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Jazz Sax Lessons: Muted Tonguing

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Okay, now let's talk about a tonguing
technique that's not all
that widely taught, I guess.
I was trying to think if somebody
taught me this also back in school and
I don't know that anybody actually did.
So, you know,
this could be a first for you too.
And this is muted tonguing.
Let me play for
you what I mean by muted tonguing and
you'll probably hear it right away.
I am muting my
reed with my tongue.
Hence the title muted tonguing.
So let me explain to you how to do that.
In a nutshell,
very simply all I'm really doing
is deadening part of the reed
with part of my tongue.
So, in my case,
I am taking the left side of my tongue,
left side of the tip of my tongue,
the front of my tongue, and
muting the opposite side of the reed.
So, I'm basically deadening
one part of the tip of the reed and
still allowing the other side to vibrate.
Now that's how I'm doing it,
that's how I was made.
So perhaps it works more easily
if you're using the other side.
So for me again I'm using this side of
my tongue, my left side and hitting
the opposite side of the reed, the right
side of the reed as I'm looking at it.
Maybe it'll work better for
you on the other side, it doesn't for me.
So and then, right down the pipe too,
if I'm playing.
Now pretty much I was gonna say that maybe
it's just you're muting the whole reed and
that we're leaving the reed
on the mouth piece but no.
You saw my experiment just now.
It definitely works better on one side or
the other.
Maybe not drastically, it's something
that you gotta experiment with
to see which is gonna be
the most comfortable.
I can tell you right now that
if you haven't done this before,
no position gonna feel comfortable.
You're gonna feel that vibration,
just like you did when you first started
playing on your bottom lip, the very first
day you put a saxophone in your mouth.
So, that's basically how you do it.
Understand though, that when you're
using a muted tongue, it's not only
about the attack, or the initial sound
of the mute, of the reed being muted,
but it's also the release of the attack,
release of the attack.
So a release, yeah, of the attack.
So the trick of this with all my students
is how much tongue to put on your reed.
How much of the reed should be muted?
You know so part of it is not vibrating.
You know for us right now I want
you to be listening to me and
you know hear how much I'm doing it.
And be aware that
there's different.
Obviously, I can mute the reed more.
Or mute it a lot less.
We really, really add a nice subtle thing.
But it's a very important articulation
in your articulation arsenal to have.
Like if you're playing a line.
The note, the penultimate
note right before the last note.
I'm actually,
that note is not actually
coming out entirely.
I'm muting that entire whole, that whole
note and releasing for the last note.
Bo do do do den ba.
Bo den ba.
Bo den ba.
Bo den ba.
That's a good exercise actually.
So in that case the articulation
becomes an active articulation,
part of your lines.
So it's good to be able to play
one note with a muted tongue,
but it's also to be able to
actively use it within a line.
So as far as a mute is concerned it's
a good idea just to do what I was
doing originally.
Play one note,
a nice open C sharp.
And gain control of it, okay?
To the point where it sounds, there's
a real definite distinction between
the muted sound and the open sound.
Do do lu, do lu, do lu du lu.
And then as far as actively
using it in a line.
The way I'm doing that with the triplets,
anyway, is analyzing
the first three notes.
I'm tonguing the first note
I'm putting the tongue
back on the reed for
the second note to mute.
And I'm releasing for the third note.
Try that.
I'm playing but no matter what horn
you're playing try A, C, and D.
So again,
on the second note I'm tonguing it, but
I'm leaving my tongue on
the side of the reed to mute it.
And then I'm releasing for the third note.
do that with me.
It's C, I'm sorry A, C, D,.
So, [NOISE] and [NOISE] and
one and two and three.
And like with any other articulation,
you wanna make sure that your air is,
if you haven't got your
air pushing that reed,
you're muting half of it.
It's stressing to reed it and so
it's It needs some extra
help to continue to vibrate.
So it's not gonna work unless you've
got that air pushing into the reed,
into the mouthpiece and
supporting that reed so
it can continue to vibrate,
even though half of it is being muted.
So there you go.
If you got any questions
like with all of these,
please shoot me a video and
of you doing that.
It's a very,
very cool important articulation to have.
So happy practicing.
Don't let your tongue get too
buzzy like mine is right now.
Okay, have fun muting your tongue.