Saxophone Forum


by Jman23
(7 posts)
10 years ago

Is it worth learning altissimo notes

Just wondering if i should take the time to learn the altissimo register. Is it really useful?

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  1. by jasonparvey
    (7 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

    If you listen to any modern players (mid 70's and newer), jazz or classical, they all use altissimo. When auditioning for shools, it is a great asset to play altissimo. Many classical pieces use altissimo: The Creston Sonata, the Muczynski, just to name a few. In jazz, it will let you express your ideas further, which is always useful. For instance, you are playing a lick in the key of F, and you want to arpegiate it a little, up to the 9th, great place to use altissimo. It is essential to know and use altissimo fluently these days. -Jason Parvey

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    1. by Jman23
      (7 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

      Thanks alot for the advice. I was trying to play the altissimo range and i can hit high g very eaisly but when it comes to the a it does not come out at all. I was wondering what fingering you used for the high a

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      1. by Martin22
        (1 post)

        10 years ago

        Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

        Wow, that's kinda backwards...most people have a harder time learning the alt. G. Anyway, try to use a 2,3 fingering for the alt. A. You can try the 2,3 alone or add a 4,6 or a 5,6. My horn likes the 2,3,4,6 the most but it's an oldie.

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        1. by cyber75sax
          (33 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

          There are several fingering charts available online that will show correct fingerings for soprano-baritone altissimo notes. If you're going to play the saxophone seriously, you should take the time to learn the altissimo register. Many modern saxophone solos incorporate altissimo notes, and it adds diversity to jazz improv solos as well.

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      2. by JustinMcCary
        (3 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

        I've got a question. I learned how to play altissimo, pretty high too, usually up to the G above the first altissimo G. The thing is, i only use about two fingerings for everything else in between. The thing is, i can usually hit what pitch i want, but i only use two fingerings for all the pitches in between. Does anyone know why or how this is possible?

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      3. by JustinMcCary
        (3 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

        I've got a question. I learned how to play altissimo, pretty high too, usually up to the G above the first altissimo G. I only use about two fingerings for everything else in between. The thing is, i can usually hit what pitch i want, but i only use two fingerings for all the pitches in between. Does anyone know why or how this is possible?

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      4. by JustinMcCary
        (3 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

        I've got a question. I learned how to play altissimo, pretty high too, usually up to the G above the first altissimo G. I only use about two fingerings for everything else in between. The thing is, i can usually hit what pitch i want, but i only use two fingerings for all the pitches in between. Does anyone know why or how this is possible?

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        1. by SaxMan
          (559 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

          Sigurd rascher played 4 octaves on a keyless sax, you are just getting multiphonics of each harmonic.

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          1. by cyber75sax
            (33 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            If you can play you altissimo register with 2 keys, one key, or no key, by all means continue what you are doing. Altissimo fingerings are only for facilitating the proper pitch. Try different combinations with a tuner as well; different fingerings will achieve different pitches.

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          2. by frostshardz
            (23 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            just got a question... what is the altissimo register or range?

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          3. by cyber75sax
            (33 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            Altissimo is going to be any note played above the conventional design of the horn, i.e.: F# on modern horns. The limit is pretty much the harmonic range of the horn. As far as how high it goes, that's up to the individual player. I've seen boasts on this site about quadruple G's (three octaves above low G). Whether that's possible or not depends on you.

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          4. by golferguy675
            (600 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            Alot of times you can also just overblow normal fingerings. Like whend you overblow the d key you get altissimo b, and d# gets c, and so on. I found if you overblow the high f# key, you can get up to altissimo d#. The highest i can get so far is altissimo F. I'm pretty sure that the sax is the same as the trumpet in regards to how you can play. The possibilities are inifinite.

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          5. by frostshardz
            (23 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            does that mean any note g or higher is considered altissimo? also, wont it chip the reed easily?

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          6. by golferguy675
            (600 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            Yes, any note beyond the normal range (usually G) is altissimo. It can wear your reed down quicker, but how would it chip? It's not like you're biting it.

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          7. by SaxMan
            (559 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            I have shreaded many ricos doing altissimo - one split fron tip to heel.

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          8. by cyber75sax
            (33 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            Forgive me for sounding like a reed snob, but why are you using Rico's?

