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Backing Tracks Where to get background music for sax

geoplay

New Member
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2
I am new to sax playing. I play some guitar and am not very good in playing chords & other technical skills necessary for good guitar playing. Anyway, I have decided to give saxophone a try with the idea that it is a single note instrument so it should be more straight forward for beginner & intermediate players & I have always liked the dreamy sound of saxophone. So, I am thinking of buying got an Allora alto professional, about $1100 to get some decent sound. I have few questions:

  • Has any body played this sax & do you have any opinion on this sax?

  • For playing, should I use 1.5, 2.0, or 2.5 reed. I am more interested in learning the instrument & play music rather than constantly dealing with the challenge of creating sound/notes.

  • On youtube I see people playing background music to their sax. Where do I get/download background music for different songs? Do I need to get a software for that? In general, are there some software I need to buy to become a better sax player?

  • what is the best site for getting music sheet for alto. I have tones of guitar songs. I think I can just play the notes & not be worry about anything if I am just playing by myself. But, if I want to play with background music I guess need to be in tune & transpose guitar notes. Right?
Thanks for your comments
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
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Hi Geoplay, welcome to the cafe. We would love to hear more about you - why don't you pop along to the Doorbell and introduce yourself.

lots of questions, I'm sure someone knowledgeable will be along with answers soon.

Q1 - I can't help, I've never heard of it.
Q2 - the reed strength depends on lots of factors, including the mouthpiece. But if you've got a middle-of-the-range mouthpiece, then I'd suggest starting on the softer reed (the 1.5) and working up in strength until you are happy with what you hear, how comfortable you feel playing it etc. Reed strengths can be a compromise between ease of playing and good sounding notes etc.
Q3 - you can use software like IRealB, Band in a Box etc to create backing tracks. Or you can sometimes download tracks either free or for a small payment. "Karaoke version" is a good web-site for getting backing tracks.
Q4 - there is a lot of free sheet music on the web, or you could get some of the "Guest Spot" books or "minus one" books, both of which come with a CD backing track and the sheet music. The CD usually has 2 versions of the song, one with a sax player and one without, so you can have help in the early days and then play solo later. Make sure you get the right version of the books (alto or tenor)

there will be lots of other suggestions along soon.
 

Jay

Well-Known Member
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1,338
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Northumberland
Hi Geoplay,
I'm really new too, just beginning the tenor. I don't know the saxophone you're thinking of buying so I'll leave that to the experts.

I started with a 1.5 reed just so that I could get the bottom notes. And I've move to a 2 now (three weeks in) - and am trying out some 2.5s - this make measures 'soft' though so really just 2+.

There are all sorts of books with play-along CDs. I have borrowed a couple of the GuestSpot ones from my teacher and I really like them. The melody line (the dots) is written out with several little variations, so it stays interesting and you get to see how you could start to improvise a tiny bit. The backing is good and, as Mandy says, you get two tracks per song, one with a saxophone playing the tune, so you can see how it sounds and where you are in the music. And then one without, so you can take the solo on your own.

I bought a different play along book myself, and it's nowhere near as good.

A clarinet playing friend recommend iRealPro, which has backing tracks to a whole host of 'jazz standards', ie common jazz songs, and then people add backing for other songs too on the forums which you can download. You can change the key the backing tracks are in, so that's good. Then you just need a book with the dots in, and off you go.

I am having so much fun! I hope you do too.

People here are very friendly and help you out kindly with beginner worries.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
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3,964
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Manchester, UK
  • For playing, should I use 1.5, 2.0, or 2.5 reed. I am more interested in learning the instrument & play music rather than constantly dealing with the challenge of creating sound/notes.
I feel slightly uncomfortable about saying this in a sax forum, but...

If that's the case, I think you should think seriously about trying a different instrument (some variety of keyboard, maybe?). If you take up the saxophone, you should expect to be developing/refining/maintaning your sound production technique for the whole of your playing career. There is much, much more to making a good sax sound than buying a good instrument and the "right" reeds (which those are depends on mouthpiece, instrument, personal preference, type of sound you want to make, etc). It can be fascinating to learn, but you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time just improving how you play single notes.

