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altissimo notes

saxyemma87

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Thanks I will try the fingering you suggested. I play the flute so I am used to having to use my diaphragm - I think it is something that will take me a long time of hard work to master!
 

saxnik

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I could always get squeaky high notes, but I have to recommend Top Tones again to provide a bit of reliability in getting altissimo notes. There aren't really any short cuts - you have to work at it.
To get the bugle-call thing going:

1) Finger low Bb.
2) Play low Bb.
3) Alter your tongue position and lip pressure a bit an attempt to overblow an octave (i.e. hit the middle Bb - play the low Bis Bb to hear it beforehand if you need to)
4) You'll probably hit the F above (Octave plus fifth) because that's an easier overtone to hit. Try to swap between that and the Bb.
5) If you've made it this far you've played the sax's 'fundamental' (low Bb), and harmonics an octave and a fifth above. Now try the next Bb up, another fourth above that.
6) the next harmonic interval is a major third (D), then the next fifth (F, a minor third up again), then a flat 7th (Ab, minor 3rd) and another Bb (major 2nd). If you've got this far it's probably plenty far enough. Start trying to sound the cavalry charge!!

Nick
 

altissimo

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leicester
I've found that some mouthpieces are better than others for altissimo notes - if the curve of the facing isn't darn near perfect then some notes in the altissimo register just won't happen without a lot a struggle. The poor quality facings found on some modern mass produced mouthpieces may make altissimo notes difficult. I'm not suggesting you go out and buy a new mouthpiece, but I found I didn't get very far with the altissimo until I abandoned my cheap student mouthpiece for something better

I try to shape my embouchure as if I were trying to sing the note and kind of arch the roof of my mouth and cup my tongue under the reed a bit so that my mouth has the right kind of resonant shape and take more mouthpiece into my mouth and adjust lip pressure... it's difficult to describe - there's a lot of variables involved and it takes a lot of trial and error (and tolerant neighbours)..
essentially you're trying to make the reed squeak in tune, which is counter intuitive - most sax playing involves trying to not make the reed squeak..
the fingering charts for altissimo (like this one - http://wardbaxter.com/education/sax_altissimo.pdf ) are only of use to help facilitate the notes, it's the embouchure that's the important bit. Playing overtones off the lower notes without moving your fingers is a useful exercise.
try reading this, it may help - http://www.wikihow.com/Hit-Altissimo-Notes-on-the-Sax
keep at it and once you've found out how to get one altissimo note, the others will gradually fall into place. Although being able to play chromatic scales in the altissimo register is something that few players can do - I certainly can't, but my neighbours would kill me if I practised altissimo for hours every day..
 

zannad

Member
Messages
408
Altissimo Notes?
Each sax has its own rules as far as I know and those altissimo charts are the most ridiculous lies I've ever come across in my sax learning experience.
If one fixated into thinking that certain notes can be obtained by fingering the sax in certain abstruse and unnatural ways which make sound a certain pitch then one can - but then with due time and efforts one can play any note from any fingering (guarantee) as long as we are well in the higher register - the higher the safer and easier to produce any note - I swear.
Personally, I found out about altissimo very early and found relatively easy to produce some reasonable pitches but the cramped fingering detract from any creative use (exept for impressing your frustrated friends) and to be honest I didn't like that piercing high pitched sound on the Alto so I didn't bothered much (I guess you get tinnitus by practicing too much altissimo on Alto - so stay away)....on the Tenor (I've started playing it more recently) it might be worth the effort but I rather use conventional fingering and play the overtones rather than using those pathetic fingering charts ;}
 

zannad

Member
Messages
408
So your fingerings would be what, exactly? Say for tenor.

WOULD be the same conventional fingering...in truth, playing a fifth above is more reliable than an octave (it's like having some extra gears) - how easy it is depends on the set up....and the higher you go the easier to get the note you want - you get them with your throat (not with your fingers) - but that's a secret between me and ya ;}.

Anyhow, I'm not practicing altissimo but years ago I've recorded a simple version of Summertime played with conventional fingers sounding a fifth and also an octave above ('cos some skeptics wouldn't believe me) and in truth the playing isn't that smooth but comparable with others after years of doing it using charts - only I do it naturally (no real training) sweat less and I don't get cramps in my fingers - e.g. playing 3 times with the same fingering is possible to play:
1) the normal range (as anyone does)
2) a fifth above
3) an octave above

in fact other intervals would be possible - it's only a question of THROAT (not fingers)...
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
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445
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Leeds
All of those 'crazy' fingerings are also based on the harmonics of lower notes. There are a couple of things that complicate matters, though. The harmonic series will get you natural tuning, not tempered. Also, the saxophone is imperfect, some more so than others. The higher partials are out of tune to a different degree depending on the make of horn and mouthpiece.

e.g., the common F# fingerings using the front F are all essentially overblowing the short tube Bb and venting it with the F key. Should overblow an 12th to F, but opening up the F key brings it up about a half step (maybe because it's much too large for a conventional register hole). Which one responds well and in tune depends on your horn and mouthpiece.


Zannad is 100% correct that the important thing is making your vocal tract shapes right for the note -- this matters more than the fingerings, especially when you get into the 4th octave where the partials are so close together almost any fingering can play almost any note.
 

Nick Wyver

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I think I would struggle to get G3 by fingering G1. With the fingering I use the note just pops out. I can't think of a good reason to change - I don't get cramp and it doesn't make me sweat.

