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Tone Alto sax mouthpiece alone pitch

agganitk

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hello everyone,

What should be the pitch and frequency of Alto sax mouthpiece alone ? When I am playing I am seeing concert A6 (1050 Hz approx). I see on internet it should be 880 hz. Why am I seeing one octave higer
 

jbtsax

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A5 (concert pitch) is 880. The throat and embouchure needs to be adjusted to bring the mouthpiece pitch down to this frequency. A6 would be twice that frequency at 1760 vps (or Hz). Your frequency of 1050 Hz is roughly a C6---3 half steps above A6.
 

buckg

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I'm curious why mouthpiece pitch matters. In my experience this has never come up. My approach has always been to put the mouthpiece on the horn and adjust embochure, throat, breath, etc. to ensure good intonation.

Wouldn't pitch vary by mouthpiece design anyway?
 

Colin the Bear

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It's just an embouchure check. If your embouchure is too tight or too loose it can give intonation problems. Having to adjust for intonation will rob you of tone and distract you from playing.
 

jbtsax

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Colin is exactly on target. At the time Santy Runyon came up with the mouthpiece pitch idea for saxophone, most of the saxophone players and teachers were converted clarinet players who instinctively played toward the top of the pitch of the mouthpiece as is done on clarinet. By bringing the mouthpiece pitch down to closer to the center of the pitch it eliminates the "pinched" sound and helps the octaves to be better in tune. What we take for granted today was a revolutionary idea back then.

All of this is related to the effective volume of the mouthpiece needing to match that of the "missing cone" in order for the saxophone to play its best. Many jazz players play a step or more below A on their alto mouthpiece creating too much volume. So in order to play up to pitch, they push the mouthpiece on farther. The result is they get more volume and edge to their sound. Theoretically you can play higher than A and pull the mouthpiece out to bring the pitch down, but you are still closing off the tip opening creating a pinched sound with no real volume.

Another test that I like to use with my students is to play low A and flick the neck octave key open momentarily with the free hand. If it goes to high A and stays up there for a while the embouchure is too tight. If the high A is flat and flabby sounding, the embouchure is too loose. If it pops to an in tune high A and drops back down after just a moment, the embouchure is correct. The other way is to check the neck and mouthpiece together which on alto should produce an Ab concert.
 

griff136

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It's also a good practice regime to play the mouthpiece only against tuner, doing this exercise daily you should be able to play an octave in tune just on the mouthpiece. It's also good practice to try and play the lower octave on your horn with the octave key open and the middle octave with the octave key shut.
 

jbtsax

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Ok. I don't know if this means anything or not, but you might want to try it. Take your alto mouthpiece with a reed on it and blow across the shank end and listen to the pitch that it produces. This gives the natural resonant frequency of the asymmetrical chamber inside the mouthpiece.
 

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