Gonna give classical a go
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  1. #1
    Elecmuso's Avatar
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    Default Gonna give classical a go

    I studied classical piano as a kid in the 70s, later jazz piano at the conservatorium in the 90s. Having the classical piano up my sleeve was an advantage (on the other hand never having prior jazz lessons, unlike many of the younger students, was a disadvantage!).

    This time I've come back to saxophone from the other direction having taken it up again about 5 years ago. So I'm going to see how I go with classical saxophone at least as an exercise in technique - for me classical performance is not the aim.

    So I have the 'AMEB' technical book. I can play the notes of all the scales, arpeggios etc. up to 8th grade, admittedly some are rough and some need to be played at a lesser tempo.

    I'm just 'putting it out there' so some of the classical people around here might suggest some classical tunes (and no I'm not suggesting I start at 8th grade!). There may be some in the public domain.

    Also there are some technique issues I already have, probably due to being slack in my practice routines.

    Here's a couple of technique questions:
    1. Is it OK to use a fairly open mouthpiece for classical saxophone? I use a reasonably open mouthpiece with a baffle (metalite M7)
    2. Tonguing quickly. I find that at the faster tempos required I cannot tongue at the rate required (4 notes per 108). Is double tonguing required? Or do I just need to practice? Tips?

    Anyway that's a start. No doubt I've already asked some dumb questions!

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Gonna give classical a go

    You can use any mouthpiece for classical that you want, as long as it enables you to achieve:
    • A good classical tone
    • Excellent intonation
    • Mastery of dynamics, especially p and pp
    • Smooth articulation

    Most players find that a mouthpiece specifically intended for classical playing is the best route to take. You'll have to judge your own situation. Eventually, you may want to find a teacher or experienced classical player to critique your tone (or you can just compare yourself to a lot of professional recordings, which is generally what I do). I think your goal should be to produce a "performance quality" tone even if you don't plan to do any performing; it's much more enjoyable to play classical music when it sounds good to the player himself.

    You already seem to be having difficulty with item 4 on this list, but whether that's attributable to the mouthpiece or lack of practice, or both, I can't say. But I would recommend working a lot on single-tonguing before considering whether to attempt double-tonguing. Don't let the tail wag the dog. Advanced but limited-purpose techniques are much less important than overall sound concept and musical interpretation.

    On the "what to play?" question, see these threads:
    http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthr...al-development
    http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthr...axophone-Books

  3. #3
    Elecmuso's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gonna give classical a go

    Thanks! Yes that was the sort of info I was after. Cheers.

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    Default Re: Gonna give classical a go

    For an overview of classical equipment and technique, this video by the Army Field Band saxophonists is great. Lots of excellent tips!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE8c_Z4g0-s

  5. #5
    Distinguished SOTW Member CarlHeanerd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gonna give classical a go

    Quote Originally Posted by Elecmuso View Post
    I'm just 'putting it out there' so some of the classical people around here might suggest some classical tunes (and no I'm not suggesting I start at 8th grade!). There may be some in the public domain.

    There's a lot out there, saxophone has one of the biggest libraries of repertoire of any instrument (it's a shame most of it is pretty bad). To wade through our library, you will really want to find a teacher, but I have a few suggestions for the basics. For developing tone, start with Eugene Bozza's "Aria." For tonguing technique, look for Raschèr's arrangement of the Henri Eccles Sonata. For technique, look into Hite etudes and Ferling's 48 Studies.

    Here's a couple of technique questions:
    1. Is it OK to use a fairly open mouthpiece for classical saxophone? I use a reasonably open mouthpiece with a baffle (metalite M7)

    I am going to paint in broad strokes here and risk sounding obtuse, but in general, no. I see the M7 is quite open at .090", I would suggest trying something more medium in tip opening like a Vandoren A28, AL4, Selmer S80 C*, or S90 190. Try to find something that works well with a number 3 or 3.5 classically cut reed. There are many many more options out there so be sure to look around. Anyway, having these big tip openings can adversely affect evenness of tone and response, plus, give articulation quirks. As Sigurd Raschér would say, "When you add something, you take something else away."

    2. Tonguing quickly. I find that at the faster tempos required I cannot tongue at the rate required (4 notes per 108). Is double tonguing required? Or do I just need to practice? Tips?

    There are many exercises out there, but the first place to start is doing scales with articulations. Pick up Jean-Marie Londeix's book, "Les Gammes Conjointes et en Intervalles," it includes scales both diatonically and intervallicaly with a helpful articulation worksheet. In addition to this, practice doing short bursts of tonguing as fast as you can, like two notes. Try to extend to three notes, four notes, six notes, you get the idea. Finally, try the Kynaston method of tonguing in increasingly rapid rhythms such as quarters, eighths, triplets, sixteenths, etc. I can continuously tongue at around 138, which is considered to be a good point to be in classical world.
    My responses are embedded above!
    Soprano: Selmer Paris Series III w/ "Tone Booster" Curved Neck • Selmer Paris S90 170 + Vandoren Traditional 3.5 • Selmer Paris Silver Ligature
    Alto: Selmer Paris Series II w/ "Tone Booster" Neck
    • Selmer Paris S80 C* + D'Addario Reserve 3.0+ • Ishimori GP Ligature
    Tenor: Yamaha Custom EX w/ G3 Neck
    • Selmer Paris S90 190 + D'Addario Reserve 3.0+ •
    Vandoren M/O Ligature

    www.heaneymusic.com


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    Default Re: Gonna give classical a go

    I agree with Carl's responses above, but would chime in with perhaps trying a Sigurd Rascher mouthpiece.

  7. #7
    Elecmuso's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gonna give classical a go

    Thanks all! Will check out some of those studies.

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