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High notes on soprano

Moz

Senior Member
Messages
841
Location
North of Liskeard, Cornwall,UK
I suppose I already know some of the answer to this question but...

I have been playing tenor for about five years and have developed a pretty reasonable tone in the whole range of notes. Now, however, I am trying to do the same thing on soprano and I'm having terrible trouble with anything above high A and even that note is a bit ropey.

I have difficulty making the high notes stable or clear and have reservations about how in tune they are as well. Trying vibrato does more harm than good.

I know I must practice long tones regardless of the cost to my hearing but does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can make the conversion from tenor to soprano easier and/or shorter?

I am using a Yanagisawa S901 with a 6 opening Bari mouthpiece and strength 2 reeds of various makes.

Cheers

Martin
 

griff136

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,047
Location
I live in Exmouth Devon.
Martin - firstly how long have you been playing sop? these beasts do take time to tame although as far as tuning/intonation goes, yanigasawa sopranos are known for their good intonation.

you say you are having problems with top A and above - I am assuming you mean A2 fingering XXO|OOO plus the octave key.

Without teaching anyone to suck eggs - movement between G and A in the first 2 octaves (on instruments fitted with a low A - its the first 3 octaves) is the crossover from the body octave pip to the crook octave pip when the 8va key is depressed. You could have a slight leak on the body pip as this should only be open whilst the G key is depressed (i.e. second octave G down to D)

You may not have a leak and it could just be embouchure.

It could be that your reed/mouthpiece combination is not helping - have you tried with a harder reed say a 3?

let us know how you get on.
 

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,361
Location
Buckinghamshire
I'm sure Griff is right about a possible leak though I too struggle with my saxello which does seem to be leak-free - its OK right up to B 95% of the time, C and D are a bit hit and miss though and anything above that is a no go :)

Mind you, I've probably played less that 4 hours in total and I haven't yet sorted out a mp or what reeds I am going to use - I just use a few that came with it.

There's no doubt a huge difference from the tenor and I had problems with my tenor embouchure after an hour or so on the sop so it's been put away until my tenor embouchure is developed enough to cope easily with the switch so hopefully soon I'll be looking at using it again.

I do love the sound of a sop. :D
 

visionari1

Senior Member
Messages
1,606
Location
Out in the Countryside of Nelson NZ
Hi Martin.

I've had a sop only about 3 months, having been blowing my Alto for 15years plus. I also find the high notes weak. (I have a basic Blessings Sop, nothing like the Yani quality)
I asked my teacher about this and he said open your throat more (drop the back of the mouth) to get more of a sound chamber. I did this to get a definate improvement on the Sop. The biggest difference, was that my alto sound, which also became fuller, more breathy and much easier over the whole range.
I've no experience with Tenors, although shurely the jump from Tenor to Sop must be larger than Alto to Sop.
Yanigasawa's S901 are probably not at fault unless griff is right.

You must have been experimenting with reed/mouthpeice & ligature combinations. Why have you gone for a Bari Mouthpiece (is that baritone?) on a Sop? (no that can't be right!).

Sometimes the right mouthpeice demands a different strength reed.

blow it and see,

good luck!

Cheers:mrcool
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,659
Location
Betelgeuse
Bari Mouthpieces

Bari is a brand of mouthpiece. I use one on soprano, a metal Bari Gold. I think they're great. Certainly shouldn't be a limiting factor.
 
OP
Moz

Moz

Senior Member
Messages
841
Location
North of Liskeard, Cornwall,UK
As jonf says, Bari is a breed of mouthpiece. I changed from the Yani one as I was getting overtones, undertones, all sorts of tones so I bought the Bari with a wider opening and that instantly cured the low note problem.

Bit late to experiment now but tomorrow I shall try conciously opening the throat whilst playing. I suspect I already do when using the tenor as the sound is good and full. I think I may have a chicken and egg situation with the high notes on the sop in that if I think the notes are going to be bad I tense up and if I tense up the notes are going to be bad; QED.

Griff, most interesting point about the 8va button, I've just looked and of course you are right (but I had to see it for myself). I shall investigate further in the light of day regarding leaks in that area but I suspect it is the physical change in the dynamics of the airflow and my inadequate air control at the crossover point that is causing the problem as the notes are there, just rather feeble and unsteady rather than failing as a leak might cause. I haven't been playing the soprano in earnest until recently so as I said in my initial posting, it is probable that the change from tenor to sop requires persistence. I recently bought an alto (see my other post regarding Selmer Liberty saxes) to help with composing of sax quartet music and find the very high notes are also a bit naff although we are talking high E, F and F# here and I have no concerns about the ability of the saxophone, that's definitely me.

Thank you all for you advice, I shall act on it and report back after a lot more practice sessions -- I hope the dog can stand it!! >:):shocked::)

Martin
 

SopJob

Member
Messages
77
Location
Stuttgart region, Germany
If you want to play high, go low!

Hi Moz,

quite some time ago that you posted this article. Hope you are still there. I just read it today because I am new to this forum. The best advice I can give is to strengthen your embouchure so that you can enclose the mouthpiece more tightly (and not let loose afterwards) As a preparation, play the very low notes, then try to octave without using the octave key while keeping the keys for the low notes pressed. Once you've done that, add a fifth, all by just using your embouchure. If you can, go even higher by playing two octaves on top of your base tone. The exercise is described in Eugene Rousseau's "Saxophone High Tones". Mind that this is bloody hard to do at first.

