I just got some new sheet-music for alto sax and wonder how to play this notation:
For example in these contexts:
Thanks for every helpful answer!
To follow up Wheat's definition answer, here's how I would play this:
When playing glisses on wind instruments, especially in a contemporary or jazz context, the change in pitch should be as continuous as possible. In contrast, a piano is only capable of playing absolutely defined pitches, so glisses all sound like a fast scale (chromatic or otherwise).
All wind instruments have ways of "fudging" glisses so that they sound continuous instead of just like a fast chromatic scale. Trumpet players, for example, would use half-valves in many cases, and clarinets can partially cover tone holes. Saxophone is a bit trickier since all of the tone holes are keyed, but there is quite a lot you can do with the embouchure to bend a pitch. The playing technique for this kind of gliss on saxophone will involve a mixture of embouchure bend and fingering, and the emphasis should be on the embouchure. For experienced players, it's not even imperative that you be fingering a chromatic scale instead of something that falls easier under the fingers, because the embouchure should be able to cover the missing ground anyway.
This takes a VERY well-developed embouchure, however, and a lot of practice. If you're just starting out, focus on making the chromatic scale clean and even, and practice embouchure bends separately before adding them in.
The first example is a glissando. Wikipedia defines this as "A continuous, unbroken glide from one note to the next that includes the pitches between."
The second example is a fall-off, meaning to glissando downward in pitch to an unspecified point (you choose how far to go), possibly with a rapid decrescendo to silence.
My answer starts with (and assumes) the definition of glissando provided by @Wheat Williams And basically disagrees with the first (currently accepted) answer by @NReilingh
I have read many jazz saxophone charts and upon seeing these 2 snippets you've shown, I would not be using embouchure at all.
The definition of a "gliss" doesn't suggest it nor does this particular example require it.
Taking your 2nd snippet, it is very natural to start at the A (2 fingers held down) and roll the remaining fingers down to D (6 fingers held down) while allowing the volume to decrease. This is what I would do upon seeing this.
No embouchure change required.
In your 1st snippet (with a high D down to B) - this happens to work well with the fingering on a sax, in that it's easily possible to slide down chromatically from high D down to B - and this is a very natural gliss to play.
Once again, most definitely, no embouchure changes required (or desirable)
I've never used embouchure to play a gliss and I don't believe it's actually correct to do so - hence I believe @NReilingh's quote is wrong & that you should never use the embouchure when playing a gliss. Using the embouchure to drop from a note has a separate way of being notated ,after all.