highs and lows

A Deep Sound In The Highs

The broad breathing allows the sound column to vibrate homogeneously over the whole tessiture.

Upper And Lower

The low pitch vibration spreads in the ground and in space from your posture stabilized on your roots, as if you were sitting on the sound source. 

Keeping concentrated on this balanced position, you release then your whole body at the very end of your exhaling, to let your spontaneous inhaling come in, maintaining this fat and low voice vibrating on the « ah » vowel, or on another open vowel, as Patrick Bartley shows it by singing in his saxophone.

Patrick Bartley about vowelling
(11:35 Voicing – Singing)
© YouTube – Patrick Bartley

You develop this fat and vibrating sound from practicing the overtones control, as recommended by Joe Allard and by David Liebman.

You can quietly play upper notes in the pitch range, reaching the higher register and the related overtones, still driving this low vibration, and above all, without modifying anything between your embouchure and your diaphragm : any unwanted alteration of the sound must be avoided by letting loose and relaxing down to your breathing center point, even reaching down to your heels !

Doing so, the high register sound can be kept rich and homogeneous by extending the downwards feeling to your roots : keep thinking low in the highs !

This way, and counter to some misconceptions, carefully dismissed by Alfred Tomatis in The Ear And The Voice, (see the sound source), you ensure the sound fullness by maintaining this body configuration of your air column and of your embouchure throughout the whole range : among other benefits, this brings a gratifying comfort feeling and allows easier playing legato and articulation between distant notes of the tessiture.

« Musically, you go up and down, but physically you must always go down. The pitfall is that a sound may look nice but not be a good one. »

Robert Pichaureau, Expressions favorites (Translated by Guy Robert)

« Thanks to the work achieved (low and fat breathing, vertical pushing), you can now play much more backwards, so you can avoid playing your way up when you hit high notes.

(…) You are going to learn how to feel down in order to better go up. (…) But you should obviously never go back up !

Always pack down and vertically push down. »

Michel Ricquier, Traité de pédagogie instrumentale (Translated by Guy Robert)

« Low note articulation and tone production are two of the subtle challenges confronting saxophonists, as is the opposite problem of the tendency to go sharp in the high register. A saxophonist should not sound like he has a different tone for each register. The overtone matching process may go on for years. »

David Liebman, Developing a Personal Saxophone Sound

vibrate effortlessly

Anticipating the vibration of the sound column fosters your verticality and brings a rich and consistent voice throughout the tessiture, amplified by your instrument : the invariance of this body attitude ensures an easy emission of lower and higher notes as well.

« Laryngeal vibrations form fundamental tones, while the harmonic shower of sparks associated with the fundamentals, rich in higher frequencies and reinforcing the initial sound considerably, depends on the skeleton. »

« There are many advantages to the activation of this bony resonance. The energy that is dispensed is extremely important. Ample, warm, dense sounds are made with minimum effort.

It takes some work to get the feeling of ascending the scale without expending any energy at all. You have to learn to differentiate between the kind of energy that seems necessary to rise in pitch, and tension in the larynx.

It is easy to confuse going up in pitch, with its attendant naturally increasing intensity, with the need to employ effort, which is entirely unrelated. The intensity of sound comes from avoiding any pushing, so that the larynx is free to drop slightly lower. (…) the sensation of support will shift lower in the body at the same time.»

Alfred Tomatis, The Ear And The Voice

listen to your enjoyment

The homogeneity of the sound material to be sculpted makes the whole pitch range available to your fingers’ work (combined with your tongue) : on this ground, the musician’s personal speech takes advantage of the spectral richness of the overtones of his internal vibration, hovering over the difficulties related to low or high notes.

« The player who genuinely listens, that is to say, listens to both what he wants to play and what he played, is confident to master its sound (…)»

« Once you found your wide, colorful and relaxed sound, which may go unscathed from the most extreme fortissimo to the most intimate pianissimo, and able to carry all the richest emotions of the human soul into these extreme shades, then you have found yourself, which leads you to an unrivaled joy (…)»

Dominique Hoppenot, Le violon intérieur (Translated by Guy Robert)

During that process, as Robert Pichaureau used to say, “You should behave like a statue ! “ and “Mastering your internal vibration is a treat“. This way, you realize how practicing your instrument brings you enjoyment and self-confidence.

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