To ensure a clean and flawless emission, either fff or ppp – and without using the tongue edge for the first one ! -, you should precisely imagine the mouthpiece rim plugged to the sound source. By keeping the air column open downwards, thanks to the perfect trunk relaxation from your natural breathing source, your exhaling extends your inhaling inwards and propagates the sound down to the ground.
Thanks to his proprioceptive pictures, the music player drives his relaxation down to his sound center (i.e. his natural breathing center point) from where his internal vibration arises : from that point, his transverse abdominus pushes backwards the vibrating exhalation, ensuring then the full dynamics and the stability of the sound.
That was meant by Beniamino Gili when he used to drop his belly down to the ground in order to capture and maintain this feeling all along the emission of his sound, without disturbing the action of the diaphragm (see voice and breathing).
In other words, the voice of the musician must play his body’s resonance, without addressing it directly, so as to avoid parasite contractions.
You should certainly not blow at this point, because you are already sitting on the air, with full confidence, and you readily play without any blowing noise disturbing the emitted sound : actually, either your tongue is not active, lying still in the back of your mouth, or it moves backwards from the mouthpiece rim to let the reed vibrate. There, you actually sing, using as little air as possible, and making out that actual playing implies no blowing (in French, “Souffler n’est pas jouer“).
George Kochevitsky shows in his Art Of Piano Playing how you should forget about any apparent physical motion, in order to enhance the quality of the result of your musical intent. You sure must not blow, since the air is not to be pushed out, but you rather do sing internally and downwards, as Alfred Tomatis demonstrates it in The Ear And The Voice : the vibrating air is warm, and that can be felt by feeling the sax neck, which can even be considered as an evidence for your fat and lived-on sound quality, spreading in the ground through your feet.
Dominique Hoppenot‘s Inner Violin also reveals in its way your inner and downward singing.
In your true sound, which was not worked out yet, you can find all colors, vibrations and overtones : your sound is lived through, it is not worked out.
(translated by Guy Robert)
You should imagine your embouchure in your belly.
Feel like playing inside your body.
Your breath flows inwards, certainly not the other way around.
Your instrument will play you.
The singing breath is enough.
If you don’t vibrate, then your breath is not warm enough.
Your breath should flow out through your ears.
Your breath should flow out through your neck.
You should feel as if your breath flows out from your whole body, but not from front.
Robert Pichaureau Favorite Expressions
(translated by Guy Robert)
Finally, years later, I realized the importance of Joe’s exercises and explanations : the “fat“ bottom lip, the abdominal breath, the “e“ position for the back of the tongue, anchor tonguing for the tip and more.
These were guiding principles and once understood, it meant that you were playing the saxophone as intended, as an extension of your voice, not as some separate piece of brass that you fingered.
David Liebman, Remembering the Master
Don’t play the saxophone. Let it play you.