I agree about the higher notes. For B and above I just overblow the palm keys.
 

zannad

Member
Messages
408
All of those 'crazy' fingerings are also based on the harmonics of lower notes. There are a couple of things that complicate matters, though. The harmonic series will get you natural tuning, not tempered. Also, the saxophone is imperfect, some more so than others. The higher partials are out of tune to a different degree depending on the make of horn and mouthpiece.


e.g., the common F# fingerings using the front F are all essentially overblowing the short tube Bb and venting it with the F key. Should overblow an 12th to F, but opening up the F key brings it up about a half step (maybe because it's much too large for a conventional register hole). Which one responds well and in tune depends on your horn and mouthpiece.


Zannad is 100% correct that the important thing is making your vocal tract shapes right for the note -- this matters more than the fingerings, especially when you get into the 4th octave where the partials are so close together almost any fingering can play almost any note.

Alleluia!
I was expecting the thrashing I've got after my attack on transposition (another big lie in my sax experience) - but hey, having my "weird views" being supported by someone makes my day (for once).
Each sax tells a different story...each setup tells a different story...each player tells a different story - using fingering charts and selling them as "universal" is just nonsense!
 
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zannad

Member
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408
I think I would struggle to get G3 by fingering G1. With the fingering I use the note just pops out. I can't think of a good reason to change - I don't get cramp and it doesn't make me sweat.

I agree about the higher notes. For B and above I just overblow the palm keys.


Can you play simple tunes with those fingering charts?! (I guess not)...when I did practice those charts (until I realized these were useless) I did use the altissimo as single notes...a quick shot or two up there but that was all. Instead, by mastering the overtones and finding a useful setup one is capable of using the altissimo range with more creativity...
How smoothly and fluently one can go is just a question of how much time and effort one is prepared to put on the altissimo plate - personally, I don't bother much...what's the point of making a Tenor sounding like an Alto or a Soprano?
 

Nick Wyver

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Can you play simple tunes with those fingering charts?! (I guess not)

Yes, and some complicated ones too.

How smoothly and fluently one can go is just a question of how much time and effort one is prepared to put on the altissimo plate

Can't fault you on that one.

- personally, I don't bother much...what's the point of making a Tenor sounding like an Alto or a Soprano?

No point at all - but it doesn't sound like them. It sounds like a tenor playing altissimo.

You can just imagine it can't you? There's a high G in the score so you say to the conductor, "Half a mo, I just need to pick up the sop for this note."
 

zannad

Member
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408
Yes, and some complicated ones too.



Can't fault you on that one.



No point at all - but it doesn't sound like them. It sounds like a tenor playing altissimo.

You can just imagine it can't you? There's a high G in the score so you say to the conductor, "Half a mo, I just need to pick up the sop for this note."

LOL...if a high G is on the score I just play it with a G fingering (easy and natural) or from any other conventional fingering above that (e.g. the last note before that G?) just think about the note to be hit (a bit like trumpet players do) - why do you bother using the altissimo fingering for that?
My way presents so many advantages:
1) no need to memorize extra fingering (isn't sax fingering complicated enough? compare that to a piano or guitar).
2) easier and more fluent the phrasing you are playing - some Altissimo fingering are really awkward and getting back into proper action can be tricky (you lose focus).
3) why dividing different ranges like the Altissimo and the Normal range...like class A and class B - treat them as equal as possible. The transition to the Altissimo range and the conventional should be natural.
 

jazzdoh

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Altissimo for me is a mixture of fingerings and the use of the throat to get the notes i want,but the fingerings are important to get the right run of notes and it is just as important to use the right equipment,like some mpc's are better than others and some prefer harder reeds but i get better results with the softer reeds i play.
The reason there are fingerings for altissimo is for choice,some players get better results with different fingerings.
Although altissimo is important for tone and control of your horn,i find i am using it less and less mainly due to the fact some of the gigs i get are in eating environments where the audience much prefer lighter music.
Sonny Rollins on friday night on BBC hardly used altissimo at all and he was still great,although that might be down to his advanced years or maybe just choice.

Brian
 

Nick Wyver

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LOL...if a high G is on the score I just play it with a G fingering (easy and natural) or from any other conventional fingering above that (e.g. the last note before that G?) just think about the note to be hit (a bit like trumpet players do) - why do you bother using the altissimo fingering for that?

Because it's easier.

(isn't sax fingering complicated enough?

Sax fingering's dead easy. You should try a recorder.

2) easier and more fluent the phrasing you are playing - some Altissimo fingering are really awkward and getting back into proper action can be tricky (you lose focus).

That's why I use fingerings that link up nicely.

3) why dividing different ranges like the Altissimo and the Normal range...like class A and class B - treat them as equal as possible. The transition to the Altissimo range and the conventional should be natural.

Yup. Totally agree. I don't treat them as different.
 

aldevis

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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

As quoted before G is quite hard. What instrument do you play?
 

aldevis

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Do you need tight or loose embouchure?

Biting doesn't help in general.
The "bugle" exercise from Rascher is supposed to give you the correct embochure.

There is a similar (and easier) one from Liebman: digit a Bb (3rd line), close all the keys down to a low Bb keeping the same pitch.
Then F (5th line) and again down to low Bb fingering keeping the note.
Bb above it (better no octave key), D, front F (if you are lucky)

This exercise helps tone production and tuning too.
 

Fraser Jarvis

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I'm 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? I'm struggling
The cold hard truth is nobody on here can wave a magic wand and get you to play altisimo, it can take years to master just something you are going to have to persevere with, but as I've said before i was trying to get the G once for a piece i was working on and after a long time and a lot of frustration suddenly it just came out.....along with all the other notes!

I say i say i say, why did the condom want to climb the stairs? so sorry i couldn't resist....
 

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