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Beginner Two key or not two key?

RobatBlueRock

Member
Messages
100
Location
Forest Of Dean, Gloucestershire
Cos I'm essentially a guitarist looking to try something else..tenor sax, I have a slight problem with my music theory.
I learned and still play guitar (quite well now after 30 years) generally by ear. I occasionally look at some music to help nail the odd P.Floyd guitar solo, but even then it's often TAB or I buy a standard music book for guitar/piano etc.

Obviously the Tenor is a Bb instrument and you would normally have to transpose etc.

But since I usually play with other guitar players and occasionally
keyboard players, I'm thinking 'why try and transpose the music?'
Why learn a set of note positions which I then have to transpose?

Can't I simply find a key position on the sax which plays, say an E and say..well that's E then, and work from there?. I know it's cheating. Am I really bad to be thinking this way? >:)
It seems daft to me to learn a note position which is called Bb but it's actually a C (concert pitch) to my guitarist's ears.
 

Mikec

Member
Messages
201
Location
Buckinghamshire, UK
Yes, of course you can. You would just have to learn a different set of fingerings for Eb and Bb saxes if you wanted to double up. I met a very good sax player recently who sight reads both saxes from concert pitch music as well as anyone can, and always has done.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Just north of Munich
I presumed that you would have to learn different fingering between Bb tenor and Eb alto to produce the same concert pitch note anyway?
Yes, which is why the suggestion was made to get a C Melody/Tenor. This makes the named keys, fingering automatically in concert pitch (an octave down for the C Melody/Tenor). You may also find a C Soprano around. There are also some saxes pitched in F, but these are old and rare.

The commonly found saxes are either in Bb or Eb,alternating between sizes so Bass, Tenor and Soprano are in Bb, and Contra Bass, Bari and Alto are in Eb.

Sticking to one key means one set of fingering to learn. Your method may work for you. Depends on you. I found switching between C and D whistles and C and D music really confusing,so quickly started transposing. However my wife can transpose as she sight reads a piece... :welldone
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
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3,401
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Sweden
Being a Rocksaxplayer you have to be able to play the Rock 'n' Roll keys A and E (concerts). Lot's of songs are in these keys. On the tenor/soprano it's B and F#. On bari/alto it's F# and C#. I love these keys. Players like King Curtis, Noble "Thin Man" Watts often played in F#. For some years ago we did a workshop called BluesSax Workout in A and E. The CD (scales, licks, patterns, riffs, play alongs on both EB and Bb saxes) helps you to learn and get used to play in these keys. Maybe I can upload a sample.

If you have a C sax don't bring them to a Rock gig or a Blues jam! I've tried! Eggs, tomatoes, flat tires, sneaking home ....

Thomas
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
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3,626
Location
Rugby UK
As a non music reader myself, I do exactly what your suggesting, if I play a note on the sax that sounds like a concert A, I call it....A simple. The only problem arises when I have a technical problem with a certain key on the sax, I can't tell the tech which key it is. I think you'll find that Pete learnt in this fashion as he's basically self taught as well (I think I've got the right)
The only other time you'll have problems is when your playing with others who do transpose. It gets a little confusing then.
Good luck with it.
 
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RobatBlueRock

RobatBlueRock

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Messages
100
Location
Forest Of Dean, Gloucestershire
Thanks for the responses.
I have already ordered my Unlaquered BW (Eb) tenor off Birdman yesterday, so the C melody thing is out anyway.
I think, as long as I'm not frowned upon as a lesser sax mortal, I will rationalise it by calling the note I hear on the sax the same as what I play on guitar and makes the LED's light up on my Tuner!!:)))
I appreciate, it may cause me problems when playing with other sax players, I guess I'll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.:welldone
 
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dooce

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1,415
Location
Daventry
Being a Rocksaxplayer you have to be able to play the Rock 'n' Roll keys A and E (concerts). Lot's of songs are in these keys. On the tenor/soprano it's B and F#. On bari/alto it's F# and C#. I love these keys.
I'm sorry? You "love" playing in F# and C#? I know we have to do it to accomodate bl**dy guitar players, but I give a little whoop of joy every time I get a piece in concert Bb or C.

Mind you there is a bit of smug satisfaction to be had from blatting out a good solo in 6 or 7 sharps while the rest of the band plod along in a nice safe key......

:D
 
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RobatBlueRock

RobatBlueRock

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100
Location
Forest Of Dean, Gloucestershire
Just out of interest, my other half plays Clarinet, Bb I think.
I bought her a Sop a couple of years back (which granted doesn't play very well..I'm told), she didn't really get on with it.

Someone told her that perhaps she should try the Alto because it would be an easier change from the clarinet, hence I've got her one for xmas.
:shocked:I hope I've done the right thing, cos the Alto is a Eb instrument? Is the fingering going to be greatly different from the clarinet?
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
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Sweden
I'm sorry? You "love" playing in F# and C#? I know we have to do it to accomodate bl**dy guitar players, but I give a little whoop of joy every time I get a piece in concert B or C.

Mind you there is a bit of smug satisfaction to be had from blatting out a good solo in 6 or 7 sharps while the rest of the band plod along in a nice safe key......

:D
When I started to play sax I learned and listened to lots of songs that were in the guitar keys A and E. So it became natural for me. I'm more or less self taught so I'm not much of a reader. But I've have learned chord analysis so I can hit the nice tones in a solo.

I think the tenorsax sings very good in a Blues and Rock & Roll song in E concert (F# tenor).

