fingers and tongue

The sound, radiating from the air column, appears as the material to be worked out, and actually sculpted by the articulation resulting from your fingers and your tongue, which come up together in this process as the physical link between your sender-body and your amplifier-instrument :

– your fingers interact with the instrument from the initial emission (for the note pitch), and are driven by your musical intent, as Dominique Hoppenot recalls it in her Inner Violin / Le violon intérieurbefore your tongue interacts, without disturbing this first note ;

– then, only the light tip of your tongue (Joe Allard would rather talk about the edge) is necessary for detaching notes, withdrawing backwards and aligned with the reed : the tongue edge lets the reed vibrate, which you must feel and visualize in your belly bottom.

The dynamics of this musical sculpture results in the end from the complementarity of those components of your speech : your musical idea (shaped in your brain and driving the next steps, as George Kochevitsky explains it in his Art Of Piano Playing), the sound vibration, your fingering, your tongue acuteness.


The first sound is played without the tongue, thanks to the back muscles ; the following one extends it by letting the tongue lain down.

Robert Pichaureau, Favorite Expressions
(translated by Guy Robert)


We would begin the tone with no tongue, get very loud and while the note was still going on, he’d have us barely articulate. We would touch the reed as lightly as possible, so that the tongue would interrupt the vibration of the reed without stopping it, teaching us to barely tongue. He’d have us practice it loud so that we’d learn to use a light articulation even though we were playing loud.

Lots of students tongue hard when they play loud ; Joe’s exercise separated that.

Kenneth Radnofsky about Joe Allard


Allard preferred the nomenclature “edge“ rather than tip, because “tip means an extreme point“. He purported that speech books with which he was familiar described the tongue as having an edge and a blade, the blade being the surface of the tongue.

Debra Jean McKim about Joe Allard


The actual sounding of the articulation comes with the release of the reed. Conceptually, the tongue can be seen as an extension of the reed.

David LiebmanDeveloping a Personal Saxophone Sound

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*