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Overtones v Altissimo

Jeanette

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Hi and welcome to café saxophone.

I've moved your thread from Forum Tech Support as that part of the forum is for technical questions around the forum so it may not get a good response there.

Please do pop over to the doorbell section and introduce yourself, you will get to know our members much quicker then :)

Jx
 

Pete Thomas

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When it's higher than an F above the staff. Everything above middle C# is an overtone.
This is true. The altissimo range is anything above the top F, and although all notes in the altissimo are overtones, not all overtones in that range are used as altissimo, either due to difficulty of sounding the note or because of intonation. Often additionial fingerings are added to the straight overtone to help with response or intonation, though theoretically if you learned all your overtones you might be able to use any of them for altissmo.
 

jbtsax

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That is a clever observation that all notes in the 2nd octave above C# are "overtones". I have always used the expression, "play 5th line F as an overtone" to mean play F in the second octave without the aid of the octave key. When the octave vent opens and "detunes" the fundamental to where the 2nd harmonic takes over there is no voicing done by the player and the change is automatic. It seems like even if this can technically be called "playing an overtone", it is doing so by cheating. :)

I would add to the mix to answer the OP's excellent question that playing "overtones" requires the use of a regular fingering of a note generally in the lower register of the saxophone. On the other hand playing an "altissimo" note generally requires a "cross fingering" which involves an open tonehole followed by a closed tonehole.

This also begs the question of whether high F and E when played with the front fingering are "altissimo" notes, and when played with the palm keys are part of the regular range of the saxophone. How about high F# with and without the use of a high F# key. This also ties into an interesting discussion I once had on SOTW about whether "harmonics" have harmonics of their own.
 

aldevis

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This is true. The altissimo range is anything above the top F, and although all notes in the altissimo are overtones, not all overtones in that range are used as altissimo

Would you call differently front F3 and palm keys F3?
I consider front F3 (not palmF3) the first altissimo note, but there might be some confusion with my own use terms.
 

Pete Thomas

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Would you call differently front F3 and palm keys F3?
I consider front F3 (not palmF3) the first altissimo note, but there might be some confusion with my own use terms.
Not really. I would define altissimo as anything beyond the regular fingering to F. Of course in the ninteenth century I suppose Eb might have been the most common top note, and then since the second half of the twentieth century F# and G started appearing, so maybe the definition of altissmo is a moveable feast depending on the saxophone you have, however even with an F# saxophone, I'd generally use the old F# altissimo fingering of aux F plus Bb side.

My bass only goes to Eb, so if I managed to somehow get an E out of it, I would call that altissimo.
 

BigMartin

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Would you call differently front F3 and palm keys F3?
I consider front F3 (not palmF3) the first altissimo note, but there might be some confusion with my own use terms.
<pedantic>What about the E played with the front F key?</pedantic>

I tend to agree, you have to blow/voice the two fingerings differently.
 

jbtsax

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That explanation is indeed simple. The acoustic science behind producing of harmonics and the altissimo register is anything but simple.
 

aldevis

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<pedantic>What about the E played with the front F key?</pedantic>

I tend to agree, you have to blow/voice the two fingerings differently.

Is there a way to call them? I used to say "harmonic" E or F, since it is a higher overtone, like an A or a G with the top F key as an additional speaker, but I am prone to terminology disasters (like key signature/accidentals or tie/slur).
 

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