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Playing the 4th overtone is difficult


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Hey Guys!

After years of slacking off on this part of my playing, I have finally realized the importance of mastering the overtones on saxophone.

I am practicing out of "Top Tones for the Saxophone" by Sigmund Rascher.

I was wondering if anyone can offer me any advice on how to hit the desired partial of the lower register notes (Db, C,B,Bb). I am pretty comfortable with controlling the first three overtones, but the 4th gets very difficult. I am hearing the desired note clearly in my head, but still can only hit it sometimes. What else can I experiment with to get specific tones to pop out?

Thanks so much,
Hi Jake,

I've been working on overtones and found them to be very fustrating - but they will start to happen. You can try a few things. Play low Bb and hit the side D to pop out the overtone. Or play top D and then low Bb and see if it comes out. Another tip is try various vowel sounds like Q or K. I found that Q worked well to get them to start and get a feel for the throat/tongue position. After that just keep at it everyday for a few minutes and they will start to happen. The results will vary with different mouthpieces and reeds - just like everything else!
Try shaping the lips and blowing that pitch on an "airwhistle" apart from the saxophone. When you can do that successfully, then try playing the overtone with the same airstream and shape inside the mouth. As a general rule when going from one overtone to the next higher one, the back of the tongue arches a bit higher in the mouth. While holding the 3rd overtone, speed up the air and think more "EE" shape with the tongue. This usually works for me.

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