I didn't mean any disrespect to keyboard players above, btw. They have to work on their sound, too, but I don't think it's as central to the whole process as it is with wind instruments.
 

zelda

On the border
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547
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British Columbia interior, Canada
Hi and welcome to the Café, geoplay.
I'll add Ralph Patt - The Vanilla Book. You can't change the tempo or key but they're free and downloadable. Just type in 'backing track' for whatever tune you're interested in. I buy backing tracks from a variety of sources and that's how I source them.
Jim
 
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kernewegor

Bon vivant, raconteur and twit
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cocks hill perranporth KERNOW
I'd suggest that you hire a saxophone for a couple of months and see if you get on with it. If you then decide to buy the instrument, some firms will knock off what you have paid for the hire.

But you really need a teacher or an experienced player to get you started, otherwise you will not know if any problem you find is due to the instrument or yourself.

All the advice and information you can get online could still leave you getting things wrong - choosing reeds, setting them up, embouchure, holding the instrument, posture, breathing, getting notes, tonguing, etc. etc. - which a teacher or sax player would put you right about. Some things really need to be done face to face.

What you spend on hire and a few lessons could easily save you serious money and time wasted.

The first thing would be for your teacher/experienced player to check out the instrument - preferably before you buy.

Even new and expensive saxophones from reputable makers may be impossible or difficult to play merely because of very minor adjustments or tweaks. They are complicated bits of machinery.

But beware that experts are only human and often opinionated about makes of instruments... two experts might give you four different opinions...

There are very good student instruments available now compared with a few years ago. See this link for information on that and much else. A few hours browsing through the various sections should give you a better idea of what you might want to do...

http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/
 
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jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Jumping into playing songs with no experience playing the saxophone to me is like trying to read stories before learning the alphabet. That said I would recommend starting with a method book that teaches the notes and rhythms one by one introducing simple tunes as you go along. One that I used successfully in my teaching for many years is Bruce Pearson's Standard of Excellence. Both book I and II come with an accompaniment CD. If you work through both of these books it will give you a solid foundation to play the songs you like with backing tracks. In other words, there are no shortcuts---you need to learn to play the saxophone first.

I prefer my students start on a #2 Rico reed or equivalent so the embouchure muscle tone, and proper breath support begin to develop right from the start.
 
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Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
Stick the title of the song you want into the you tube search box and add playalong or karaoke.

Amazon have lots of song books, sheet music and playalong books with a CD. At around £10 a book for 8 to 10 songs with a CD, not all of which you'll play, it won't take long to pay the same as a music programme like Band in a box. With band in a box you can dial in the chords, pick a style and create an mp3 or wav. It does a lot more than that but if that's all you use it for it's still worth the price.

Saxophone too plays chords and unlike the guitar you have to know the notes in the chord not just a hand shape.

I played recorder at school and started playing tunes/songs by ear on clarinet and saxophone. I have no idea if it was detrimental to my progress but it kept me interested long enough to pick up (some of) the rest.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Lesson 1:

Any time you ask for advice here, you'll get it, but it may not be consistent. Learn to take it all on board, then make your own decisions.


On the reeds, this very much depends on the mouthpiece. The seller should start you off on an easy to play, neutral piece. There are quite a few around, don't get obsessed with it. Hite premier, Selmer S80 C*, Yamaha 4C, Fobes Debut will all work well, but at different prices. I don't know the sax, but if it comes with a mouthpiece, it may be good or may be rubbish. Match reed to mouthpiece. Starting soft is good. Be guided by the shop selling you the sax and mouthpiece (assuming they know what they're talking about), but treat this as a starting point and be prepared to go up or down half a strength if necessary. What's important is comfort, not tone. Be aware that strengths vary, between different reed types in a manufacturer, and between makers. A Vandoren blue/traditional is about half a strength harder than the same number in a Rico Royal.

