Saxophone Forum


by apoc7k
(20 posts)
10 years ago

Altissimo in depth

Okay... I'm a younger jazz player that is getting VERY serious into jazz. And as with all saxophone players, there comes that time in our lives where we start to question things and want to explore the world of jazz more seriously. Actually what I'm really asking is an in depth explanation of the "How-to's" of altissimo playing, as well as a bunch of fingerings... I guess I have no-one in the area that will be alot of help. And the professors at the Universitys 300 (I think) miles due east are quite busy at this time. So anyways I guess I will thank anyone that would be kind enough to help me... so thanks guys...

Reply To Post [Report Abuse]

Report Abuse

Replies

  1. by tenor562
    (297 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Altissimo in depth

    Purchase Larry Teal's Art of Saxophone playing if you haven't already. It has an article on Altissimo and several fingerings. Practicing overtones really helps too. Even I can hit some altissimo g's and a's once in a while. But Altissimo is really annoying when used too much, and in my opinion isn't required.

    Reply To Post


    1. by golferguy675
      (600 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Altissimo in depth

      Really, you should study altissimo from a classical standpoint before you get into using it in jazz, so you have a good foundation for it. I know it may seem mundane at first, but you'll appreciate it later. That's why I like tenor's book suggestion. Also, altissimo G is actually the hardest altissimo note to play, so be aware. You could much more easily hit an altissimo B. You also need to practice overtones equally as much as altissimo, because that's all most of altissimo is. Once you've mastered it, you should be able to play any altissimo note regardless of where your fingers are; because in this art fingerings are just guidelines and helpers. If you get tired of studying this classicaly to start with, you may find refuge in listening to Lenny Pickett. In my opinion, he's the hippest altissimo guy out there. He uses it at just the right moments and hits it perfect, and he played it classicaly at first. You can find him in SNL's band, the Tower of Power horn section, or his CD set Lenny Pickett and the Borneo Horns, which is amazing.

      Reply To Post


      1. by martysax
        (148 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Altissimo in depth

        Years ago, in 8th grade or so, a Berklee student teacher gave me a fingering chart taken from Sigurd Rascher's "Top Tones for Saxophone." Luckily I bought the whole book soon after. If you study all the exercises, you learn to hear the note before you pop it. Eventually you can hit any note, regardless of fingering. Practice alone, where nobody can hear you. It's nasty sounding until you make it sing with proper tone and color. Also, use a tuner!

        Reply To Post


        1. by jazzax
          (30 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Altissimo in depth

          As everyone above said, playing the overtone series based on low Bb, B, C and C# is essential not only for learning altissimo, but also for developing your tone on the sax. Don't bite! Use breath support (use your diaphragm), tongue position and keep your embouchure in an O shape (try to do the overtones with as little change to your embouchure as possible). It's natural to squeeze the embouchure as you get higher in tone, but this is a bad habit. Of course getting a good private teach helps. The Teal book is good in lots of ways, but very few can develop an embouchure suggested in that book without biting. Most jazz players use their chin muscles to support their lower lip to keep from biting (this is said to be BAD in the Teal book). While this may be recommended against by classical teachers, learning how to do this totally changed my sound for the better and I'll never go back. This was something I had to learn after years of trying the other way...years after going to schools like North Texas State University. (Some people out there may hit me over the head for suggesting this, but what can I say, it really changed everything for me.) Back to the point, there are a lot of great jazz players that never played much altissimo at all. It's much more important to develop tone and facility in the natural range of the instrument. Altissimo fingerings are different for alto and tenor. And, in spite of what many have found, I learned most of the fingerings I use from books and they have worked great. Variations come later. Soprano altissimo required more personal fingerings for me. Admittedly, I personally didn't find the fingerings in Top Tones for Saxophone particularly helpful, but the rudimentary exercises in that book are very important. I seem to recall using a book about high harmonics by Ted Nash that I think was good for tenor fingerings. I learned some good alto fingerings from some book called Jazz Styles and Analysis...a "comprehensive" book of transcribed alto solos from about a hundred different alto players. Sorry for the long post...my day job is sort of slow right now....hope this helps!

          Reply To Post


        2. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Altissimo in depth

          Just wanted to chime in that Teal's book is great for overall musicianship, but Rascher's is essential for altissimo.

          Reply To Post


      2. by jose luis barrios avila
        (1 post)

        7 years ago

        Re: Altissimo in depth

        Reply To Post


        1. by Dark Eyes
          (138 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: Altissimo in depth

          One of the best sites for altissimo fingerings I have ever seen is one I found a little while ago. It goes higher than I can play on tenor and it offers an enormous amount of different fingerings for the notes as well as how they respond with respect to which instrument you are playing. I'll post the link below. and I think it will help you out a lot. www.wfg.woodwind.org/sax/index.html Cheers, Dark Eyes (unloved thesis)

          Reply To Post


          1. by selmer 4evr
            (309 posts)

            7 years ago

            Re: Altissimo in depth

            ok firts finger low Bb and sound a high F then low B and sound F# and then low C and sound high G get used to this this is the begining of altissimo when you can do this compfortably do it all over again this time finger low Bb and sound middle Bb and then the F and then the high Bb always think octave,,fith ,,,second octave do this for all the notes mentioned above you are on your way !!

            Reply To Post