All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians

I Can't Play Altissimo

Isaac Gaston

New Member
Messages
3
I am more of an intermediate tenor saxophone player trying to do new stuff. I looked up the cool new things on "taming the sax" and learned many things but the one thing I could never do is play altissimo. I don't know what is wrong, I can play overtones fine but when it comes to going out of the normal register of the sax it doesn't work for me.
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
27,223
Locality
Cheshire UK
Welcome to the Café :)

I am sure you will have some answers soon, meanwhile why not pop over to the doorbell section of the forum and say hi

Jx
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,556
Locality
West Midlands
All i can say is it will come with time,overtones are a great way to get you there,also work hard perfecting the high F and high F# using the front F key and practise high F# using front F key without the F# key but instead use the side key.
 

Isaac Gaston

New Member
Messages
3
All i can say is it will come with time,overtones are a great way to get you there,also work hard perfecting the high F and high F# using the front F key and practise high F# using front F key without the F# key but instead use the side key.
Thank you for the advice
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,772
Locality
Betelgeuse
Two things make thee differencce to me. The first is experimenting wwith fingering - there are no definitive altissimo fingerings, some work better for some players than others. Also, try to think the pitch you're aiming for. Just blowing alone, for me at lest, doesn't do it.

You may also find that the mouthpiece affects how easy altissimo notes are to play. What mouthpiece do you use?

A final thought. Lots of people start with high G, which with many off the suggested fingereings is a really hard note to hit. Try fingering B and adding the high F# key (presuming you have a modern sax). For me at least, the note just pops out. Credit to Daveysaxboy for this one.
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,349
Locality
leicester
http://www.bobrk.com/saxfaq/2.5.html

http://www.bobrk.com/saxfaq/2.6.html

some mouthpieces are just not easy to get the altissimo, having a good accurate facing will help, high baffle mouthpieces are usually better as well, but not essential. Shaping your mouth as if you're going to sing the note helps. Altering lip position and pressure can also help a bit, as does cupping your tongue under the reed to create a resonant airspace. You're basically trying to make the reed squeak, but in a controlled way. It's a bit counter intuitive, after years of learning to control the reed, you now have to relinquish some of that control
Keep practising overtones off the low notes, most of the altissimo fingerings are basically lower note fingerings with an upper key open a bit to act as an 'octave' vent
http://www.saxopedia.com/chart-altissimo-register/
http://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-altissimo
http://www.wikihow.com/Hit-Altissimo-Notes-on-the-Sax
http://www.bestsaxophonewebsiteever.com/11-tips-for-improving-your-altissimo/
http://everythingsaxophone.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/altissimo-crash-course-beginner-through.html
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,787
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
High A fingered T LH 2,3 is a relatively easy entry level altissimo note to produce. Practice "hissing" like a cat to get the back of the tongue high in the mouth. Play high A (T LH 1,2 ) forte and hear in your mind the same note an octave higher, then raise the back of the tongue and increase the air speed and switch the fingers to LH 2,3. Remember to use lots of fast cold air. Once the high A is solid, adding the other altissimo notes going up chromatically is not very difficult. Getting the Ab and G going down on tenor can be more of a challenge.
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,303
You couldn't play a C major scale when you first got your sax. Practise all the time. Loads on youtube to help out.
 

Guenne

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,250
Locality
Austria
Try fingering B and adding the high F# key (presuming you have a modern sax). For me at least, the note just pops out. Credit to Daveysaxboy for this one.

Hi,
I would add the side Bb-Key. (Finger B, plus F# and Bb side key with right index finger).
Works on Tenor and Bari, not on my Altos.

I would suggest practicing overtones, MPCs-exercises.
A good reed will also help, might be easier on synthetic reeds.
Get "Voicing" by Don Sinta.

