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Yet another altissimo question

ptg

Member
Messages
221
As some of you may remember, I am having a devil of a time when trying to play altissimo.

After finally popping my first high G, I am having problems duplicating the feat.

The odd thing is that in many instances I cannot play it the entire time I practice (at least an hour a day) but when I go to end my session I will try it one more time and quite often it comes out.

Other than time traveling so I can start my practice at the end and work backwards, any other thoughts or suggestions would be very appreciated.

Thanks much!!!!!
 

spike

Old Indian
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2,231
High G can be difficult. I've been playing for over 50 years and sometimes I don't always hit it square on the head.
The best advice I can give is to practice it either every day, or every practice session. (Don't overdo it)
I do arpeggios or scales where the G is the top note and just hold it.
It's muscle memory and sometimes it takes a while to sink in to the depths of yer cranium.
The higher you go the easier the G will get, and overtone exercises on the bottom of the horn will also help you to be stable in the high harmonics.
Take it slow. Three P's: Patience, Perseverance, Pratice.
You'll get more tips for sure, that's the just way I do it.
 
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altissimo

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3,356
It's not just about fingerings, it's about embouchure - how much lip pressure you use, the shape and position of your tongue, shape of your mouth, how much air pressure you use...
Try to shape your mouth like you're trying to sing the note.
Practice overtones off the low G.
Try these mouthpiece exercises - Saxophone Frequently Asked Questions
and read this as well, it may be helpful - Saxophone Frequently Asked Questions
more advice can be found on the internet, some of which may help and some won't. I didn't start to understand Sigurd Rascher's Top Tones For The Saxophone until after I learnt how to play in the altissimo register.
In essence, you're deliberately trying to make the reed squeak in a very controlled way, so it's contrary to a lot of what you've been doing so far. Some people suggest altissimo is easier on a harder reed, but I didn't find that to be the case and a 2 1/2 or 3 should be fine.
Some mouthpieces may be hard to play in the altissimo register - but Sigurd Rascher must've been playing in the altissmo using the kind of low baffled vintage pieces that are beyond my capabilities
here's more food for thought -
Playing in the Altissimo Register - JodyJazz

12 Tips for Hitting that Altissimo G Like a Pro » Best. Saxophone. Website. Ever.

Approaching the Altissimo with Lenny Pickett

View: https://youtu.be/fwkP4Sa7kSI
 
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ptg

Member
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221
It's not just about fingerings, it's about embouchure - how much lip pressure you use, the shape and position of your tongue, shape of your mouth, how much air pressure you use...
Try to shape your mouth like you're trying to sing the note.
Practice overtones off the low G.
Try these mouthpiece exercises - Saxophone Frequently Asked Questions
and read this as well, it may be helpful - Saxophone Frequently Asked Questions
more advice can be found on the internet, some of which may help and some won't. I didn't start to understand Sigurd Rascher's Top Tones For The Saxophone until after I learnt how to play in the altissimo register.
In essence, you're deliberately trying to make the reed squeak in a very controlled way, so it's contrary to a lot of what you've been doing so far. Some people suggest altissimo is easier on a harder reed, but I didn't find that to be the case and a 2 1/2 or 3 should be fine.
Some mouthpieces may be hard to play in the altissimo register - but Sigurd Rascher must've been playing in the altissmo using the kind of low baffled vintage pieces that are beyond my capabilities
here's more food for thought -
Playing in the Altissimo Register - JodyJazz

12 Tips for Hitting that Altissimo G Like a Pro » Best. Saxophone. Website. Ever.

Approaching the Altissimo with Lenny Pickett

View: https://youtu.be/fwkP4Sa7kSI
Thanks for the great reply!

Some of your suggestions are known to me and some are not, so I will look into this tonight.

But I still don't know why it works better at the end of the practice session and not at the beginning...:confused2:
 

Saxmole

Member
Messages
83
I found a youtube item by Rob Buckland which he posted in support of his book. I found his approach to altissimo very helpful as he stresses the importance of tongue position when forming notes.
He explains the importance of the volume of air needed. I was surprised at the small amount of air required (I had been blowing far too hard). If memory serves me he describes the tongue position as being similar to that which you use when you whistle a high note. His explanation is far better than I can manage so if you put 'Rob Buckland Harmonics' into youtube you may find his advice helpful.........I certainly did!
 
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ptg

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I found a youtube item by Rob Buckland which he posted in support of his book. I found his approach to altissimo very helpful as he stresses the importance of tongue position when forming notes. He also explains the importance of the volume of air needed. I was surprised at the small amount of air required (I had been blowing far too hard). If memory serves me he describes the tongue position as being similar to that which you use when you whistle a high note. His explanation is far better than I can manage so if you put 'Rob Buckland Altissimo' into youtube you may find his advice helpful.........I certainly did!
Thanks! I may have seen that video but will have to look again. When I try to blow softly it's too soft and vice versa...
 

Saxmole

Member
Messages
83
Thanks! I may have seen that video but will have to look again. When I try to blow softly it's too soft and vice versa...
I think I found the secret had a lot to do with air speed rather than the actual volume of the air entering the mouthpiece. Mr Buckland suggests that the note is formed in the front of the mouth in the space between the tongue and the lips. Very small adjustments to the shape of that space affects the success of the note produced. He demonstrates how the altissimo notes are formed here and how, with enough practice, the fingerings you choose become largely irrelevant.
 
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altissimo

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3,356
I still don't know why it works better at the end of the practice session and not at the beginning.
maybe a combination of factors - your reed is nicely blown in and your lip and embouchure muscles are nicely toned after a bit of practice.

