Thoughts and idea on how to improve my legato.

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imsevimse
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:43 am
Location: Sweden

Thoughts and idea on how to improve my legato.

Post by imsevimse » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:59 am

Hallo!

My vacation started yesterday and I will be free for four weeks from my job as a programmer. I'm going to use it essentially for two things. 1)Take care of my house and my plot and 2) for practice.

Since Friday, I have practiced every day at least four hours and hopefully I will continue to do this. A huge difference to what I usually do because I do not even practice every day during the rest of the year.

Now I need some pressure, and I'm writing this because if that.

For this summer my ambition is to improve my legato. I thought I could post what I practice and how it goes, and to post audio files to get criticism. I have noticed that this brought me forward earlier so I hope for the same result now.

So this thread is to improve my legato 😊

What I currently focus on to achieve this is to play Swedish folk songs. They are often in minor and lend themself very well to be performed without accompaniment. I recently discovered they are great to practice my legato.

I choose one and play it without the sheet music in all keys, both with and without vibrato. At some point during the day I also record and inspect how I'm doing.

My discovery up to now is that I have to improve the smoothness so that legato between notes in different overtones, that is, by stepwise motion upward as the slide moves outwards must sound more similar to those that are in the same harmonic series when the slide moves inwards.

I visualize this as a picture where the change of overtone, when pulling the slide outwards is like lifting the tone over a threshold to a higher floor. To do it smoothly, it becomes easier if I lie fairly close to the threshold before crossing so that I only lift a little bit just enough so the tone comes up and over the threshold. In the opposite direction when I go stepwise down, it becomes smoother if I do not let the tone fall down after the threshold as I step down and the slide moves inwards and the stream breaks the harmonic series.

One consequence will be that I'm very close to the next tone I'm going to and coming from, thus avoiding the break that would otherwise be heard when the overtone barrier is crossed. To think like this seems to help me.

I hope you understand this. It is not easy to explain this in Swedish so I'm very interested if you understand what I'm talking about and if you have thoughts about this.

Thoughts?

/Tom
Last edited by imsevimse on Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:09 am, edited 3 times in total.
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
hyperbolica
Posts: 146
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:31 am

Re: Thoughts and idea on how to improve my legato.

Post by hyperbolica » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:26 am

I'd do a combination of things. Exercises and playing your songs, in a more natural setting.

The typical Remington lip slurs are a great place to start, but the master of this stuff was really Marstellar. Work through his book. Lip slurs are of course changing partials with use of air and chops only, no tongue. The goal is to make them smooth and accurate, with increasing speed.

Some others here were students of John Swallow. I think there were other teachers who promoted this style as well. You can approach it like a game. The rules are fairly simple. Learn alternate positions, including trigger alternates. Don't "gliss" (move the slide in the same direction as the change in pitch) more than 1 position at a time. So to go from G to Bb, you'd go from 4th to 5th, getting the natural slur rather than from 4th to 1st, which is just a sloppy mess. Practice avoiding 1st position for a month. Practice air attacks, without tongue. Swallow ran me through all 3 Rochut books doing this, as well as the LaFosse Bach cello suites, Teleman Flute fantasies, Top Tones for Trumpet, and I forget all the books and other stuff we went through. I found the Marstellar stuff later, and the exercises in that book fit Swallows style nicely.

This is the kind of thing that you could spend all summer or more on. The exercises are great, but really applying it to your folk songs or the cello suites will solidify your grasp on this kind of thing. With all of this, start slow, and build speed until its musical, and maybe go a little beyond what you think is strictly musical, just to know you've got it under your belt.
Kbiggs
Posts: 55
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2018 11:46 am
Location: Vancouver WA

Re: Thoughts and idea on how to improve my legato.

Post by Kbiggs » Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:35 am

Jay Friedman has some great ideas and approaches to legato which I’ve found helpful. He talks about air, slide movement, and concepts. Here’s a few of his posts:

http://jayfriedman.net/articles/legato_ ... _arms_race
http://jayfriedman.net/articles/legato_ ... recordings
http://jayfriedman.net/articles/shifting_gears
http://jayfriedman.net/articles/slurs_and_sound

I know there’s lots of others. Just a place to start. BTW, I like your use of memorized folksongs to play. Because you know the tune, you can turn up the dial of the listening and analysis part of your brain a little bit while you play.
I have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.
—Mark Twain (attributed)
Doug Elliott
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Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:12 pm

Re: Thoughts and idea on how to improve my legato.

Post by Doug Elliott » Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:30 am

Practice with no tongue, trying to make it totally smooth as if singing with no articulation. Then when you add the tongue back in, keep that smoothness with constant airflow and sound, no bumps either up or down, slide moving in, out, or still. You have to really listen closely and keep everything in total control.
blast
Posts: 96
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:46 am

Re: Thoughts and idea on how to improve my legato.

Post by blast » Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:41 am

I like simple ideas..... when my students are having legato issues, I tell them to think about keeping playing a note right up to the new note... keep blowing.... you then find slide movement will need to be quick and articulation will become quick and neat.
Just remember to keep playing a note right up to the next..... everything else follows on.... simple.

Chris
afugate
Posts: 49
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:47 am

Re: Thoughts and idea on how to improve my legato.

