The techniques and elements that impact the quality and characteristics of the tone a musician creates are multifaceted on just about every instrument. For example, how a guitarist plucks the strings with their picking hand and how they apply pressure to the strings with their fretting hand affects the tone they produce greatly.
Wind instruments are no different. How the musician pushes air into the horn from the diaphragm, how they contract the muscles in their throat, and the amount of pressure they apply on the mouthpiece all play a role in the quality of their tone. Saxophones are no exception to this rule.
In this online saxophone lesson, Grammy Award-winning saxophonist, lead alto chair of Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, and former member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band, Eric Marienthal, teaches the ins and outs of what goes into producing a truly great tone on the saxophone. In addition to outlining all the performance elements that impact the quality of tone a saxophonist produces, Eric also provides a handful of exercises that you can practice to help improve your tone on the saxophone.
“When it comes to tone on the saxophone, everything comes down to how the reed vibrates,” Eric explains. “This is what I’m thinking about when I’m working on refining my own tone, and when I’m working with my students like you. How the reed is vibrating should be at the forefront of our minds.”
The more the reed can vibrate on your saxophone, the more sound you’ll be able to produce. Now, more sound if it is uncontrolled does not equate to a better tone. The trick is to find the balance between producing a lot of sound and letting the reed vibrate at its maximum potential while still having complete control over the instrument, your volume, your articulation, and musical inflections.
“There are three elements that are important as far as making sure that your reed is vibrating correctly,” explains Eric. “Those three things are your embouchure, your throat, and your diaphragm — all of which we’ll be discussing in this lesson.”
Producing a Great Tone with Eric Marienthal:
Have you always wanted to learn how to play the jazz saxophone? Through our comprehensive saxophone lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Eric Marienthal, and get personal feedback on your playing.
Eric’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner saxophone to advanced performance techniques, improvisation methods, jazz standards, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as saxophonists and musicians.