Don't expect altissimo G to be easy, it won't be. Practice the overtones off the lowest notes on your instrument until you can get some steady results in the altissimo - you'll probably find that one of the notes above G will be the first to happen. Once you've found the knack you can gradually work on the rest of them.

Regarding tongue shape, I find that forming my mouth into an 'Eeee' shape, cupping the tip of my tongue under the reed to form a slight air pocket and adjusting the shape and position of that 'pocket' allows for a great deal of control over the pitch of the altissimo register - it's difficult to describe, but my tongue's a kind of horizontal S shape, raised at the back and cupped under the reed at the front. My lower lip is roughly at the point where the facing curve starts, so a bit more mouthpiece in my mouth than usual and a bit more lip pressure. What works for me may not work for anyone else, I figured it out by trial and error in a way that would no doubt horrify Mr Rascher and his descendants, but quite frankly I don't give a......
 
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jbtsax

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@altissimo great resources. When I have time I will study those. I don't know if they mention the "trick" espoused by Eugene Rousseau to approach the "troublesome" G3. That is to adjust the front F to open the F palm key just about 2mm or the thickness of a paper match. This helps the G to speak initially when starting out. As you develop a better feel for the note, set the front F back to its normal adjustment.
 
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ptg

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221
@altissimo great resources. When I have time I will study those. I don't know if they mention the "trick" espoused by Eugene Rousseau to approach the "troublesome" G3. That is to adjust the front F to open the F palm key just about 2mm or the thickness of a paper match. This helps the G to speak initially when starting out. As you develop a better feel for the note, set the front F back to its normal adjustment.
Interesting post jbtsax...I noticed that sometimes when I partially open keys it will pop out and figured it was just a fluke.
 

GCinCT

Seeker of truth and beauty
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I had the exact same problem when I hit the G for the first time. Couldn't duplicate it until the end of my practice sessions. Maybe is has to do with being completed warmed up. I kept at it though and can now hit it at will. In fact, I can go up to the C.

Most of the advice calls for "fast air". I noticed this when I first started hitting the altissimo notes. I could get them much easier on my Beechler S8 mouthpiece. It has a small chamber, which I believe speeds up the air. I worked on faster air and can now get them on my other mouthpieces.
 
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altissimo

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3,356
Interesting post jbtsax...I noticed that sometimes when I partially open keys it will pop out and figured it was just a fluke.
how far you open some keys can have an effect -sometimes just opening the right key in the right place just a crack is enough to make the air column double or triple in pitch..
some fingerings just won't work for you, try some of the others suggested here - Lower Altissimo - Alternate Fingering Chart for Saxophone - The Woodwind Fingering Guide

this from one of the oldest sax resources on the internet may help explain what's going on - or not....

From Shooshie:
"Now... let's talk about creating your own fingerings. Look closely at the fingerings you use and figure out what they are doing. Essentially they are creating a new octave overblown at a harmonic rather than the octave. They enable you to use that overblown harmonic with your key system for a span of a few steps at a time before having to overblow at the next harmonic and start the key fingerings over. One key generally acts as a vent (an octave key) to force the harmonic to sound, while the other keys give you some fingerings that connect chromatically. The best altissimo notes are those overblown at the lower harmonics. They will be firm and have tone, not just squeaky sounds. The higher harmonics are absent in lower overtones, and therefore have less body to distinguish them from the same note on a flute or clarinet (or reed squeak). So, with this knowledge in mind, you can make up your own altissimo fingerings so that you can connect chromatic fingerings and have true usage of your scales and arpeggios up there without jumping from one key system (at one harmonic) to another key system (at the another harmonic). Am I making sense to you? I never tried to put that into words before, but have used it for decades in creating my own fingerings. Most people have trouble with altissimo not because it's hard to produce, but because the fingerings are so awkward. And they ARE awkward when you are jumping from one harmonic to another with each note. Keep them connected under the same harmonic and you will have virtuosic control."​
 
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ptg

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221
I had the exact same problem when I hit the G for the first time. Couldn't duplicate it until the end of my practice sessions. Maybe is has to do with being completed warmed up. I kept at it though and can now hit it at will. In fact, I can go up to the C.

Most of the advice calls for "fast air". I noticed this when I first started hitting the altissimo notes. I could get them much easier on my Beechler S8 mouthpiece. It has a small chamber, which I believe speeds up the air. I worked on faster air and can now get them on my other mouthpieces.
So funny that you had the same issue! I have a Meyer 6 medium. Is that considered a small or large chamber?
 

GCinCT

Seeker of truth and beauty
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1,316
So funny that you had the same issue! I have a Meyer 6 medium. Is that considered a small or large chamber?
I also have a Meyer 6M. It's a medium chamber and of the 3 alto mouthpieces I play, it's the hardest one to get altissimo notes on.
 
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ptg

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221
I also have a Meyer 6M. It's a medium chamber and of the 3 alto mouthpieces I play, it's the hardest one to get altissimo notes on.
Wow! I see you have a Beechler (never heard of it as I am still a relative newbie). What's your other one?
 

GCinCT

Seeker of truth and beauty
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Wow! I see you have a Beechler (never heard of it as I am still a relative newbie). What's your other one?
The other one is a Beechler but an M6, medium chamber, smaller tip opening. Those are the ones I play. I also have a Selmer S80, a Yamaha 4C that came with my YAS-475 and a no name plastic one that cane with my old student alto. But I never play those.
 
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ptg

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221
The other one is a Beechler but an M6, medium chamber, smaller tip opening. Those are the ones I play. I also have a Selmer S80, a Yamaha 4C that came with my YAS-475 and a no name plastic one that cane with my old student alto. But I never play those.
Are the Beechler's metal or rubber?
 
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