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Practicing Overtones

Marcello

Senior Member
Messages
228
Locality
Anderson, South Carolina
Hi Guys,


I play the tenor sax
I am working my overtones and am finding some difficulties.
Here is the issue, if I make the lower Bb position I can play fairly easy the Bb one octave above and the F above that.
However to hit that higher Bb (2 octaves above the fundamental Bb) I have to do a lot of effort ad not all the times it comes.
When I go to B the higher B (2 octaves above the fundamental Bb) is even harder.
Moving up to C, C#the problem persists.
When I move to D and D# I can't even get the fifth above the second octave.

I have seem this video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Be9EQnQ0MEQ&feature=share&list=PLcVPYXBKh-zIqVFxObCcvU9PTkvYJxAJt

and he mentions about tongue position and the oral cavity changes.
No matter what I do with my tongue I can't get the high pitches.

I would like to ask how you guys practice this and what is your trick to get those high notes?
I must confess that since I have changed my embouchure by moving the mouthpiece out of my mouth I also found much more difficult to achieve the palm keys notes and also keep the middle C# on tune.

Can anybody help on this?

Thanks,
Marcello
 

Pete Thomas

Well-Known Member
Commercial Supporter
Messages
15,443
Locality
St. Mary's
Yes, it is difficult, and becomes more difficult the higher you get.

Once you get that second octave Bb, instead of starting agin on the B fundamental, try holding it just change you fingering to low B so you slur into the same overtone on semitone higher.

It is very hard to teach mouth and tongue position over the internet especially as it varies from playerv to player. It's a combination of trial/error (re: embouchure) and improving your breath support.

(NB: there is more on this in taming The Saxophone vol 1)
 

fibracell

Senior Member
Messages
616
I've been through this, and I found it very difficult and frustrating trying to get them, and what's worse is that everyone says stuff about oral cavity and tongue position, and wel,l nothing seems to work. The thing is to tell yourself to keep trying and that eventually you will start to get them.

The mouthpiece only exercises will really help a lot, and once you can get used to changing the pitch just using the strange concept of oral cavity and tongue, the overtones will become easier. Once you get to the point of getting high D and F off low Bb, then the others will fall into place.

Just be very patient and give it time- but I know exactly what it's like not being able to get them, and how annoying it is - not to mention to the wife!!

cheers - Rob
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,329
Locality
London
A good exercise is playing a middle Bb with a regular fingering, then finger a low Bb holding the sound.
The same with F2, Bb2, D3 F3....

Then move half step higher: B1, F#2, B2....

I think this exercise is also in some Liebman book, more useful than the traditional Rascher.

I would not be overly worried if C# (and above) harmonics are out of tune or hard to achieve. Every instrument/mouthpiece combo can be quite moody with some overtones
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
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8,733
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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
An easy way to begin to get the concept of "voicing" overtones or harmonics is to practice whistling. Whistle a low note while anchoring the tip of the tongue behind the lower front teeth and then change the whistle to a higher note. Then go higher still. Notice what you are doing with the position and shape of the tongue and with the airstream as the pitch of the whistle goes higher. Now try to repeat these sensations as you attempt to play the various overtones above the fundamental.

Once you get the overtone you want, then play it as a long tone. Then practice setting the voicing first and then coming in on that note. With practice and repetition you will learn the "taste" of that particular note just like brass players do in their normal playing. Sometimes it helps to practice harmonics with a reed that is a bit stiffer than those your normally play on.

If anyone is interested in the acoustics of playing harmonics and in the altissimo range go to: Saxophones and the vocal tract
 

fibracell

Senior Member
Messages
616
before I forget - one more thing I remember. Try low Bb and flick the palm D to get the over tone, trying to get the overtone to sustain. And also try using K or Q to articulate the overtone note...
 

Guenne

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,240
Locality
Austria
Hi,
there is a book I would recommend:
"Voicing" by Don Sinta.
I would also suggest practicing bending notes (halftone, wholetone, probably more) down without changes in embouchure.
I think you have to get the concept of getting pitch without pinching the reed.
This process probably should start with the first lesson.
So I would do MPC-Exercises too.
There is a good explanation here:
Saxophone Frequently Asked Questions

And keep in mind:
Even if you can do it, it doesn't sound good, hehe:
Bildschirmfoto%202013-10-05%20um%2011.06.30.png


https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/6518653/Saxophonforum.de/Midside/Robusto/A-Dur-Obert%C3%B6ne.mp3

Greetings,
Guenne
 
Last edited:

Marcello

Senior Member
Messages
228
Locality
Anderson, South Carolina
Hi,
there is a book I would recommend:
"Voicing" by Don Sinta.
I would also suggest practicing bending notes (halftone, wholetone, probably more) down without changes in embouchure.
I think you have to get the concept of getting pitch without pinching the reed.
This process probably should start with the first lesson.
So I would do MPC-Exercises too.
There is a good explanation here:
Saxophone Frequently Asked Questions

And keep in mind:
Even if you can do it, it doesn't sound good, hehe:
Bildschirmfoto%202013-10-05%20um%2011.06.30.png


https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/6518653/Saxophonforum.de/Midside/Robusto/A-Dur-Obert%C3%B6ne.mp3

Greetings,
Guenne

Hi Guenne,
I think I didn't take the time to come back to this post and thank you.
This link you provided has good stuff, so thanks..! :thumb:

I can tell you that I am able to start on a G (I play the tenor) and bend it down to C# sometimes C. Up I can go up to A# only.
The thing is, I can do that only by variation the speed of the air and some embouchure change as well. In other words I want to say that no matter what I do with my tongue I can't get much variation on the pitch.
With the mouthpiece alone I can play it up and down (not perfect).
When I put it with the horn, it does not work.
If I take the Bb to start my overtone exercise, I can go (legatto) from Bb low, Bb medium and F Medium but cannot get the High Bb without pitching the reed.
When I move to B fingering it is the same...
However If I get the high notes first, I can easily move down.
Does anybody else experience(d) this?
Is there anything else I could do?

