BC304 - Basic Lip Slurs

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Posted by Daniel Christian on 17 Jan 15:45

Here Dan shows you how to perform a basic lip slur or note bend on Saxophone and gives you some exercises to practice them.

Lip Slurs and Note Bends

A saxophone lip slur refers to a slight dip in the pitch of a note, it is also sometimes referred to as a scoop.  They sound really cool!  But this revelation comes with a big but (as do most revelations for that matter) over using Lip slurs, even perfectly executed ones, is a BAD thing.  Use these in moderation for colour in your jazzed up scale or run.   Too much of anything becomes predictable and constant lip slurring can lead your listeners to believe that they are a bad habit rather than stylistic.  A note bend on the other hand refers to a note that has been drastically lowered in pitch usually by using your throat as well as your lip.  This is a dangerous business but can also lead to nice slides between notes to give an extra funky effect.   

You've already been a bit wobbly?

By now my free online saxophone course has given you a few pointers on getting started with vibrato.  The jaw movement that we use during vibrato holds the key to doing an effective lip slur. Lets just have a recap of vibrato.  When doing saxophone vibrato, you loosened off your bottom lip slightly then raised it back up or you use your finger to physically pull the lip downward.  You could say that you used a "Ya" type jaw movement to get your bottom lip wobbling.  Lets take that same "Ya" but this time turn it into an exaggerated "Yawww" try this while you have the mouthpiece attached and you're playing an A on your Saxophone.  Notice how the sound travels a lot further.  Next try an arpeggio on C so low c e g and then middle C.  On the middle C see if you can time a lip slur to hit the note lower (or flat) and then scoop the note up into pitch.  There you have it, the basics of lip slurs.  Now the higher the note the more effective your lip slur/scoop will be.

Note Bends - Coming in a later Video.

Practise Ideas

Practise Tip 1

Hold a long note and bring your jaw down in an exaggerated vibrato movement.  Experiment with how far you can pull the note downwards without it cracking.  Remember that the note should still sound good even though it is slightly flat!

Practise Tip 2

Experiment with moving your lip slur into a normal vibrato on different notes scattered around the instrument.

Practice Tip 3 

Play your different arpeggios and strategically place a lip slur on various notes.  How do they sound?  Are certain notes of the arpeggio more effective when used with a lip slur?

Good luck getting more wobbly - Dan

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