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          9. by golferguy675
            (600 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            That's never happened to me on either mouthpiece or reed. I use a 3 reed for jazz and a 4 for classical. With the 4 reeds altissimo comes out effortless, it's just sometimes hard to keep under control. I use different signatures for jazz, but i use the vandorens with the 4 reeds. Maybe it's just the Ricos. I find those pretty hard to play.

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          10. by Jbreitm
            (5 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            I have said it before and I will probably say it again for get altissimo down really well you need to get rascher's top tones book. I was a clarinet player first and have only picked up sax in the past few years but I find that the altissimo in the lower range the G right above the keyed range is one of the hardest notes to get out and the higher they go the easier it is to find the notes. I do believe that altissimo is the way to take your playing to the next level though.

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          11. by sax_maniac
            (984 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            I think altissimo is a good thing to learn once you've got a decent handle on playing the sax in general. If you can't play the natural range of the horn with good tone and intonation, there's not much point in fussing with the underworld - ahem, I mean OVERworld - of altissimo. I think it can help develop subtleties in controlling your embouchre and tone in ways that you might not have discovered previously. To me, the more useful part of learning altissimo is jumping within the normal range of the horn without having to move a bunch of keys. Hopping from low Bb to middle D with the same fingering is more practical than, say, searching for triple G. There are times when the music actually calls for that A above high D, but I think it's cooler being able to do a bugle call, personally. The whole point of hearing the note and making it pop out is a good exercise. Altissimo kind of forces you to do it, and I think it can help that skill develop within the normal range of the horn - instead of simply relying on the right fingering. There's some practical use for altissimo, but I wouldn't let it keep you up at night unless you're really bored and don't like your neighbors.

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          12. by sax_maniac
            (984 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            "The whole point of hearing the note (before you play it) and making it pop out is a good exercise." This Easter Bunny needs to go to bed.

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          13. by frostshardz
            (23 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            has anyone heard a sop sax's altissimo notes? can i shatter glass?

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          14. by sax_maniac
            (984 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            High F# on a soprano sax is practically a controlled squeak to begin with. I've heard some, but not a lot. You can shatter glass by sympathizing with it's resonant frequency. You'll have better luck shattering lead crystal. Ever rub the rim of an empty wine glass to get the tone? Well, play that tone REALLY LOUD and you might pull it off. It won't work as easily with fluid in it, though it's possible. Be careful - you might break a blood vessel in your forehead before you break the glass...

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          15. by SaxMan
            (559 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            Im not, I ran out of reeds at school once - (before my days of synthetic.) My pep band piece is REAL hard on reeds, some reeds blow right away, others last maybe 20 minutes at the absolute most, so I use rico royal as a cheap, disposable reed for that piece. The shreading time was with my gregory - when I was still dumb and trying to copy other peoples sound, I bought me a box of brown box ricos to use on the 4a-18m and any altissimo note at all shreaded it - even F# - probably a REALLY bad cane year - I have some 65 + year old vibrators that do altissimo better than any of my other reeds.

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          16. by Jbreitm
            (5 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            I am pretty sure that hitting altissimo notes on soprano wont break glass. I have hit up to quintuple C on clarinet (the second altissimo C above the normal range on both soprano and clarinet) and I never had anything pop (except for blood vessels in my head). IT sounds like fun to try though, becareful not to stand too close to the glass in the room.

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          17. by sax_maniac
            (984 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            Good point. You're not going to break glass based on a high frequency alone. It has to do with resonance, which is why the best shot someone's got is to find the resonant frequency and play that frequency loudly. You probably have to be within a quarter tone to pull it off.

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          18. by Bibimbop
            (53 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            It shouldn't do that. First of all...why are you using Rico's? POS ...secondly, your embouchure shouldn't change, just your voicing...if you're changing your embouchure and gettinng your reeds split you are doing something seriously wrong

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          19. by SaxMan
            (559 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            Yeah? well it does. First of all, I already explained why i was usiing ricos. Second of all, you do use your embouchure to a certain extent for altissimo. I am not getting my reeds split on a regular basis, just the once on a single F, third of all, doing something "wrong" isnt going to split a reed, it is the reed splitting itself - the cane year was probably really rainy and there was a lot of pulp - at that high of a frequency, it tore like paper.

