!
Je suis sûr que mes voisins apprécient chaque note je abus!

Pete: Hmmm... I spent sometime listening out for the sax on the Sabrina track... I will deal with you later...

Pat: That's okay Pat, pleased to be able to help!

Sx

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

You can thank a Belgian for the saxophone - Monsieur Adolphe Sax, there's a street named after him here in BXL. Try Rahsaan Roland Kirk's bluesy version of "The Entertainer" (aka The Sting). Nice.

scarlet-blue said...

Daphne: Thank you Daphne! I shall check out the link. Yep, Mr Sax was from Brussels. Another good reason to visit!
Sx