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Basic Tongue Techniques

Learn basic tongue techniques to play the sax in this Howcast video.


Hey, this is Troy Roberts and I'm going to talk about basic tonguing techniques for the alto saxophone. Tonguing a note is essentially starting a note with the tongue on the reed, giving it a beginning really. Your obvious way is to block the air flow and then start the airflow with your tongue. When playing scales not staccato but articulated, it's important to keep the air flow constant, so the tongue now starts and stops the reed, not the air flow. Just from under here, like that. You should hear the airflow still continue. You hear the air continuing and the note starting and stopping.

Another way of tonguing is very staccato where you're actually stopping and starting the airflow. There's another tonguing technique called slap tongue, which is almost another way of articulating is very staccato where you're actually blocking the airflow and starting the note with a heavy attack. You hear no airflow in between there. That's generally called something like staccato.

Another tonguing technique is slap tonguing, which is the feeling of smacking out a low note but not following through with the air. It's kind of a tricky technique, but it's one of those things like riding a bicycle. Once you've got it, you've got it, but it's tricky to get there. It's almost like heavily articulating a low note, but not following through. It's really just a pocket of air happening in your mouth. That's a slap tongue attack, or it's another form of articulation.

There's also another, I'm not sure if there's a technical word for this, but I kind of call it my half tonguing a note, which is where you kind of mute a note, the airflow is still going, but you've got your tongue on the reed but still producing a note. This is what it sounds like. That can kind of emulate what trumpet plays call doodle tonguing.

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