Saxophone Forum


by straightj23
(103 posts)
8 years ago

Altissimo!!!

Hey. I'm a senior in high school. And I want to take my saxophone playing to the next level. I really want to figure out how to play altissimo. I have a High F# key on my saxophone, but I've been told that it doesn't mean anything. I play with #3 vandoren reeds (I play blue box for classical, ZZ for jazz.) Would I need to try harder reeds? How do you guys do it? Alternate fingerings? I would really appreciate your input. Thanks a lot.

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  1. by newreedsyndrome
    (343 posts)

    8 years ago

    Re: Altissimo!!!

    I don't think you need harder reeds, but do you practice your overtones (playing a higher note than you are fingering)? That is the key to altissimo, because all altissimo fingerings are harmonic fingerings, or fingerings that sound a lower note if not executed correctly (unless you meant to play a lower note). There is a great fingering chart at www.wfg.woodwind.org/sax/sax_alt_6.html

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  2. by newreedsyndrome
    (343 posts)

    8 years ago

    Re: Altissimo!!!

    By the way, what do you mean "you been told it doesn't mean anything"; in regard to the high F# key on your sax? It doesn't not mean anything. You can use it to play a high F#!

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    1. by Sax Mom
      (964 posts)

      8 years ago

      Re: Altissimo!!!

      I'm guessing the "it doesn't mean anything," means that using the key to play high F# doesn't mean you're playing altissimo... I would love to have the high F# key on my tenor and my alto, but they weren't making them that way that long ago. I had to play altissimo to get F# and higher. Fortunately, it wasn't required all that often for me, because I didn't develop it well enough.

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  3. by barisax999
    (400 posts)

    8 years ago

    Re: Altissimo!!!

    im in the process of knocking out altissimo right now. defenitely work the overtones, thats crucial. also work your scales up through the natural range of the instrument, it will make you more fluent in that range. also, i dont have an F# key and i know that helped me get used to front fingerings. so start working with using front F and F#. and in the end, you just have to bang away at it changing embochure. on my horn, the high F# sits really low in the pitch compared to F, so try applying pressure and pulling your lip back slightly. mess around with and keep at it. took me 4 months of daily work to get the G!!! keep at it

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    1. by sslavoix
      (32 posts)

      7 years ago

      Re: Altissimo!!!

      i feel crazy now because i can hit the high a and i did not have to practice so what does that mean no sarcasm to this im serious and not trying to brag whatsoever

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      1. by knorter
        (205 posts)

        7 years ago

        Re: Altissimo!!!

        Good job. The High A is the note that seems to be the easiest for most people who are starting to work on altissimo. That's the note that has the least resistance and pops out on most horns with ease. Try working on some of the other notes. Kristy

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    2. by Linky
      (26 posts)

      8 years ago

      Re: Altissimo!!!

      Altissimo G is one of the hardest notes, with the C# as well. I never tried playing Altissimo notes until about a month ago, I got bored and thought I'd muck around and give them a go. I'd played G many times before but there was a piece that had an optional A so I thought I'd give them a go. As people have said, playing harmonics solidly lower down on the saxophone is key. But many people have said about changing your embouchure. That is just plain awkward, slow and unnecessary. You control the pitch of the note by how high your tongue is raised in your mouth, how high or low the back of your throat is (high is an eee sound low is an ahhh). You start of with the alternate fingering and learn where your throat physically needs to go to start hitting the altissimo notes, then you manipulate it with the tongue to bring it into pitch. Just work on one note each day but don't do it to a tuner, it never pays off because as soon as you play without looking at the tuner you don't know where the pitch is as you disengage your ears when you look at a tuner.

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      1. by JaZzer
        (25 posts)

        8 years ago

        Re: Altissimo!!!

        Like everyone else, I'd say overtones. Not only that, but long tones on overtones. The idea is to be able to sustain and have a good sound way up in that fourth register so that it doesn't sound like a controlled squeek. Also try hearing the overtone series on a note, listening to the partials. Once you've started working on overtones your tone will improve (overtones add to control) and you can start playing an overtone (let's say the F on an overtone of low Bb) and then play the regular fingering for F and try to match the sound. Once you've got that down, you can look at the late M. Brecker's Delta City Blues and give it a go. Its got quite a few overtones (nearly the entire tune). Also, different altissimo fingerings work for different horns. On my s/n 60,xxx mark VI, I use 1 3 1 side Bb for altissimo G, however on a friends s/n 71xxx mark vi (and a Jupiter Artist series) I have to use: front f 3 1, or else it won't speak. If you've worked on overtones (btw, a key to it is hearing the partial you're trying to achieve, you think of it and your body will automatically adjust to accomodate the speaking of the partial) and still can't get altissimo G or others try different fingerings. Good luck~ You get good at what you practice.

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        1. by yotengotenor
          (29 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Altissimo!!!

          I'll follow everyone else on this and agree that overtones are essential. I'm also a high school senior who's practicing altissimo notes. I've been working on trying to hit them for months, and just today, I finally got the basis for throat and tongue control to get the higher pitches. Granted, I'm just starting. I need much more work in order to get a cleaner sound, but the pitches are definitely there. The A is probably the easiest of all, I'd say. Like someone else mentioned, it's about how high your tongue is in your mouth, and to some degree, constricting your throat to produce a quicker and narrower airstrem. And yes, Michael's Brecker's Delta City Blues is gold for harmonics. Go on Youtube or somewhere and watch a video of him playing it. His level of control of harmonics is beyond belief. RIP Brecker

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        2. by Sax Mom
          (964 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Altissimo!!!

          Congratulations!!!

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        3. by brothe_r
          (1 post)

          7 years ago

          Re: Altissimo!!!

          Hi! I've been trying to play altissimo and I couldn't anyway. I read a lot in all the forums and nothing helps me. But one day, thanks to my neighbours, I decided to buy a silencer for my mouthpiece (firstly for not to bother), but then I discovered that, in 2 week, my sound was incredible better and that I could play altissimo!!! I recommend that you all visit jazzlab.com, it could be the solution to a lot of problems with your sound. Hope to help!! Byyeeee!!!

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        4. by saxplaya81
          (110 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: Altissimo!!!

          Top Tones For Saxophone (four octave range) by Sigurd M. Rascher is the book you ***MUST*** get if you want to develope your altissimo register

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        5. by greysax
          (6 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: Altissimo!!!

          I agree with you, brothe_r. For me the Silencer from www.jazzlab.com was great help too and still is. I practice with Silencer/mouthpiece combination every day for a few minutes (mouthpiece exercises). And have no more problems with altissimo since. High tones just come suddenly and are now very easy to play for me, with no pressure or biting. The same changes in oral cavity which are responsible for pitch control with mouthpiece alone works for altissimo to. I can recommend you David Liebman Book "Developing A Personal Saxophone Sound".

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