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altissimo notes

usn694

New Member
Messages
21
Hey everyone. It's been a while but I was curious how everyone here learned to play the altissimo notes on the sax(specifically tenor). I want to do a note a day and learn alternate fingerings as well.
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
I started with squeaks, then learned to control them a bit with throat position, then finally got onto the Top Tones (Sigurd Rascher) method, which is based on harmonic overtones and more to do with control than fingerings - I think it works pretty well.
As for alternate fingerings, since most of the control should be throat, tongue and embouchure, you can pretty much choose which fingerings suit best for you...

Good luck,

Nick
 

dooce

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,421
I think a note a day might be a bit optimistic. They are elusive little beggars, altissimo notes. Until you've mastered them, one day they'll ring out and the next - just squawks.

I sympathise with those scientists looking for particles with the Large Hadron Collider. You know they are in their somewhere and if you get the conditions just right, they will be revealed for a millionth of a second - just like finding altissimo......
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,699
Make sure your reeds are in good nick, ropey reeds are a real hindrance to altissimo. try holding down a low Bb and trying to overblow different notes -play the sax like a giant bugle... once you can do this accurately you're pretty well primed for altissimo....
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,435
I think a note a day might be a bit optimistic. They are elusive little beggars, altissimo notes. Until you've mastered them, one day they'll ring out and the next - just squawks.

I sympathise with those scientists looking for particles with the Large Hadron Collider. You know they are in their somewhere and if you get the conditions just right, they will be revealed for a millionth of a second - just like finding altissimo......

Brilliant analogy

I haven't even tried to find altissimo notes yet. haven't come across any music requiring them yet so I'm assuming they are used mainly in improvisation which unfortunately is on another planet at the moment,but should be fun when the star ship lands...john
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,561
Not wishing to seem ignorant.... what is an "altissimo" note - I am presuming those above the F 2 full octaves (and a bit) above middle C - the F above the 3rd leger line above the stave??

I am making this presumption since I've never had a problem getting up there, so I'm presuming there must be more. Yours in ignorance ...

I had problems getting down to the basement - C, B and Bflat - for a while, but am now OK down there too.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
It's the ones above the normal keyed notes - higher than F 3 ledger lines above the stave.

I'm nowhere near it, except when I squeak.
 
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baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
I'll second Jules's suggestion for playing harmonics / bugle calls. Another thing to bear in mind, just to reassure you, is that just about the trickiest and least stable altissimo note is probably the first one that you're going to try and play - the altissimo G! If you have a high F# on your tenor then life will be easier to get that note, but the 3 or 4 semitones above it are easier to get - particularly the A.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,927
I also think overtones exercises (switching - low Bb for all notes but you can also play B, C, C# ) is the key to success. Saxes can have diffent altissmo fingerings. I just use two or three altissimo notes. So I can't play a scale up there.

Thomas
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,912
Part of a song i was practicing at the time required that i alternate between altisimo G and A (Phoenix City) i practiced (very frustraitingly) for what seemed like months to hit the G which only happened on a good day! the rest of the notes just seemed to happen all at once when i least expected it! ..... i would recomend the top tones book by Rascher, although a bit old school i found it invaluable....

For what its worth, i reguarly practice altisimo starting by playing bottom G then middle G then altisimo G, then move along chromaticaly until i cover everything, this way of practice also helps your ear "hear" the note before you actualy play it, quite important i guess .
 

singlereed

Member
Messages
124
Some are a lot easier than others - the G and G# can be especially elusive on some saxophones. One that is often easy is an altissmo D, fingered with just front F and octave key - I can hit that on just about any old set-up. It's worth getting some confidence with notes that do work and then work up and down from it. Absolutely agree about 'elusive little buggers' :D One other little hint is that a Hahn synthetic reed seems to work well for altissimo and anything that helps you gain confidence at the beginning is good. After quite a lot of practice, I would back myself to get altissimo G to D chromatically on my alto but it's 'hit and miss' on sop, tenor and baritone, mainly as I simply haven't worked on it. There are books on this by Rascher and Rousseau which you may find helpful if you are seriously interested and many fingering charts on the web that may help.
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Just to clarify, Rascher does get you doing the 'bugle call' thing - that's step 2, the main training bit as I recall...

Nick
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
First one I ever managed to get was A, but I could never get G, now I can get G and right up to D and the last one that is very hit and miss is bloomin well get A!!:confused: :))) I found a site with a chart (I'll see if I can find it again) that had loads of different alternative fingerings and tried them all out til I found the ones that worked, then changed mouth piece and had to find different ones again! it's a very slow and arduous process >:) I work on them a tiny little bit every day and now incorporate them into my long tones when going upwards chromatically. :thumb:
 

saxyemma87

New Member
Messages
8
Im looking at playing altissimo. Ive mastered the alternate E and F fingering but the G seems to be a distant (and slightly non existent) sound.... if anything at all comes out. Do you need tight or loose embouchure? Im struggling
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,912
Im looking at playing altissimo. Ive mastered the alternate E and F fingering but the G seems to be a distant (and slightly non existent) sound.... if anything at all comes out. Do you need tight or loose embouchure? Im struggling
Yes, quite important to become familiar with front E & F, what fingering are you using for the G ? i find front B + the high F# works well on my Selmer, regarding embouchure i used to really pucker up and even screw my eye's up to get up there, but you know that just wont do anything apart from make your lips bleed, what you need to do is firstly blow a G below so you can "visualize" how it will sound, keep your throat open, push from your diaphragm (not simply blow) and it should happen....one thing when you get it hang on to it as long as you can without it cracking and feel your diaphragm controlling it, try adding a bit of vibrato to really get your confidence up! good look.
 
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