On a gig or a jam the guitarist use to be the leader. So you always get a nice comment if you can make it easy for her/him. And if the guitarist sings, don't interrupt with your sax. The tenorsax and the human voice are in the same range.

Thomas
 
Just out of interest, my other half plays Clarinet, Bb I think.
I bought her a Sop a couple of years back (which granted doesn't play very well..I'm told), she didn't really get on with it.

Someone told her that perhaps she should try the Alto because it would be an easier change from the clarinet, hence I've got her one for xmas.
:shocked:I hope I've done the right thing, cos the Alto is a Eb instrument? Is the fingering going to be greatly different from the clarinet?
The Clarinet is more or less the same fingering as the Alto, even the pitch of the notes in the first register on the clarinet are the same as the Alto. The clarinet "break" point and second register however are different. I find the clarinet harder than the Alto overall, so it should be a very easy transition for your other half.

Peace

Flipp.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
RobatBlueRock,

Just had practical experience of why it might be best to learn the saxophone family fingering.

I am extremely mediocre on all the instruments possessed but because the tenor was learnt with conventional notation and fingering, was able to put a baritone saxophone demo part down using that nice Mr. Thomas's samples, which have to be initiated with correct saxophone fingering and pitch on an Electronic Wind Instrument.

The point being that although used to the Bb tenor, was able to play an Eb part with very little thought. Those better acquainted, know I'm capable of very little thought. :)
 

SteveK

Member
Messages
149
Location
Guildford, Surrey
RobatBlueRock

I learnt guitar first - without learning to read scores - on the positive side I can say that reading saxophone (monophonic) lead lines is simple compared to guitar music

My advise is - 'learn it properly'. You will very quickly learn how to think a minor third out.
If you don't you will regret it later and you will exclude yourself from an wealth of knowledge and opportunities of playing with other instruments - you will be limited to the alto and if you want to, for example, go to the tenor later (and you will) you will struggle to learn new finguring to note relationships and will probably undermine you existing hard earned alto abilities.

Steve
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
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3,401
Location
Sweden
I think the ”right” notes on saxes will come as you get along with the sax.

I learn songs by just listening and sometimes by reading. If I’m going to learn a new song by charts I use to read the notes and then play it by heart. Notes and signs are confusing for me. They don’t help me. I’m a very slow reader.

If I’m going to do a solo I write out the chord changes in words instead of notes and signs. Also to add some colours to the words is fine! Laugh if you want, but this helps me.

Here are chord changes and my own words/notes to a 12 bars blues solo that I played, or tried to play, some time ago:

1-4. The first measure I try to catch the groove by listening to the drummer. Slow start. I simply did a repetition on F# (2). Then playing some easy/safe licks on the chordtones. B(2), F#(2), D#(3) and B(3). I also did ”Doo-Wop” (double tone) on B. The volume and the intensity increased at the end of bar 4.
5-8. Loud and max! I tried to add some rocksaxeffects: Alternate fingers on D and A, altissimo B, heavy vibrato/big shake, growls, note bending on D#(3), long tones as loud as possible … . I was thinking of shouting out ”WALK AWAY!” with my sax.
9-12. Slow down and less intensity. First bar I tried to play/hit A#. Plan for the end of the solo. Play some low tones B(1), C#(1) or A#(1).

No notes. I’m thinking in words and colours. I think it’s primitive. I’ve spent a lot of time on my tone and Rocksaxeffects to compensate.
 

Jellybabybex

New Member
Messages
28
Location
York
The Clarinet is more or less the same fingering as the Alto, even the pitch of the notes in the first register on the clarinet are the same as the Alto. The clarinet "break" point and second register however are different. I find the clarinet harder than the Alto overall, so it should be a very easy transition for your other half.

Peace

Flipp.
Actually I disagree with the detail here (might be that I've misunderstood how you've worded it though...).

The bottom octave on the sax is different to the bottom register of the clarinet - i.e. all fingers down with no octave key on a sax is C, all fingers down on a clarinet is F. However, because the clarinet overblows at a 12th (i.e. when you put the register key down you go up a 12th instead of an octave like all other woodwind instruments), when you get into the second register, the fingering is the same as the sax - i.e. all fingers down with the register/octave key is a C on both.
 
Messages
56
Location
Isle of Skye
You said "It seems daft to me to learn a note position which is called Bb but it's actually a C (concert pitch) to my guitarist's ears. " I couldn't agree more. I'm a long time guitarist switching to tenor sax and I have the same problem. Why call it a note that it isn't? if it's an Eb call it an Eb.
 

SteveK

Member
Messages
149
Location
Guildford, Surrey
You said "It seems daft to me to learn a note position which is called Bb but it's actually a C (concert pitch) to my guitarist's ears. " I couldn't agree more. I'm a long time guitarist switching to tenor sax and I have the same problem. Why call it a note that it isn't? if it's an Eb call it an Eb.
Simple - the advantage of being able to play across several different instruments with the same fingering greatly exceeds the disadvantage of having to transpose music.
Steve
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Just north of Munich
Simple - the advantage of being able to play across several different instruments with the same fingering greatly exceeds the disadvantage of having to transpose music.
Steve
Couldn't agree more.

Simple, cheap experiment - get a couple of penny whistles, one in C and another in D. Play a tune in D on the D whistle. Easy - then try to play i in concert pitch on the C whistle... Painful. But play it with the smae fingering as the D whistle on the C whistle and you're playing in C, with notes in D... And all that's changed is the blowing, a little.
 
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