Sax on the Web Forum Archive / Alto Saxophone / Is alto your "voice"?

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Ian O'B.
User ID: 0979534
Jul 10th 11:59 AM
I'm pretty proficient on both alto and tenor, but I've always felt alto is closer to my "voice", meaning it is more expressive of my ideas. Anyone else experience this?
WG
User ID: 0234554
Jul 10th 12:36 PM
I've always enjoyed the sound of the alto more than the other saxes. It can produce a pure sound without the nasal inflection found in the soprano. I've played all the saxes (except bass) and I've always favored the alto.
mostly alto guy
User ID: 0122954
Jul 10th 3:46 PM
Yes, definitely true for me also. More expressive in the range of a torchy female jazz singer. Quicker responding than tenor, not quacky like soprano can be. And it fits in my suitcase inside the case.
winesax
User ID: 9063723
Jul 10th 3:54 PM
I won't argue that the Alto gives a more expressive range for ballads....more opportunity for ideas to flow. It always has been #1 in my book. I'm with you all the way. Alto is it for me.
brianm
User ID: 2484284
Jul 10th 4:46 PM
Like mostly alto guy said "...in the range of a torchy female jazz singer." While the tenor is more of a male singer thing. For guys, when you're quietly humming a medium slow tune can you hear/feel the tenor sax resonance in your voice? As you get louder and quicker you can hear more of the alto sound coming thru.

$0.02
Dr G
User ID: 0916684
Jul 10th 6:19 PM
No, louder and quicker does not a female make.

And "more expressive range for ballads"??? What crock.

I guess you alto players don't care to hear any other perspectives.

Go for the tone - whatever one you hear.

Mine is a tenor.
Bootman
User ID: 1676554
Jul 10th 6:22 PM
They all pale into insignificance when the Baritone comes to town, you want ballad expression, raw power, earth shaking rumblings, screaming altissimo, then Baritone it be. Bass is even more fun......
MBushaw
User ID: 1118614
Jul 10th 6:23 PM
Although it seems I usually have to play alto, I feel my 'voice' is bari. Just as flexable as the lighter horns, and can shake the dust off the rafters too!
Alto
User ID: 8924643
Jul 10th 8:23 PM
For me, I consider alto sound is my voice. It can be happy, unhappy, very sad & drepress. Beside alto, I think soprano also close to human voice. But it's a little bit fake, not as real as alto sound.
Dr G
User ID: 0916684
Jul 11th 9:43 AM
... and just like a baritone (on helium).


winesax
User ID: 9063723
Jul 11th 10:37 AM
Ooooops.... How did us Alto guys let those Tenor and Bari guys sneak in. Good points about earth shaking rumblings... shaking the dust off the rafters...ala Ronnie Cuber... hard to do with an Alto.
MBushaw
User ID: 2226594
Jul 11th 11:02 AM
winesax- depends on how hard you throw the alto...
Roger Aldridge
User ID: 0735934
Jul 11th 11:32 AM
I tend to play somewhat differently on each of my horns (clarinet, soprano, alto, and c-melody). Perhaps each is a different aspect of myself. ???

I've always loved to play ballads on alto. However, the clarinet can be incredibly sexy on ballads. One can play very subtle inflections on clarinet that just aren't the same as on a saxophone. Of course, the other way around is also true.

I need to say a word about the soprano sax.
It doesn't have to have a nasal sound. I've worked hard to get a dark, clear, mellow, close to classical soprano sound. I get a lot of enjoyment out of playing soprano with this sound. It's the kind of soprano sound that I hear in my head. I can't stand a nasal soprano. For me, it's like fingernails scratching on a blackboard.

Recently someone gave me a really cool complement. I played unaccompanied for a friends wedding. I was up in the balcony and the people couldn't see what instruments I was playing. I switched between all of my horns. The final tunes were on soprano. After the wedding someone came up and complemented on my TRUMPET playing. That felt really good! Now, if the person had said OBOE I would have hightailed it back to the woodshed.
mostly alto guy
User ID: 0122954
Jul 11th 3:47 PM
"Alto" rafter shaking can be acomplished with an SX90R and some, shall we say, persistence. Assuming the ceiling's not too high and the rafters are small.
Ian O'B.
User ID: 0979534
Jul 11th 7:39 PM
Interesting response... just to add, I feel more "aristocratic" with my alto, if that is possible, and the tenor sax seems to represent my sly side. Could just be that I have a very mellow and cold tone on the alto while my tenor is pure edge. My bari sound is somewhere in between, but it's definitely a lot BIGGER, as it should be.
[email protected]
User ID: 9725373
Jul 12th 12:02 AM
Just found this thread, while I love the alto, and this is what I play now, when I was in highschool, which was more moons back than I want to admit but not too many, I played Bari in the jazz band,by choice thank you. Man I love the low rich as raspy sound that a bari has. So much fun. Man our store has a really beat up bari I might just have to get.
winesax
User ID: 9063723
Jul 12th 12:29 PM
Ian O'B..... I'm the exact opposite. I play my Alto with an edge aka. Cannonball...Play tenor like a wet dishmop... never could get a good driving sound out of the Tenor like I can with my Alto. I WISH I could get any sound out of a Bari.
BobH
User ID: 9467593
Jul 12th 12:36 PM
Cool thread. I grew up playing alto, and the sound and thinking are so ingrained in me now that it's part of who I am. Can't imagine majoring on a different sax. I've had my stints with tenor and frequently practice on soprano, but picking up the alto always feels like coming home.

Hearing Charlie Parker for the first time years ago was a revelation, and Phil Woods pretty much sealed it for me. Man, what a fat, joyous, buoyant sound that guy has!

Nothing at all against the other horns, by the way; each of the saxes has its applications, its strong and weak points. In my opinion, if your horn (or horns) of choice--whatever it may be--shapes your musical conception, is true to the music being played, and allows you to express yourself with creativity, clarity, authenticity, and passion, then who could ask for more?
RA
User ID: 9732463
Jul 13th 9:56 PM
I was just thinking about this topic. In my horn group,I am presently playing alto since the other guy only owns a tenor.On alto, I like to play high, much like I used to sing falsetto on those old fifties rock and roll songs.When I sing, I sing in a higher range.However, when I play tenor,I enjoy the range and tonal quality, especially when playing blues and R&B.I feel comfortable with both, but I think I lean towards the tenor.I can express myself a bit better with it.It's more like a talking voice.
alto-itis
User ID: 8890073
Jul 14th 3:25 PM
i mostly play alto, but i do quite a bit on soprano as well. when most of my friends switched to tenor, i stuck with alto. it gives me a distinct sound that i cant get with tenor or soprano
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