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          20. by Spike
            (248 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            Okay, since i haven't responded yet, here's everything i would have said: To JamieE: Make sure you have good facility on the rest of the range AKA all the way down to Bb. Good controll of your low range can be just as much of a challenge as altissimo, so be sure to work on it. but once you're really comfortable, altissimo can be really fun and quite usefull(if nothing else, just to impress people) To Cyber75Sax/JustinMcCary: I agree, play whatever fingerings work for you. No audience cares how you play, just what you play. To golferGuy: yeah, that's your overtone range coming out. basicaly what's hapening is that the wavelength of your tone is getting shorter, so it's a lot like just having a way shorter horn. To sax_maniac: well damn, don't you just make this post superfluous? you're awesome To frostshardz: anybody can shatter glass. not only did ella fitzgerrald do it, a memorex tape of her did to. not only that, but on the resonation or "natural frequency" issue, that's why troops break rank when crossing a bridge. they actually could match the natural frequency of it while marching and send it tumbling down. to bibimbop: your embouchure should change for every note. we're not talking about clarinets here and lastly to keith: that's not multiphonics, that's overtones. what you're doing is hitting multiple harmonic intervals simultaniously. well, you always do, that's the nature of sound waves, but in this case you're emphasizing multiple levels strongly and at once. good job tearing reeds, i almost never do that, but i usually have anice stock on hand, so it doesn't come to reeds like that often.

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          21. by Bibimbop
            (53 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            If you change your embouchure on every note will never achieve a well centered and even classical tone. The normal range of the horn should be able to be played with ease with no embouchure change. When going into the altissimo register it's the muscles that form your embouchure that change, it's your voicing. The position of your thoat can change the pitch dramatically, and you can keep a well centered tone with changing your voicing, not your embouchure. Ask any reputable reputable professor of saxophone (this includes people like Don Sinta, Joe Lulloff, Fred Hemke, etc...no this does not include those of you who where first chair in your concert band) Changing your embouchure for every note will lead to big problems in your playing.

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          22. by phathorn
            (165 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            The greatest importance in learning the overtone series isn't so much mastering the altissimo register. The truly wonderful thing about learning overtones is what it does to your sound. Mastering control of the overtone series will expand your sound greatly.

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          23. by Spike
            (248 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            right, i should elaborate on what i meant. you change your embechure for playing jazz, since each note should sound different, one of the huge differences between jazz and legit. also, it's really adventagous to have your throat all the way open most of the time for jazz, so intonation problems have to be fixed in the mouth. as for constant embechure, yeah, i can do that, and fix intonation in my throat, but i don't delve into legit often, so i develop my jazz tone more.(that, kids, is known as a "run-on" sentence")

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        2. by kelsey
          (784 posts)

          5 years ago

          Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

          Yes and No?.........Kelsey
          Barry Kelsey

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          1. by chalazon
            (547 posts)

            5 years ago

            Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

            go, kelsey, go...!!

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            1. by cuber
              (653 posts)

              5 years ago

              Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

              for those who are convinced its nessicary in jazz, take a listen to: charlie parker gerrry mulligan cannonball art pepper paul desmond coleman hawkins harey carney lester young just think about it. these people (and im missing a few) rarely if ever went into the altissimo range. if it was good enough for them, its good enough for me

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              1. by chalazon
                (547 posts)

                5 years ago

                Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

                actually, I do find this is becoming a rather interesting discussion..we talk about it from time to time. Lenny Pickett is,of course, one of the masters of the screamin, altissimo..and sounds great..if the technique enhances your playing and is musical..go for it..if it's a gimmick, well..might want to reconsider...I try to avoid it in my playing..I tend to sound like a cat being pulled through a key hole..but, whatever works.

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              2. by cuber
                (653 posts)

                5 years ago

                Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

                if you want to talk about awsome altissimo solos, listen to Ronnie Cuber's Cheetah from the Cubism album. its definatly one of those "holy crap" moments the first time you listen to it. but to go along with what i previously said, i dont think you need it. the way alot of people use it today is "how high can i go?" and dont actually do anything with it, just belt out annoyingly high notes.

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              3. by chalazon
                (547 posts)

                5 years ago

                Re: Is it worth learning altissimo notes

                me too.

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