Another good exercise is to play any note, then slacken your embouchure. First maybe by half a tone, then by a whole tone. Afterwards, tighten the embouchure again so that you play the original note. Hold the tone while doing this (don't interrupt the air flow) Try with different tones, especially in the lower octave.

When you go about high E, F and F# again, take a bit more of the mouthpiece into your mouth. That is, move your teeth and lower lip forward. Also try holding the sop at different angles. Control the pitch with a tuner.

Mouthpiece, reeds etc: Whatever pleases you or makes life easier. Stiffer reeds helped me a little bit (Hemke 2.5, Alexander DC 3, Alexander NY 2.5), but that is an individual affair. Generally, thin reeds make it harder to control the tuning, whereas it is harder to control the volume with thicker reeds. Different materials are just an aid. In 95% (if not more) of all cases, I dare say it's you who can make/makes a difference.

The high notes will come eventually and your tone will improve. It depends on how much you invest.

Wishing you a loud and clear high G!

SopJob


I suppose I already know some of the answer to this question but...

I have been playing tenor for about five years and have developed a pretty reasonable tone in the whole range of notes. Now, however, I am trying to do the same thing on soprano and I'm having terrible trouble with anything above high A and even that note is a bit ropey.

I have difficulty making the high notes stable or clear and have reservations about how in tune they are as well. Trying vibrato does more harm than good.

I know I must practice long tones regardless of the cost to my hearing but does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can make the conversion from tenor to soprano easier and/or shorter?

I am using a Yanagisawa S901 with a 6 opening Bari mouthpiece and strength 2 reeds of various makes.

Cheers

Martin
 
Last edited by a moderator:

SaxyMalcolm

Member
Messages
77
Location
Peebles, Scotland
I suppose I already know some of the answer to this question but...

I have been playing tenor for about five years and have developed a pretty reasonable tone in the whole range of notes. Now, however, I am trying to do the same thing on soprano and I'm having terrible trouble with anything above high A and even that note is a bit ropey.

I have difficulty making the high notes stable or clear and have reservations about how in tune they are as well. Trying vibrato does more harm than good.

I know I must practice long tones regardless of the cost to my hearing but does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can make the conversion from tenor to soprano easier and/or shorter?

I am using a Yanagisawa S901 with a 6 opening Bari mouthpiece and strength 2 reeds of various makes.

Cheers

Martin
Martin

Try practising each day on your mouthpiece, it trains your throat/aural cavity to be in the correct position for the pitch you want to play. With practise you should be able to play scales on the mouthpiece alone. Then practise harmonics on your sax. There are lots of books and info out there about mouthpiece practise and harmonics. The 4th harmonic on the bottom Bb fingering is Bb just above the stave, if you can play it comforably then you should not have a problem with the A a semitone lower.

Malcolm
 

drphilginnl

New Member
Messages
12
Location
Leiden, the Netherlands
Don't know if anyone is still interested. I have been playing a Selmer SA80 II Soprano since December 2011. I'm making good progress, but having issues with TONGUING high notes E, F, F#. I can slur up an down, but when I tongue the notes...I've tried holding the horn straight out, harder reeds, opening my throat (helped a bit). Has anyone had trouble with hitting the keys to hard? Moving the horn? Thanks
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,794
Location
Minster On Sea
I guess it's the same old thing - practice. Tongued scales, especially chromatic. From lightly tongued to staccato. Try repeating each note a few times. Keep checking your tuning.
 

drphilginnl

New Member
Messages
12
Location
Leiden, the Netherlands
Thanks, Nick. I've been playing through a range of scales: G 1 octave, F 1 octave, E 1 octave , Eb 1 octave, D 2 octaves, C 2 octaves, B 2 octaves, Bb octaves, Eb 2 octaves, E 2 octaves, F 2 octaves, Gb 1 oct, Ab 1 oct, A 1 oct and then some various corresponding minor keys from Maria Shaposhnikova's KHrestomania and lately also from Jean-Marie Londiex Exercices Mécaniques seconds, thirds, fourths, etc, though I quit playing chromatic scales. That's a great idea! :sax:
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,514
Location
Burnley bb9 9dn
The high notes on the sop are soooo high. I think you need to be a dog to appreciate them. Tuning is more critical with the sop I'm finding. If you've tuned to low you're having to push up too hard and if you've tuned to high you're pulling them down, taking the reed out of it's natural comfort zone.

If you're happy with mouthpiece and reed set up have a play with the position of the mouthpiece. Other than that it's just practice.

As well as scales etc I find it useful to play a simple tune in both registers. Sometimes because you're expecting a problem , it comes about. Playing a simple melody takes your mind off the technicality of the notes and puts the tune foremost in your mind and then nature/instinct takes its course.
 

SopJob

Member
Messages
77
Location
Stuttgart region, Germany
I guess no one is interested!?!?!
Hello drphilginnl,

sorry for not replying sooner. I find it hard to suggest something that I have not already suggested. It's one of those things that you get the hang of by constantly practicing. I remember that I had the same problem for a long time. Keep going. Just repeat the exercises and give the high notes a try every day. You'll need just a minute.

Think back to the days when you learned how to ride a bicycle. I bet there was this one day when, all of a sudden, you could do it, and never forgot how.

Hint: from the point where you can properly tongue these notes, it is still some way to go to make them sound nicely.

Regards,

Frank.
 
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