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Beginner Use of the octave key

TimboSax

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This is probably a daft question, but...

I'm wondering how low I can go with the octave key depressed. As an example, say I'm playing a D, with all 6 "main" finger keys (sorry, don't know the correct terminology here) plus the octave key depressed. If I want to trill with C, I can release the octave, and play C just with my second finger left hand, and then alternate between the two. Bit of a faff, lots of fingers moving, not too easy for me at the moment. So instead, I keep the D fingering (with octave key) and use my right little finger to depress the lower of the two "sticky out keys" (damn this lack of terminology) at the bottom of the sax. Much easier, so far so good.

Thing is I can't consistently go lower than this with the octave key depressed. I can get B on my tenor, but not on my alto, and neither will play Bb. Instead I get an odd harmonic, which seems to oscillate around Gb.

Should I be able to sound B and Bb with the octave key depressed?

Hope this makes sense :confused:
 

dubrosa22

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If I were trilling middle staff D and C I'd not depress the octave at all and instead use the palm D key and 'normal' C fingering. The palm D without octave can sound a little flat or 'hollow' but generally fine for a trill.

I haven't much explored playing low with the octave open since doing it by mistake in the early days! Now I'm curious so I'll give it a shot :)
 
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TimboSax

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Ah good point, bad example on my part, I was just trying to explain whereabouts I was on the keys. :)

I'm not sure it's necessary/desirable/possible to get a B or a Bb this way. If not, then I can ignore it. If it is, then I may have something else to practice!
 

jbtsax

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You might also try the regular C fingering and trill to D by adding the Eb palm key. That's the middle one of the three. This is the "regular" C to D trill fingering. The saxophone is constructed to open its first octave vent (body octave) on the notes 4th line D and above until high A and then the sax automatically switches to the neck octave vent. When you press the octave key while trying to play notes below 4th line D its called a "leak". :)
 

dubrosa22

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Thanks jbtsax, my teacher taught me the regular C to palm D for C/D trills but I'll try the palm Eb instead :)
 

kevgermany

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To answer the rest of the orignal question, keys from low C and below aren't recognised fingerings with the octave key. You may be able to get some to work, but the notes are often unstable and out of tune.

However you should be able to develop your embouchure and breath control sufficiently to be ale to play the octaves on the body notes without the octave key, and later on be able to play the lower register with the octave key depressed, but this is a lot harder.

Ironically you first have to learn not to inadvertently jump/drop an octave before getting the control needed to do it at will.

Take a look at this guy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQyz34KZviM
 

TimboSax

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Thanks guys, I shall stop trying to get notes out of my sax that it doesn't want to do :D

Kev, quite often I find that I've got so into listening to what I'm playing that I've forgotten to press the octave key, but the octave note is still sounding as if I am pressing it. Of course, as soon as I realise this, I tend to get a bit confused and lose the plot completely, but for those few seconds I am truly feeling the force!
 

Colin the Bear

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Sounds like your embouchure and control is coming along nicely. The fingers and the tube are there to assist the embouchure and reed. Pitch and tone come from you in the main part. It's good to play around and see what your setup is capable of. Unorthodox fingerings can produce some interesting effects. Some useful some not lol.
 

sushidushi

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Those funny sticky out bits are useful then...?

I sometimes use C in the way Timbosax describes, if most of my fingers are pressing down anyway. I'll have to try the proper way when I get home... :)
 

jbtsax

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Adding to the "esoterics". :D The low C# fingering with the octave key added is sometimes useful in classical slow passages where the C# is preceded or followed by a 4th line D. This is used when trying to match the "timbre" of the notes in a phrase depending upon the mood and/or tempo of a piece. On some saxes this fingering speaks better by lifting the first finger as well. The short tube open C# by its nature is a very "dry" sounding note especially when sounded next to the warmer and rounder long tube D.
 

sushidushi

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C# (open) is probably the worst sounding note on my saxophone. It sounds flat even to my tone deaf ears, though sometimes seems a bit better if I press as key or two with my right hand. I'll have to try the low C# with the octave key, but trying to coordinate 8 fingers and a thumb might prove to be its downfall.
 

TimboSax

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I know what you mean. While it's okay on my tenor, it does sound pretty 'orrible on my alto. My reading here and elsewhere suggests that this is not too unusual. Have you tried an alternate fingering? One I've come across is the octave key plus the third finger of the left hand (the G key)
 

sushidushi

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I know what you mean. While it's okay on my tenor, it does sound pretty 'orrible on my alto. My reading here and elsewhere suggests that this is not too unusual. Have you tried an alternate fingering? One I've come across is the octave key plus the third finger of the left hand (the G key)

I hadn't tried that. The children have just gone to bed, so I can't try it right now, but if that works for me it will be well worth remembering :beer:
 

saxnik

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I know what you mean. While it's okay on my tenor, it does sound pretty 'orrible on my alto. My reading here and elsewhere suggests that this is not too unusual. Have you tried an alternate fingering? One I've come across is the octave key plus the third finger of the left hand (the G key)

Good call - I use this on slow/quiet passages.
D or D# palm key for trills - neither's wrong, it depends which is more in tune on your horn.
'Long' C# (like low C# but with octave key) I use now and again as jbtsax says for quick dips down from D. It's all about which fingering sounds best on the sax you're using in the context you're using it...

Nick
 

sushidushi

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I tried the third finger of the left hand with the octave key, and it is SO much better than playing the thing completely open. I just have to try to remember to release the octave key when the following note doesn't require it... :eek:
 

TimboSax

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I tried the third finger of the left hand with the octave key, and it is SO much better than playing the thing completely open. I just have to try to remember to release the octave key when the following note doesn't require it... :eek:

Yep, sounds better to me too, but it'll be a while before my fingers agree!
 

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