Tutorials

Alternate C#

ESJohn

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I learned this past week that C# can be played by using L3 and R123 on my alto. (Forgive me if that is not the proper way to describe it, and please indicate the proper description of this method.) It is not on my fingering chart. It does seem to make a darker tone than not pressing any keys. I'm sure it has been discussed here many times but was a real eye-opener for me. Using the octave key doesn't appear to make any difference. Why would that fingering not be generally taught? Do any of you find yourself using that alternate and when?
 

tenorviol

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It is a useful alternative for C# but it does affect the tuning - how much depends on the instrument and I would assume the player too.
 

GCinCT

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I was not familiar with this fingering but I would say it’s not taught because it would very awkward for a beginner. It’s intuitive to add fingers from top to bottom. This would be tricky to learn. Also, think of going from this C# to a C. That’s a pretty complex move. It’s definitely advanced regardless of its tone.
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 ⅓ years
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This is a very useful fingering on the alto, especially for playing in concert E. That open E (C# on sax) sounds terrible on my altos, and it's right on the break, so legato E to F is very hard to do smoothly. The most disturbing thing to me in my first year was that break, and the difference in sound between E and F. The way I learned that fingering includes the octave key. Blowing octave, L3 and R123 and then adding L12 moves between E and F concert. Once you get that, you can also do E to G tremolos, another hard, if not impossible, move.
 
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tenorviol

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I was not familiar with this fingering but I would say it’s not taught because it would very awkward for a beginner. It’s intuitive to add fingers from top to bottom. This would be tricky to learn. Also, think of going from this C# to a C. That’s a pretty complex move. It’s definitely advanced regardless of its tone.
I was originally introduced to it as a beginner because I initially found playing C# with no fingers down tricky... If I do use it I use R123
 

Pete Effamy

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Some classical players use extensive "corrective" fingerings. They are used very much on the clarinet. Thea King, if no Resonance/Corrective fingerings were being used would say "put some clothes on!."

As has been noted by others, they can enhance resonance, correct tuning and help smooth transition across registers.
 

GCinCT

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Interesting and informative thread. I was aware of playing the C# with the right hand fingers down, but no one ever taught me the fingering with L3. I've never noticed a problem with the tone or fingering of the standard no finger C#, probably because I use it all the time and worked hard on getting it right.

I love when I can learn something from someone else's question.
 

Ivan

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Interesting and informative thread. I was aware of playing the C# with the right hand fingers down, but no one ever taught me the fingering with L3
Neither have occurred to me

Time to give it a go
 

jbtsax

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C#2 is a flat note on many saxophones and sometimes the side C can be opened to bring the pitch up. Adding the RH fingers to open C# not only changes the timbre of the note but can bring the pitch down even more.

The only useful purpose for that fingering is when going from D to C# and back to D rapidly it can provide a smoother fingering. At faster tempos the pitch of a single note is not as noticeable as when it held longer.

In "The Art of Saxophone Playing" by Larry Teal is a chapter on intonation and pitch tendencies of the instrument. On page 66 is a chart of fingerings that can be used to adjust the pitch that can be quite useful since lipping a note a long way up or down can cause the tone to suffer.
 
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randulo

Playing alto 2 ⅓ years
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C#2 is a flat note on many saxophones
Yes, really bad ion my YAS480. I can, correct it with embouchure, but the alt fingering sounds better.
going from D to C# and back to D rapidly it can provide a smoother fingering. At faster tempos the pitch of a single note is not as noticeable as when it held longer.
Agree, it's best for when the C# is very much in focus. Although, as I said, minor third tremolo up to it isn't easy with this fingering.
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
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A few weeks back someone was asking about difficulty playing a decent C#, I suggested he held R123 down in case he was lifting the sax slightly with his left thumb.
I thought I was suggesting a 'wrong' way to get round a problem, it now appears I knew an alternative fingering.
 

MandyH

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I keep R123 down on my baritone to stop the sax from pivoting, not to assist with tuning.

We saw Rob Buckland 2 weeks ago and I noticed he fine tuned C# using L3.

I don’t think anything you’ve suggested are actually fingerings for C# but are methods of changing the tone of that C#, which is inherently thin and out of tune.

Each sax may be different, so each player will need to trial their own sax and work out the best option.
 

GCinCT

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I keep R123 down on my baritone to stop the sax from pivoting, not to assist with tuning.
In my big band there was a part where I had to trill D to C#. I held my R123 down for the same reason.
 

Pete Effamy

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I’m not sure that it’s fair to say that open c# is inherently thin and out of tune - it must be a fact that the vast majority of players use the note “as intended” with no problem. Adding fingers is a fix if a fix is needed.
 

Pete Effamy

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In my big band there was a part where I had to trill D to C#. I held my R123 down for the same reason.
Usually the palm D is used, though is flat. Most find ok for a trill. If you prefer your fingering and it works nicely - job done!
 

GCinCT

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I used the palm D. I just found that the horn rocked back and forth so I held my right fingers down to steady it, lest it go flying into the second alto's lap.
 

Admitone

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146
I just found that the horn rocked back and forth so I held my right fingers down to steady it, lest it go flying into the second alto's lap.
I have problems with rocking on all the high palm notes. That sound like a plan.
 

jbtsax

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I’m not sure that it’s fair to say that open c# is inherently thin and out of tune - it must be a fact that the vast majority of players use the note “as intended” with no problem. Adding fingers is a fix if a fix is needed.
Open C# is at a disadvantage acoustically because it is the shortest tube in the 1st register before all the fingers are put back down with the octave key to play notes in their "2nd mode". There is not much of an air column "resonance" to help it out. To illustrate that the tone and pitch can get worse as the tube gets shorter, try playing palm D without the octave key. o_O C# is its next door neighbor.
 

Colin the Bear

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D toC# trill might be easier using long C#. If the horn is moving about using palm keys, use less pressure. You're only opening the key. Don't push against the stop.
 

GCinCT

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D toC# trill might be easier using long C#. If the horn is moving about using palm keys, use less pressure. You're only opening the key. Don't push against the stop.
It’s more the speed than the pressure. I need to develop some finesse in my trill.
 
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