Saxophone Forum


by mattdude
(74 posts)
10 years ago

altissimo embouchure

hi, this is my first post here. hopefully i'll have the time to check back here regularly. i'm a 17 year old high school student, first tenor saxophone in the band and jazz band. this is my 7th year playing, and i've made more substantial and important leaps in my playing this year than all other previous 6 years combined. i'm starting scales in the altissimo register, but i've got a bit of a problem. here's how i have my embouchure. my lower lip is curled over my teeth to provide padding, and my upper teeth are exposed. the only way i can seem to hit the most of the altissimo register is to tighten my lower jaw and that leaves a nasty indent in my lower lip after a couple hours of practice that causes it to hurt to play any more altissimo for a day or so. what should i do to fix my embouchure so that i'm tearing up the chart instead of my lip, if you know what i mean. thanks for any help in advanced.

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  1. by mattdude
    (74 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: altissimo embouchure

    oh yeah, by the way. meyer 5 open bore, v16 3.5 reeds.

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    1. by SaxMan88
      (318 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: altissimo embouchure

      Matt, I was in your same situation not long ago. I was playing with a clarinet embouchure for seven years until recently when I learned the 'ooo' embouchure; here's how it works. Form your lips like you're saying 'ooo' then put the mouthpiece on that. It'll feel weird at first and you might have the urge to pull back on your lower lip a bit. Do whatever works just make sure you don't curl your bottom lip on your bottom teeth like a clarinet player does. That new embouchure might make you go somewhat flat, just adjust now. You might also some burning in your muscles in your face, but that's a good thing because you're now working the 'chops' that you'll need later down the road for metal pieces etc. IMO, the 3.5 reeds might be too much, but if you can pop out them altissimo notes easier with it, then go for it. Your Meyer sounds like a good mouthpiece. Remember, it's whatever you're comfortable with. Well have fun with the altissimo exercises! After months of trying to figure them out I can now hit an altissimo G on my alto consistently. And what's cool is; it must be wrong but the G growls on it's own!

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      1. by mattdude
        (74 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: altissimo embouchure

        first off, thanks for the reply. well altissimo g is absolutely no problem for me. i use 1--|sideBb,highF#--- you gotta like put your tongue almost over the mouth peice. in order to play loud. it sounds great too, exactly like all the other notes. doesn't even have that harsh beginning altissimo sound that you get out of a lot of them. about the embouchure, seems like no matter what i try to do, my teeth are still at least partially under my lip. sucks, now i gotta learn to play the saxophone again.. but i'm sure int eh long run, it'll help me out. got any pictures of what it's supposed to look liek? maybe cross sections? thanks for any help.

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        1. by SaxMan88
          (318 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: altissimo embouchure

          Look at a picture of Kenny G or John Coltrane or David Sanborn or hell I'll even send you a pic of me doin it if it'll help. I was using the Front F and Bis key along with side Bb for G on alto and now I just gotta learn how to control it. Fun stuff. I'll get a pic of me one day and I'll tty then.

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        2. by phathorn
          (165 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: altissimo embouchure

          most teachers (including ones like Rascher and Teal) teach that the bottom lip SHOULD cover the teeth. The altissimo register comes from manipulation of the overtone series, not from pressure on the reed (until, perhaps, you get into the range that only Lenny Pickett seems to be able to reach).

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        3. by mattdude
          (74 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: altissimo embouchure

          great.. how do you do that?

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        4. by phathorn
          (165 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: altissimo embouchure

          ok, so it's actually not that complicated. You know how when sometimes you try to play a low Bb and either the Bb above it or even the F above that comes out instead? Those are overtones, and they can go much higher. Manipulating overtones isn't technically that difficult but requires practice getting your throat to do what you want it to do. Try this, practice fingering a low Bb and getting the next octave up to come out on command. Next, try doing the same thing but shoot for making the F come out....After your body understands what you are trying to do, you will be able to finger low Bb, B, C, etc. and do bugle calls like revele and taps without moving your fingers...after that, the altissimo will pop out much easier. Oh yeah, in regards to the "growl" on some altissimo notes, it's two or more overtones competing for the same spot...

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        5. by mattdude
          (74 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: altissimo embouchure

          over tones are no problem. i can go up two octaves from Bb, B, and C. i just can't seem to apply that to altissimo. i'll have to work on it...

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        6. by golferguy675
          (600 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: altissimo embouchure

          Well, if you play overtones on your palm keyes you'll go into altissimo fairly easily. I use 3 and a crunch fingering on the side keys with them to make it more in tune, but side D is alt B, and so on by half steps. Really, rather than applyin pressure with your bottom lip, you should just keep it same and do everything with your throat. You shouldn't have to change your pressure or embouchure at all to do altissimo, keep it how it is. Just open up your throat. I find that about 95% of highschool students play generally the entire time with their throats to closed up, and have no control in those muscles. Also, if you want a better jazz tone, and you have the extra cash, I would try a bigger chamber meyer like a 6 or 7, and then switch to 2 1/2 or 3 reeds. You'll get a much bigger sound.

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        7. by mattdude
          (74 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: altissimo embouchure

          thanks, i'll see what i can do.

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