Post by afugate » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:16 am

blast wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:41 am
I like simple ideas..... when my students are having legato issues, I tell them to think about keeping playing a note right up to the new note... keep blowing.... you then find slide movement will need to be quick and articulation will become quick and neat.
Just remember to keep playing a note right up to the next..... everything else follows on.... simple.

Chris
Thanks, Chris. This is excellent. I will try to remember to use this with my students. :good:

--Andy in OKC
imsevimse
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:43 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Thoughts and idea on how to improve my legato.

Post by imsevimse » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:26 pm

I made a recording to document how I'm doing with this. The recording can be found at this new thread viewtopic.php?f=11&t=6419

/Tom
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
imsevimse
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:43 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Thoughts and idea on how to improve my legato.

Post by imsevimse » Sun Jul 15, 2018 2:40 am

hyperbolica wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:26 am
I'd do a combination of things. Exercises and playing your songs, in a more natural setting.

The typical Remington lip slurs are a great place to start, but the master of this stuff was really Marstellar. Work through his book. Lip slurs are of course changing partials with use of air and chops only, no tongue. The goal is to make them smooth and accurate, with increasing speed.

Some others here were students of John Swallow. I think there were other teachers who promoted this style as well. You can approach it like a game. The rules are fairly simple. Learn alternate positions, including trigger alternates. Don't "gliss" (move the slide in the same direction as the change in pitch) more than 1 position at a time. So to go from G to Bb, you'd go from 4th to 5th, getting the natural slur rather than from 4th to 1st, which is just a sloppy mess. Practice avoiding 1st position for a month. Practice air attacks, without tongue. Swallow ran me through all 3 Rochut books doing this, as well as the LaFosse Bach cello suites, Teleman Flute fantasies, Top Tones for Trumpet, and I forget all the books and other stuff we went through. I found the Marstellar stuff later, and the exercises in that book fit Swallows style nicely.

This is the kind of thing that you could spend all summer or more on. The exercises are great, but really applying it to your folk songs or the cello suites will solidify your grasp on this kind of thing. With all of this, start slow, and build speed until its musical, and maybe go a little beyond what you think is strictly musical, just to know you've got it under your belt.
Thanks for the advice on literature. I think I have the book by Marstellar. I also have the Schlossberg and Lafosse books as well as others. I have much music with legatos to play.

Interesting idea to avoid 1st position for a month and to solve as much of the legato issues as possible with help of alternate positions :good: I do use much alternate positions to help legatos. I try to find the closest path between position. I often use D, F and G on fourth, Bb and C in third and C# ,F# and E on fifth.

The problem with all literature is it only provides one method to fit all needs. If you want to get deeper into specific details it takes a teacher. A teacher to give feedback. Someone who listens and gives advice that is aimed at your particular needs. So how to get the the details?

/Tom
Last edited by imsevimse on Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:49 pm, edited 4 times in total.
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
imsevimse
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:43 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Thoughts and idea on how to improve my legato.

Post by imsevimse » Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:05 am

Kbiggs wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:35 am
Jay Friedman has some great ideas and approaches to legato which I’ve found helpful. He talks about air, slide movement, and concepts. Here’s a few of his posts:

http://jayfriedman.net/articles/legato_ ... _arms_race
http://jayfriedman.net/articles/legato_ ... recordings
http://jayfriedman.net/articles/shifting_gears
http://jayfriedman.net/articles/slurs_and_sound

I know there’s lots of others. Just a place to start. BTW, I like your use of memorized folksongs to play. Because you know the tune, you can turn up the dial of the listening and analysis part of your brain a little bit while you play.
Thank you! That was well worth reading. I do understand what he is talking about in all these articles which tells me I'm on track with this. I had not read that when I wrote what I picture as "thresholds"
that you need to lay close to as to make a smooth step between slide positions when you play against the grain. Mr Freeman describe the same thing as "road bumps" and says his embouchure prepares the new note as he moves the slide from first to fourth position (F-G).

Im very excited about have found this reading. :good:

/Tom
Last edited by imsevimse on Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
imsevimse
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:43 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Thoughts and idea on how to improve my legato.

Post by imsevimse » Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:23 am

Doug Elliott wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:30 am
Practice with no tongue, trying to make it totally smooth as if singing with no articulation. Then when you add the tongue back in, keep that smoothness with constant airflow and sound, no bumps either up or down, slide moving in, out, or still. You have to really listen closely and keep everything in total control.
Thanks for the advice on how to practice. I try my best to make it sound like that. I feel I have a better airflow. I'm getting closer.

/Tom
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
imsevimse
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:43 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Thoughts and idea on how to improve my legato.

Post by imsevimse » Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:30 am

blast wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:41 am
I like simple ideas..... when my students are having legato issues, I tell them to think about keeping playing a note right up to the new note... keep blowing.... you then find slide movement will need to be quick and articulation will become quick and neat.
Just remember to keep playing a note right up to the next..... everything else follows on.... simple.

Chris
Yes it sounds easy. It probably is when you've learnt it. Jay Freeman talked about the trombone pedagogy for legato playing that he described as a "no legato" approach. The slide instead moves super fast to make every note right next to each other but as he described it - not smooth and beautiful enough. I think this is what happened with my playing. I have tried to move the slide to fast between positions and to avoid a bump I have decreased the airflow between notes. Some at the academy in the 80-ies learned how to play legato like that but I never did. I'm trying this other approach now instead. I shall not be to scared of smears as I learn.

/Tom
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
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