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There is no specific canon when it comes to the sound of the saxophone, and that’s because the instrument is widely used in various musical genres. It sounds completely different in jazz music, differently in classical music, differently pop, and still differently in rock music. Therefore, at the very beginning of our music education, we should determine what type of sound we would like to achieve and what sound we will strive for during our educational process. Of course, this does not mean that our search is to be limited to practicing one sound, especially if our interests relate to several musical genres.
How to make yourself sound
First of all, we should listen to a lot of those musicians whose sound we like and whose sound we follow ourselves. Having such a reference, we try to imitate such a sound by trying to copy it and transfer it to our own instrument. This will allow us to gain some habits and a whole workshop, thanks to which we will be able to work on our individual sound.
Elements influencing the sound of the saxophone
Such a basic decisive element influencing the sound of a saxophone is, of course, the type of instrument itself. We list four basic types of this instrument: soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone. Of course, there are even smaller and larger varieties of saxophone, the pitch of which depends on the size of the instrument. The next element influencing the sound is of course the brand and model. There will already be differences in the quality of the sound achieved, because each manufacturer offers budget school saxophones as well as those high-class professional instruments in which the obtained sound is more noble. Another element influencing the sound are the types of pillows. What are the pillows made of, whether they are leather or synthetic. Then the resonators are an important element, i.e. what the cushions are screwed on. The neck of the saxophone is very important. a pipe, which we can also exchange for another one and this will make our instrument sound different.
Mouthpieces and reed
The mouthpiece and reed are of great importance not only affecting the comfort of playing, but also the sound obtained. There is a wide range of mouthpieces to choose from: plastic, metal and ebonite. For starters, you can start learning with ebonite as it is simpler and requires less effort to produce the sound. At the mouthpiece, each element affects the sound of our instrument. Here, among other things, elements such as the chamber and the deflection are of great importance. When it comes to a reed, apart from the type of material it is made of, the type of cut and its hardness play an important role in shaping the sound. To a lesser extent, but also some indirect influence on the sound, the ligature, i.e. the machine with which we twist our mouthpiece with a reed, may have an impact.
Sound creation exercises
It’s best to start practicing on the mouthpiece and try to make long sounds that should be constant and should not float. The rule is that we take a deep breath and play one tone for the entire duration of the breath. In the next exercise, we try to play different heights on the mouthpiece itself, the best way is going down and up in whole tones and semitones. It’s good to do this exercise by working your larynx, as singers do. On the mouthpiece, the so-called open mouthpieces can really win a lot, because these mouthpieces have a very wide range in relation to closed mouthpieces. We can easily play scales, passages or simple melodies on the mouthpiece itself.
The next exercise is performed on a complete instrument and it will consist in playing long tones. The principle of this exercise is that these long notes should be played throughout the scale of the instrument, that is, from the lowest B to f 3 or higher if personal ability allows. At the beginning, we perform them trying to maintain an equal dynamic level. Of course, at the end of the breath, this level will start to drop by itself. Then we can do an exercise where we attack strongly at the beginning, then let go gently, and then do a crescendo, i.e. we systematically increase the volume.
Practicing overtones is another very important element that will help us find the sound we are looking for. Alikwoty, that is, we force our throat to work. We do this exercise on the three lowest lower notes, that is B, H, C. This exercise takes months of practice to get us to really do well, but it’s really great when it comes to creating the sound.
There are many elements to get the sound you want. First of all, you must not become a slave to the equipment and you should never argue that if you do not have a high-end instrument, you cannot play nicely. The instrument will not play by itself and it is mostly up to the instrumentalist how a given saxophone sounds. It is the man who creates and models the sound and it is from him that the most in this matter. Remember that the saxophone is just a tool to make it comfortable to play. Of course, the better a saxophone is made of a better alloy and better materials have been used to build it, the better and more comfortable it will be to play on such a saxophone, but the man always has a decisive influence on the sound.