Saxophone Forum


by Vodrai
(1 post)
2 years ago

Palm Key Range Is Half a Step Flat on Soprano

I have a soprano sax solo in my high school band's marching show (I have to play a chromatic 16th note run from high C# to pk E). I've only been playing soprano for a few months (6 years on alto with some tenor experience), my intonation seems to be pretty good up until I reach palm key D, then it feels like I have to bite to get pitches out and these notes are always about half a step flat or more. I'm fairly certain my problem lies in my embouchure, but can I get some advice on how to approach getting a fuller, more in-tune, and reliable sound on my high notes?

Gear: Cannonball Raven Big Bell Soprano
           Selmer C* S80
           Vandoren 3 blue box

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  1. by historicsaxwhisperer
    (506 posts)

    2 years ago

    Re: Palm Key Range Is Half a Step Flat on Soprano

    First, a straight saxophone should be played at about a minimum of 45 degree angle to your body.  Some players play them almost straight out, parallel to the ground. It is not a clarinet that has a different shaped mouthpiece. Since you are playing over a marching bank, keep this in mind.

     

    Do long tones. Dont be to worried about the fast fingers. Play the notes with a tuner and relax your neck muscles. John Coletrane would play and you could see his entire upper body expand with his relaxed throat muscles moving air. Long tones are long relaxed notes in the area you are truly concerned with.

     

    The Soprano is a totally different animal from the alto and Tenor. It is the harder horn to play well. In my College audition years, I auditioned on Soprano for my solo piece. Villa Lobos Fantasia. It was a very challenging acrobatic feat, but the goal was to play it flawlessly and effortlessly. My other pieces were on Tenor. Yes I was a major John Coltrane fan at 18 .

    Work on those long tones for a good solid tone.

    Do it in front of a mirror and make sure you are not biting too hard.Roll your lower jaw to pull notes into tune.

    Also....

    Advice from an internet post is something everybody should take with a grain of salt.

    Good Luck

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  2. by mijderf
    (257 posts)

    2 years ago

    Re: Palm Key Range Is Half a Step Flat on Soprano

    If you are biting down and still play flat, maybe you should try a softer reed.  My impression of blue box Vandorens is that they are a bit hard.  I would only go down about a 1/2 strength to start out, and you will need to reduce the biting to avoid pinching off the reed.  Also, check and see if your lower lip is positioned near the break point of the reed to the table.  Playing too far out near the tip can cause intonation issues, and dampen reed response.

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    1. by mijderf
      (257 posts)

      2 years ago

      Re: Palm Key Range Is Half a Step Flat on Soprano

      I do not play sop, so I tried to simulate your problem on alto.  I found that I had to pinch to play the palm keys, and they played flat when I used a reed that is soft.  Going up a 1/2 step in strength brought the palm keys back into tune.  This is the opposite of my previous recommendation.  So first, make sure your embouchure is set at the reed-table break point, and then try experimenting with both stronger and weaker reeds and see if that helps.  If your palm keys respond better with a stronger reed, recognize that you may not love the tone you get at the lowest end of the horn.  There is often a trade off.

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  3. by GFC
    (794 posts)

    2 years ago

    Re: Palm Key Range Is Half a Step Flat on Soprano

    Tongue position is a biggie, since the volume of the oral cavity and the mouthpiece work together to make the volume of the resonance chamber around the reed, which affects the intonation.   You might try raising your tongue position to decrease the volume of your oral cavity as an alternative to pinching the reed, to correct the upper-note intonation.  Once you've got that dialed in, you will find very little adjustment necessary to play up and down the scale.

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