Chromatic Tonguing

Dear Spence:

Is that "Mostly Water" as in "Ugly bags of mostly water" by any
chance? (a Star Trek joke, for those who are wondering - this is
how humanoids are described by a race of crystalline life forms).

To answer your question about tonguing notes, the answers for
jazz and for classical are diametrically opposed. Simply stated,
the distinction is this:

In jazz, unless otherwise indicated, notes are to be phrased
together (i.e., not individually tongued) unless you're
deliberately playing staccato as suggested by the rhythm, or
there are markings of some kind, like staccato (.) or tenuto (_)
above the individul notes. Tonguing is almost a special effect.

In classical, unless otherwise indicated by phrasing slurs or
indications like "legato," notes are to be played as discrete
entities - tongued, in the case of wind instruments. As you
rightly note, this is obviously not practical in the case of
trills and very fast passage work

In terms of the basic performance practices of jazz and classical
music (by the way, both of these contain numerous historical and
regional substyles with sharply contrasting performance
practices), tonguing has no relation to whether you are changing
breath or hole as you move from one note to the next, but there
is an important phrasing benefit to be realized through tonguing
in some instances (I detailed this in the chromatic workshop in
HIP No. 3).

By tonguing the FIRST note of a two-note group that involves a
breath change (i.e. you're playing blow G followed by draw A, and
you tongue the G) you can create a GREATER disruption in the
tonguing that makes the breath change sound smooth by comparison.
You can tongue normally- nothing exaggerated. I know this sounds
crazy but it works. I got it from Robert Bonfiglio by way of Paul
Farmer, an Australian player.

On the chromatic, legato (smooth progression from one note to the
next with no discernible break in continuity) is disrupted every
time you change the direction of your breath. Which the tuning
pattern forces you to do a lot. So legato is like gold, and
certainly I wouldn't make a practice of stopping the breath every
time you move the slide. One cool thing about slide changes is
that they DON'T break up the legato. If you move the slide too
slowly, you'll get two notes at once, a semitone apart (this was
used very effectively once in a western soundtrack), but as long
as you move it normally, there's no reason to stop the breath.

If you're listening and thinking with this kind of attention, I
don't think you're in much danger of developing "sloppy" or
"weak" technique, as you seem to fear. Listen to how the music
sounds when the experts play it, then listen to the sound you
make. Generally, at a good music library, or even with a couple
of good books, you can read up on the performance practices of
the style you want to learn, and this will help clarify practices.

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