Thanks Again,
Marcello
 
Last edited:

Marcello

Senior Member
Messages
228
Locality
Anderson, South Carolina
A good exercise is playing a middle Bb with a regular fingering, then finger a low Bb holding the sound.
The same with F2, Bb2, D3 F3....

Then move half step higher: B1, F#2, B2....

I think this exercise is also in some Liebman book, more useful than the traditional Rascher.

I would not be overly worried if C# (and above) harmonics are out of tune or hard to achieve. Every instrument/mouthpiece combo can be quite moody with some overtones

Hi Aldevis,
I have done this as well after reading this and some other stuff.
For me it works well on the low Bb fingering. I can play the higher Bb (2 octaves above the fundamental) and change the fingering to the lower Bb and still sustain.
However when I move to the Low B fingering, there is no way that I can sustain the higher B (2 octaves above the fundamental) on the low B fingering. If I change to C#, C, etc... it is all the same.
My problem on the C# is not really on harmonics but on the regular fingering (no finger at all ;})

Thanks and glad if you have any further comments.

Cheers,
Marcello
 

Marcello

Senior Member
Messages
228
Locality
Anderson, South Carolina
I've been through this, and I found it very difficult and frustrating trying to get them, and what's worse is that everyone says stuff about oral cavity and tongue position, and wel,l nothing seems to work. The thing is to tell yourself to keep trying and that eventually you will start to get them.

The mouthpiece only exercises will really help a lot, and once you can get used to changing the pitch just using the strange concept of oral cavity and tongue, the overtones will become easier. Once you get to the point of getting high D and F off low Bb, then the others will fall into place.

Just be very patient and give it time- but I know exactly what it's like not being able to get them, and how annoying it is - not to mention to the wife!!

cheers - Rob

Hi Rob,
Thanks for the comments.
I can get even the Higher Bb out off low Bb fingering but still struggling on other things...
My wife did complain already when I do the mouthpiece only exercise.
"Do you really need to do this annoying exercise for 10 or 15 min??" hehehehe

Cheers,
Marcello
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,329
Locality
London
Hi Aldevis,
However when I move to the Low B fingering, there is no way that I can sustain the higher B (2 octaves above the fundamental) on the low B fingering. If I change to C#, C, etc... it is all the same.

Let's call Bb2 the Bb above the staff with normal fingering and Bb2o the same sound (4th) harmonic of low Bb. Similarly F2o Bb1o....
F2-F2o. F#2-F#2o
Then F2-F2o-F#2o (moving the left pinky)
Same thing on Bb2-Bb2o-Bo

My problem on the C# is not really on harmonics but on the regular fingering (no finger at all ;})

This is the punishment that has been sent upon saxophone players for being too cool. I think Selmer III alto has a compensation system similar to the soprano just for that note (not sure though).

It could be due to many, many, reasons.

Have fun

Aldevis
 

Little My

Practice makes better.
Messages
401
Locality
Wiltshire, UK.
Yes, it is difficult, and becomes more difficult the higher you get.

Once you get that second octave Bb, instead of starting agin on the B fundamental, try holding it just change you fingering to low B so you slur into the same overtone on semitone higher.

It is very hard to teach mouth and tongue position over the internet especially as it varies from playerv to player. It's a combination of trial/error (re: embouchure) and improving your breath support.

(NB: there is more on this in taming The Saxophone vol 1)

The link to Taming the Saxophone vol 1 is here - http://tamingthesaxophone.com/product/taming-saxophone-vol-1 - I can recommend it, although I'm only just starting on my overtone journey.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,329
Locality
London
Overtones are the 4th main cause of divorce among saxophone players.
 

Guenne

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,240
Locality
Austria
Hi Marcello,

What I am going to write now is theory, and I really don't think about it while playing :)

I think the necessary movements in the soft palate and the back part of the tongue can only take place precisely when you let them happen.
The imagination of exhaling through the nose, not the mouth (though impossible) while playing might help you, as it softens the areas that have to react to the stimulus of pitch.

Cheers,
Guenne
 

Marcello

Senior Member
Messages
228
Locality
Anderson, South Carolina
This is the punishment that has been sent upon saxophone players for being too cool. I think Selmer III alto has a compensation system similar to the soprano just for that note (not sure though).

It could be due to many, many, reasons.

Have fun

Aldevis

Am I supposed to thank you for this sad true..? :thumb:
hehehehe

Thank you for making me feel better...

Cheers,
Marcello
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Locality
Just north of Munich
Thanks Kev.
Will check it out later on.

I have downloaded the David Liebman's one, is it any similar?

Cheers,
Marcello

I guess you mean Developing a Personal Saxophone Sound. No, Liebman's about sound, Sinta's about altissimo.
 

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