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Overtones: Which is (are) the hardest to play on Bb?

randulo

Playing alto 2 1/2 years
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So it came to pass that among my many small practice tasks, I'm playing overtones. It seemed to be an important, if annoying (especially to the spousal unit) part of learning to make a better noise on the tube and holes. I will admit, there is one I just can't find and another that's very hard.
1 Bb root - fine
2 Octave 1st no problem and can do it all the way up to the high C
3 Fifth, ok on Bb, B, C, C# and maybe D when it's raining.
4 2nd octave, rarely but with a trick always. (Cheat=pressing the D# key)
5 Third - almost never hear it, only once
The rest, ninths, b sevenths and sixths are all in there, but I can't hit on them accurately.

Is it normal that the D (number 5) is almost impossible? I've tried lots of reeds, even a couple of mouthpieces, and none get me there.
 

GCinCT

Seeker of truth and beauty
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I have never been able to hit that D. I've stumbled on it a couple of times. I practice overtones everyday. I can get the 5th up to my first A, second octave, Bb, B and C if I slur to it. But the D is just brutally hard for me.
 

Jazzaferri

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It’s just practice and more practice.

Top Tones for Saxophones exercises over and over and over
 

Keep Blowing

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One of the first overtone exercises in the Ben Britton book is, playing bottom D and then middle D without using the octave key, continue up to to Middle C"/high C*,
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 1/2 years
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playing bottom D and then middle D without using the octave key, continue up to to Middle C"/high C*,
I've been able to do that for a while. Recently, I've been doing it daily. It's a good exercise for many things.
 

Mark Hancock

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One of the first overtone exercises in the Ben Britton book is, playing bottom D and then middle D without using the octave key, continue up to to Middle C"/high C*,
I've been trying to get the high D for months now with no luck. I just tried this exercise once. No problem. Then I went back to Bb overtones and the D just popped out from nowhere. I've never even heard a hint of the D before. Can't be sure of the cause/ effect, but finally!
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 1/2 years
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I mentioned this above without a link. Since it's related to this discussion, I'll add the link. I was going to do a full post on it. I think this is a good book with some interesting old timer stories and wisdom from Michael Brecker, Lenny Pickett and many other stellar players Perez has met and worked with. Michael Brecker is quoted as saying, “Don’t be afraid to take what you can use and discard the rest.” Definitely my own core philosophy over my entire career. Of course, Mike could say that, he appeared to capable of anything!

The book's actual content about exercises and such seems to be the same as numerous other sources, but I find it explained well with good detail. As @Jazzaferri says above, "Practice and more practice".

On a more personal note, Perez says something very lucid about the alto, my choice. Going up way high is not the same effect as on tenor. It made me realize that ordinarily, you probably don't want to go higher than A (concert C) on the alto. I can get up several half tones higher, but they probably won't be useful in real life. In fact, it's pretty easy on my alto to play a high Bb (Db concert, so already above that high C) by overblowing long fingered Bb. It has a better, more stable sound because the entire tube is closed.
This whole concept of overtones as a way to improve embouchure and throat position is a revelation and non-intuitive to saxophone beginners.
Screen Shot 2020-02-26 at 13.26.15.png
 

GCinCT

Seeker of truth and beauty
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On a more personal note, Perez says something very lucid about the alto, my choice. Going up way high is not the same effect as on tenor. It made me realize that ordinarily, you probably don't want to go higher than A (concert C) on the alto. I can get up several half tones higher, but they probably won't be useful in real life. In fact, it's pretty easy on my alto to play a high Bb (Db concert, so already above that high C) by overblowing long fingered Bb. It has a better, more stable sound because the entire tube is closed.
This is interesting. Alto is also my choice and I think what I like most about it is the upper register. When I improvise, I tend to play up there most of the time. But I see your point about the very high altissimo notes. I can get up to C# (concert E) but they get pretty shrill up that far, so perhaps not so useful.

Thanks for posting the link to the book. I will most likely purchase a copy.
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 1/2 years
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but they get pretty shrill up that far,
Yes, that was his point, especially when amplified. It's a question of taste.
purchase a copy.
There's a $3 discount code. I saw it on YouTube. I'll grab it in a moment.
Try this and use SAXSPY as discount.
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 1/2 years
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It feels like the Playing in the Attic exercises are helping me reach the 4th one (two octaves from the first), at least sometimes I can hit them on the Bb and B. I've still only heard the magic 5th overtone (third above the second octave) once and just can't get it yet. This stuff does help a lot with control.
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 1/2 years
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it’ll come given time in practice
I'm tempted to ask how much time, but I know the answer. A long time. I've been able to play the first two for a long time. It seems disproportionate to have to work another year for the next one to come out. :)
 

Halfers

Finger Flapper
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I can get the first couple out, but it's hit and miss above that. I don't have the attention span to persevere for more than a few moments, so I live in the hope that someday, somewhere, the next level of overtones will reveal itself from and to the mystery of life.

I struggle to understand what overtones achieve in normal everyday playing. Does it lend further depth, texture and flavour to the normal range of playing? More umami to the tone? Or is it more useful for High Peak Altissimo wanderings?
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 1/2 years
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I struggle to understand what overtones achieve in normal everyday playing. Does it lend further depth, texture and flavour to the normal range of playing? More umami to the tone? Or is it more useful for High Peak Altissimo wanderings?
I feel that it helps control embouchure and airstream. It's pretty much what he says in the book, but I feel it having an effect. It certainly gets altissimo working better, but also allows a wide range of sound. My own problem is working on 50 things at once, this being one of them.
 

Jazzaferri

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In my experience after a few hundred hours of long overtones I found my control over my sonic palette became closer to be unconscious and my breadth of palette got wider.

Having to reinforce that learning after my forced layoff from practice For a year.
 

davidk

Paints With Notes
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352
By playing just the mouthpiece you can get a feel for the different airstream configurations available. With practice, you can play down an octave scale. (Jazzlab makes a mouthpiece silencer for slightly quieter practice of this exercise: SILENCER – JAZZLAB )

Once you have these configurations set, they provide a library of airstreams available for your overtone production, and one of them should provide the overtone you're looking for. You also need to have the note in your head before playing it.
 
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