Lesson 2:

Beware of teachers who are fixed on a specific sax/mouthpiece/reed/ligature. They should be able to back up with good reason anything they say.
 

geoplay

New Member
Messages
2
Thank you all for your responses. I have rented an alto & have been practicing a bit. I have already discovered, as some of you alluded to, creating good sound on sax is a challenge which in a way counterbalance my idea that sax is a single note instrument & thus easier to play than guitar. During last few years, I taught myself basic guitar and chromatic harmonica. It is my belief that part of learning any musical instrument is mechanical and if you are willing to go through the process you can take your playing maybe to low intermediate level, but that is about it. Beyond that you need to really know what you are doing & maybe have the innate musical talent. It would be great if skilled players share their experience on the way they moved from being a beginner to an intermediate & a skill player. Hearing the process and the issues involved would be valuable piece of information for beginners. For example, on many guitar sites you read that you need to really play/know the scales, but rarely you read how or what is the details.

On Allora Vienna pro sax, it is interesting that nobody knows anything about this sax. A number of sax from Allora are offered on Guitar center and Amazon sites. I read the company is in Germany. It would be good if Cafesaxophone could provide a brief review/account of some of low end instruments. I do not see many reviews of low end sax.
 

Jay

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Northumberland
There are lots of good reviews on that site kernewegor posted.
 

BigMartin

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Manchester, UK
Don't worry about talent. I think motiviation is far more important. Learn to love your practice sessions.
 

thomsax

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Sweden
I think some Allora saxes were made by VEB Markneukirchen, Klingenthal, Germany. But I don't think there are no more saxophone manufactoring in Marknuekirchen!?!?!?! So I guess if the brand is still active is made in Asia.

There are lots of good books/CD for saxplayers. Our own Pete Thomas have some good books and also John Laughter.

Try to get some lessions from a person that can help you with how to blow the sax correct.

If you want to play the sax like a guitar player then " think guitar ". I listen a lot to Rock & Roll music or guitar based music, so I learn a lot of music by ear. I didn't knew I often played in the keys of F# (6 sharps) or C# (7 sharps)!
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
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4,432
Locality
Sweden
You can find lots of backing tracks on Spotify in differnt styles. You can't download from Spotify anymore.
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
480
Locality
Frankston Victoria Australia
on reeds!!!!
If you have to blow hard to get a sound then get out of breath quickly............ then I suggest your reeds too hard.
Its always best to start soft .......1.5 and move up stiffer if you find the reed shuts down too easily against the mouthpiece (blocking the sound). also theres ship loads of stuff on youtube for help just type in the question and up come the videos to show you how.
Not to forget the great company on here too ........so much knowledge on here .
 

Big Ron

New Member
Messages
4
Locality
Wisconsin USA
I feel slightly uncomfortable about saying this in a sax forum, but...

If that's the case, I think you should think seriously about trying a different instrument (some variety of keyboard, maybe?). If you take up the saxophone, you should expect to be developing/refining/maintaning your sound production technique for the whole of your playing career. There is much, much more to making a good sax sound than buying a good instrument and the "right" reeds (which those are depends on mouthpiece, instrument, personal preference, type of sound you want to make, etc). It can be fascinating to learn, but you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time just improving how you play single notes.

I didn't mean any disrespect to keyboard players above, btw. They have to work on their sound, too, but I don't think it's as central to the whole process as it is with wind instruments.
I hear you about taking up a keyboard instrument. The biggest problem with playing and learning to improvise on a non-keyboard instrument, like saxophone, is learning chords, chord structures and chord progressions. At least a piano player can see the chords in front of him/her by seeing the fingers, an advantage I do not have playing gigs by ear one note at a time. Fortunately, I have a good ear and after years of playing gigs and various types music, I can hear most chord changes coming and notes which fit. I cannot imagine how I would learn to improvise without my ears and lots of gigs (and probably wrong notes). On the other hand, one can rely on reading music and develop skill as a musician. Improvisation is a completely different skill. I saw a video done by the great jazz pianist Bill Evans in which he discussed this. He went to college on a music scholarship (flute) and graduated with a music education and piano degree. According to Bill Evans, after all that education and training, he "could not play My Country Tis Of Thee" with a sheet of music in front of him. Obviously he overcame that limitation gaining legendary status as a jazz pianist. He certainly would have faced a more difficult challenge if he had been a horn player. JMHO
 

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