“Which mouthpiece, what kind of reeds should I play to get a voluminous sound?”
“My sax-hero XY plays this combination of reed and mouthpiece, but on my horn it doesn’t sound the same.”
I heard these phrases a thousand times. My answer is:”When I put on the same shoes as Usain Bolt, will I be the next world-champion? I don’t think so.”
So a great sound must have another origin than your set-up. But where does a cool sound come from?
Very important is the so-called “visualisation”. Some of you may know visualisation from meditation, martial arts and other sports.
Visualisation is nothing more than visualising special things like moves, tones and yes also colours and moods!
While doing the following exercises, imagine your whole body, from head to toe is one huge lung you can fill with air. Your lung-capacity and power to inhale and the amount of air being blown into your horn will be bigger, more stable and will have much more energy.
While exhaling imagine you filling the whole room you are in right now, with sound. Please don’t mix up filling a room with sound, by playing very loud. Also very soft tones fill a large hall with sound!
First of all you have to get a stable sound on the whole instrument. That means that you’re not playing fortissimo in the lower register, and in the high register one only hears a whistle-like tone. I have a quite easy exercise for you to terminate that problem: start singing!
Everyone has a voice. We can sing from your chest and if it gets very high up there we use the head voice.
Start with the deepest tone you can sing and sing a kind of scale from that tone up to the highest tone you are able to sing with your head voice. Please sing the scale in a glissando style, not judging whether it sounds like Pavarotti or not! And don’t feel embarrassed by your voice.
After singing, you play from the deepest tone on your instrument up to the highest tone possible.
The next step is to sing a scale over one or two octaves if possible and afterwards you play that scale on your instrument.
The singing-exercises will let you have and keep the position of your tongue and your vocal folds in the right position, all over your horn!
Doing these two little exercises will also help you improving your tone and they are fun too….believe me!
In my method-book “Sax-Workout” I’m working lot with visualisations when it comes to breathing and tone-quality.