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Beginner Alternative fingerings

Jay

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I'm finally trying to learn the last few notes on my sax, and the saxophone fingering 'app' I was using, gives alternative fingerings for E3 through to F#3.
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The left side one works, the right side doesn't, and so for F3 and F#3.

Is this because
1. The right side fingerings are rubbish, never seen them like that
2. Some saxophones do one thing, some do the other
3. It takes better chops/breath support to blow the right side fingering, sounds like you're not there yet
 

jbtsax

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The correct answer is #3 (sort of.)

The fingering you are struggling with is called the "front E". Most players have difficulty with this note at first. I would suggest you work on "front F" first which is the thumb, C, and front F. It has to do with breath support, but also having the correct "voicing" which simply means the shape of the oral cavity.

To work on front F, first play high C forte as a long tone. Then blow that note on your airstream like an "air whistle" with fast cold air. Then blow the note a 4th higher on the airstream and notice how your tongue raises inside the mouth. (A 4th higher is like "here comes, the bride. . .") Next blow your high C with its airstream, and then give an extra push of air while raising the tongue and add the front F key at the same time. After a few tries the high F should pop out. If it does not try using more air. If it still doesn't speak with more air, your embouchure may be too loose.

Once you can get the high front F to speak, practice holding it as a long tone, and then work on coming in on the high front F without playing C first. When you can do this easily, then practice going from high F to high E by simply adding the 3rd finger. For some reason front E is more resistant on most saxophones and take a bit more effort to play than the front F.
 

Jay

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That's great, thank you very much for such a clear explanation. Off to try once I've done the feeding and milking......
 

kernewegor

Bon vivant, raconteur and twit
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When the world was young and I was learning clarinet and alto sax I remember seeing a fingering chart and spending all of two minutes confusing myself before I lost patience and decided that it was quicker to figure it out myself using eyes and ears.

Cross fingerings either got discovered by accident or someone showed me them.

Jbtsax does some great and beautifully clear explanations, plus lots of stuff the app diagrams don't tell you...

Have a geek at these - Pete's diagrams are very logically laid out and so clear even I can follow them... follow the links for alternative fingerings and altissimo fingerings. Great site, if you haven't seen it before...
 

Jay

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Found the alternative fingerings on @PeteThomas's site - thank you. They're very good because they tell you why, and when, you might want them.
 

Colin the Bear

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I only look for an alternative fingering when I have a piece that gives me problems or needs a little something with different voices for the same note.
 

Jay

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I will just learn the main ones for now, I just wasn't sure which those were on that chart, and then I got curious about E3 and the one that would play and one that wouldn't.
I'm still a very long way off being able to play a chromatic scale fluently, or anything with too many (more than 3!) sharps or flats.
 

Jay

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Thank you - there's so much good stuff on your site. Having a coffee, and a read, before I do the next job on my list.....my brain gets full anyway, it can only manage a bit of this stuff at a time!
 

spike

Old Indian
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Just a little tip - it may help - it may even confuse the issue in which case I apologise in advance - however - when I don't practice or play regularly sometimes the E and F played with the front F (a.k.a. "fork F" fingerings) don't pop out as they should and are sometimes a few cents flat. When this happens I open the g# key at the same time for those two notes as a "mothers little helper" to get me out of trouble with the rest of the band not to mention the audience. I don't recommend it on a permanent basis but it may help you to get started on hitting those alternative fingered high notes with confidence.

All saxes are different, even identical makes and models and as a result the alternative fingerings can and will differ in the higher registers.

Another exercise I and many others might recommend which will improve your tone over the whole range of the horn as well as the altissimo register is - and it's with a tip of the hat and many thanks to the Caf' resident guru and all time mentor Mr. PT. have a look at this:
http://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-harmonics-overtones

Playing the saxophone is all about control in my book - it can take a while - take your time - one step at a time - patience - practice - perseverence.

Hope to have helped - gruss - spike
 

Nick Wyver

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I don't recommend it on a permanent basis but it may help you to get started on hitting those alternative fingered high notes with confidence.

Why not? If it's flat like it often seems to be on tenors. Surely it's better to play it in tune than be somehow purist about it.
 

Jay

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That's all great info Spike, thank you, it's good to hear about tricks like that :)
 

Zootsax

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Front E and F are so important on the sax that they are often called the "gateway" fingerings. Essentially, they are the start of the altissimo range. Also, for those of you who may not have experience with vintage vs. modern horns, before the front F key existed, any altissimo fingering that would use only front F on the left hand instead used 1 and 3, and this combination is still viable for most altissimo notes that use front F for an acceptable alternate. Tuning and resistance is much different, but I love alternate fingerings as you never know when they'll come in handy.
 

Ivan

Undecided
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A nagging question I'd like answered please:

Is the RH F# key useful for anything other than trill with F?
 

Pete Thomas

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A nagging question I'd like answered please:

Is the RH F# key useful for anything other than trill with F?
Certain fingering passages,

e.g.

blues scale riff C Eb F Gb F Eb C
major scale: C# D# E# F# E# D# C#
 

jbtsax

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That is also the best fingering for F to F# in the chromatic scale.
 

spike

Old Indian
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I've never used it a lot but apart from trilling I always found it very useful for the "Soulman" intro on tenor
 

Zootsax

Member
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I use the RH F# key fairly frequently, mostly in classical/contemporary pieces with very fast runs. For example, it comes in handy a few times during the 1st movement of the Fuzzy Bird Sonata. In fact, it can be used as a sort of "fake" fingering for F#. If you play palm key in a fast run and have F# included in a fast run, RH F# can be added without the 3rd palm key and a slightly out-of-tune F# will pop out (depending on the brand). It should never be used for a long tone, but can get the job done for some of the more difficult passages.
 

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