06. Don’t play-in-sy-lla-bles

You can very well compare articulation on saxophone with speaking; and with the latter we have a lot of experience. One of the many possibilities of the saxophone is that you can do almost anything that you also do with your voice. Loud, whispering, screaming, many variations in articulation (from staccato to legato) and sustain. Your sound can vary from warm, aggressive, sultry to intense.

But for many, the articulating is not so easy. It often sounds a bit uncontrolled. This is mainly due to the starting of the tone and the breath support. I tend to point out that one should connect the notes together, also when not playing legato; just like when we are talking. This is called portato (non legato). A good definition of portato is that the notes are being tongued lightly and slightly separated.

If you start the note too hard or if your tongue sticks to the reed for too long, it will sound like you are play-ing-in-sy-lla-bles. A good breath support can help you with that. Between the notes you have to keep the air pressure on just like when you speak. To me, it feels like I keep blowing my tongue away from the reed. Think about a bagpipe. The player keeps constant pressure on the bag by pressing it. When we speak, we also keep the pressure on constantly.

You can observe the impact of your breath support on your speaking; it functions flawlessly.

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