Take the 2-minute tour ×
Musical Practice & Performance Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I just got some new sheet-music for alto sax and wonder how to play this notation: enter image description here

For example in these contexts:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Thanks for every helpful answer!

share|improve this question
5  
Glissando. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_musical_symbols –  slim May 1 '13 at 9:30
    
Thanks for that! I've only looked on the German wiki page. Unfortunately this is missing there. –  E. Lüders May 1 '13 at 9:39
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

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.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks for this great answer! –  E. Lüders May 1 '13 at 20:41
    
Thanks, NReilingh. I am not a reed player. I know the definitions but you know how to execute them. –  Wheat Williams May 1 '13 at 20:57
add comment

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

NReilingh says:

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.

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.

share|improve this answer
    
FurryToes, thanks for your answer! It sounds very interesting and this way it seems to be easier to play a glissando. Maybe you can provide an example for your statement that using the embouchure to drop from a note is notated different. –  E. Lüders May 10 '13 at 6:46
add comment

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.

share|improve this answer
1  
As both a reed and (bowed) string player, I take exception to Wikipedia here. Strictly speaking, glissando is what you can do on a piano, i.e. stream distinct notes. Portamento is what string players can do by sliding their fingers along the string, producing a continuous delta frequency. That said, I understand that most jazz and jazz-esque music expects a "gliss" to be more of the latter. –  Carl Witthoft May 14 '13 at 19:28
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.