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From what I am always learning, one of the secrets to a good sound is proper airflow. When you play in the upper register, especially in the D2/E2+ range, the pitch tends to go very sharp because of the natural tendency to tense up. The upper register should flow just as easily as anywhere else on the horn. It takes time, patience, and discipline, but if you work on relaxing the throat and playing with an "open" feel, your sound will have more presence.

Also, by taking in a lot of mouthpiece, it makes the above easier, while at the same time, opening up the altissimo register.
 

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BlueNote said:
Also, by taking in a lot of mouthpiece, it makes the above easier, while at the same time, opening up the altissimo register.
That's something I learned here from the Barone threads on tone production.

Two teachers taught me the opposite. They both play with their teeth at the very tip of the piece, saying you get a better tone that way. It seems so at first, but I get lots better results in the long haul by using Phil's approach.
 

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Al, I experienced the same thing using Phil's techniques............. my sound is much more open now, but it's also way brighter, with more upper partials. But now the problem is that I feel like the warm core tone isn't strong enough!! Any ideas? I'm thinking of experimenting with different reed strengths to see if I can get a stronger core tone. Or maybe it's just my fate to have a bright sound................
 

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it's all about not tensing. Get another sax player to stand behind you and do the fingering on your horn while you just blow a constant stream of air with your eyes shut. you will see that when you don't know that you are going to play a high note and therefore have'nt tensed up, the note comes ouy perfectly....the same as the lower notes and the mid register ones.
 

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I like to concentrate on controlling my embouchre and internal air column separately. In other words, to voice higher notes I will shape my throat and mouth more narrowly to move faster, more focused air through the mpc. At the same time, my embouchre remains relaxed and as neutral as possible to let the note lock in at the right pitch.
 

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BlueNote said:
Also, by taking in a lot of mouthpiece, it makes the above easier, while at the same time, opening up the altissimo register.
Not quite sure what you mean about "opening up the altissimo register." If you mean taking in a lot of mpc makes altissimo more accessible, I don't agree, at least not in my experience. I find the altissimo to be the limiting factor for me in how much mpc I can take in. If I take TOO much mpc, altissimo becomes almost impossible. I'll stipulate that I use a fairly large tip opening (.120 tenor) and that may also be a factor. But there's a fine line. Take enough mpc to avoid deadening the reed or squeezing off the airstream, but not so much that altissimo becomes overly difficult.

But then, everyone is different, with a different jaw structure, mouth size, etc. So it is easy to over-generalize. I guess the one important factor is to take enough mpc to allow the reed to vibrate properly. Beyond that, it will vary from one individual to another.
 

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alsdiego said:
. . . my sound is much more open now, but it's also way brighter, with more upper partials. But now the problem is that I feel like the warm core tone isn't strong enough!! Any ideas? . . .
If you take in more mouthpiece, you will get a brighter sound. C'est la vie.

selmer said:
it's all about not tensing. Get another sax player to stand behind you and do the fingering on your horn while you just blow a constant stream of air with your eyes shut. you will see that when you don't know that you are going to play a high note and therefore have'nt tensed up, the note comes ouy perfectly....the same as the lower notes and the mid register ones.
This may work for doing certain octaves, but I don't see how this can work for high notes in general. It's not just about not tensing. It's also about properly placing the tongue, which is critical for properly articulating very high notes.
 

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having a strong stream of air ready to release at a moments notice is a huge key to sounding good. Having enough mouthpiece in your mouth is also very important. You don't have to overdue it though thinking more and more is always better. If you think you're not getting enough mouthpiece in try just adding a tiny bit at a time. As you add more mouthpiece into your mouth you will have to have even a stronger embouchoure to control it. Don't think pressure from top to bottom though. Think squeeze from the sides of your mouth. It's this side pressure you use to stay in tune and control the reed while still allowing it to vibrate freely. Remember everything you are doing is done to try and get the reed to vibrate better while still controlling your tone and pitch. Long tones, long tones, long tones. When you are sick of long tones I suggest playing some more long tones. When your roommate or wife begs you to play a song then maybe you can quit them for awhile.
 

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selmer said:
it's all about not tensing. Get another sax player to stand behind you and do the fingering on your horn while you just blow a constant stream of air with your eyes shut. you will see that when you don't know that you are going to play a high note and therefore have'nt tensed up, the note comes ouy perfectly....the same as the lower notes and the mid register ones.
I disagree with most of this but everyone is different.
 

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Playing flute teaches us that we have to shape our air a little differently for every note on the instrument. Playing overtones on the saxophone is how saxophone players learn this. I disagree too with the having another guy finger the horn exercise; it's counter-productive except if maybe a beginning student is biting and pinching out the higher octave. Time is better spent relaxing and realizing that each and every note has a dedicated pocket into which it fits in terms of your air speed and pressure.

If you had somebody do that exercise on the flute the results would be disastrous. Clarinet, perhaps even worse!
 

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Razzy said:
I disagree too with the having another guy finger the horn exercise;
Yeah, I never understood the reasoning behind this. I know for a fact that I "voice" every note differently. That's not to say I change my embouchure; it happens more in the throat & with the tongue. I think maybe this "have someone else finger the horn" exercise is geared toward maintaining a steady embouchure and for that purpose it may be ok. But imo, it's more harmful than helpful overall.
 

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dirty said:
Definitely. If someone else fingers all your notes for you, what are you gonna do when he's sick?

You could get the robot from Youtube that plays Giant Steps.
 

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selmer said:
it's all about not tensing. Get another sax player to stand behind you and do the fingering on your horn while you just blow a constant stream of air with your eyes shut. you will see that when you don't know that you are going to play a high note and therefore have'nt tensed up, the note comes ouy perfectly....the same as the lower notes and the mid register ones.
I interpret Selmer's statement as referring to tensing or tightening the embouchure to play the high register which results in a pinched-sharp tone. Having the instructor finger while the student blows is a useful teaching tool to demonstrate how open and in tune the student's tone can be in the high register when it is not "pinched off".

I think another important element in addition to the airstream and relaxing the throat is to play the "normal" range of the sax with essentially the same embouchure tightness (mouthpiece pitch).

John
 

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dirty said:
A match made in heaven!
Have you seen the Futurama where Frey goes to robot hell and trades hands with the robot devil so that he can play the holophone (a musical instrument that makes holographs)?
 
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