Cheers,
Guenne
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,925
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
35 years on saxophone and never bothered with it. If I want to go up there I get the clarinet out.
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,872
I've never end bothered with Altissimo either, but I have been working with Coltranes omnibook lately and he plays mainly in the normal reg. mostly using the upper register of the Tenor.. Giant Steps. Crescent etc. but occasionally he plays F# ..G in a run. So I'm tempted to venture into that area of playing. Otherwise don't see a great need.
 

aaronrod

Member
Messages
42
35 years on saxophone and never bothered with it. If I want to go up there I get the clarinet out.

I've been playing for nearly 20 and thought I was the only one! Along those lines, what do you want to do with altissimo? I know a few players that can do it, but have no idea how to actually use it in context. If you're working on altissimo, don't forget to think about where you may use it.

Also, I don't think it's been said yet - take your sax to a tech for a service if you haven't done so recently. Your sax may be in perfect shape, but small leaks that you would normally play through without even noticing can make altissimo impossible.
 

Guenne

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,250
Locality
Austria
Hi,
practicing stuff to be able to get altissimo should be part of one's daily practice routine, even if one doesn't plan to go altissimo :)
(Stole that from Rascher)

Cheers,
Guenne
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,872
Hi,
practicing stuff to be able to get altissimo should be part of one's daily practice routine, even if one doesn't plan to go altissimo :)
(Stole that from Rascher)

Cheers,
Guenne
I'm not convinced. But as I don't play in the altissimo reg. I can't really comment. Basically I can't see my tone or flexibility being much different. But for some Coltrane transcriptions I am working on, I will need to play the F# and G so watch this space. BTW. I am very happy with the noise I make.:)
 

Guenne

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,250
Locality
Austria
Hi Jamesmac,

playing in the altissimo register improved my sound in the regular range.
You have to improve efficiency in sound production if you want to play there in a controlled way.
This will lead to improvement in the normal register.

For instance, I practiced Scales in overtones.
I started fingering low Bb, playing a Bb major scale from one octave higher, of course without OK.
Then I fingered the same, but this time started sounding from the 5th (F).
Then sounding from Bb two octaves higher (Bb with OK).
Same on B and C.

Seems to be a good warmup for me.

Cheers,
Guenne
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sue

Sue

One prosecco, two prosecco, three prosecco - floor
Café Supporter
Messages
2,557
Locality
The Millenium Falcon
Hi,
practicing stuff to be able to get altissimo should be part of one's daily practice routine, even if one doesn't plan to go altissimo :)
(Stole that from Rascher)

Cheers,
Guenne
I agree with this. Since I started the daily exercises in Rascher's Top Tones, I think it has helped develop my tone. This is due to the long tone/overtone exercises in the book, I would imagine. I can now reach some of altissimo notes with relative ease, although I am not confident enough to use them in an actual playing situation. I suppose any long tone or overtone exercises would achieve similar results but I found this book helped me focus and helped me learn how to hear a note before I play it.

You can view the book here http://valdez.dumarsengraving.com/TopTonesfortheSaxophone.pdf
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,872
:)T
Hi Jamesmac,

playing in the altissimo register improved my sound in the regular range.
You have to improve efficiency in sound production if you want to play there in a controlled way.
This will lead to improvement in the normal register.

For instance, I practiced Scales in overtones.
I started fingering low Bb, playing a Bb major scale from one octave higher, of course without OK.
Then I fingered the same, but this time started sounding from the 5th (F).
Then sounding from Bb two octaves higher (Bb with OK).
Same on B and C.

Seems to be a good warmup for me.

Cheers,
Guenne

Thanks Guenne.
The front F on my 10M is not sounding, and the instrument needs a check over after a repad, so perhaps after a tune up. We will see.:)
 

Guenne

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,250
Locality
Austria
Hi,
you could use the "E flute fingering" for high F.
1st, 2nd finger on both left and right hand, OK.

Cheers,
Guenne
 

Members online

Popular Discussions

London
Paris
New York
Los Angeles
Sydney
Moscow
New Delhi
Top Bottom