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How to Growl on the Saxophone

Mr. Reggie, Instructor of Saxophone at LAAPA will teach you how to growl when playing "Careless Whisper" as well as James Brown's "I Feel Good". This technique works on alto, tenor, bari or any saxophone as well as the clarinet!

Learn how to Growl on the Saxophone

- contributed by Reggie S.

(00:07): Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Reggie Smith and I'm here with Louisiana Academy of Performing Arts, and we're going to be doing another lagniappe lesson. Today, we're going to be talking about the growl technique, so let's get ready. All right. The growl technique is like this. Well, that's the growl technique, alone with some other stuff, but we're going to get to the growl technique. And what we're going to do is we're going to make it very, very simple. All right. How to do this? Very simple. We're going to hum while we're playing. So you're going to first blow, and as you're blowing, you're going to... Right? Let's try it. So first, before you establish the technique, you want to play into your horn, and then add the technique. So I'm going to play first.

(01:10): So I don't know if you can hear, but I'm humming just a little bit. And the humming is going to distort the air just enough to where it makes it raspy. So that is, in a nutshell, how to do the raspy technique. Well, when do I use a raspy technique? Well, you're going to use the raspy technique when it comes to using a lot of stressantes in music. You're going to hear it a lot in blues. You're going to hear a lot in rock and roll. You're going to hear a lot in gospel music because that's how we add tension in the music, regardless of if it's exciting or if it's just a lot of stress that you want to add. It's another color that we can use in texture when it comes to playing. So ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to give a few examples of the growl technique in action. You might've heard this before.

(02:23): Or maybe some James Brown. So ladies and gentlemen, as you can hear, playing with the raspy tone can be a lot of fun. So be creative when you use it, use it in your practice for your scales, use it in your chords, use it in your articulations. So that way, when you come to use it, you can be creative and use it whenever you want to and not just in a particular mode or in a particular style, or just one time when a song just to show off what you got. Make it a technique that you can use and pull out anytime. All right. So thank you for tuning in and we'll catch you next time. All right. So practice hard.

Want to learn more about the saxophone? Check out the link to our Saxophone Lessons homepage below!

More About Saxophone Lessons

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