Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, A general question in relation to playing altissimo and gear set up.

Does the tip opening of the mouthpiece have an effect on the ability to access altissimo?

example. I play a Dukoff d6 on my blue label B&S tenor (high f# key) and I am able to hit altissimo G (using ricco 2...going to move to v12 2.5) whereas I play a Meyer 5mm on alto (no f# key) and i'm having a hard time getting to the high G. (using v16 2.5)

and a gear set up question. any recommendations on ligatures for the dukoff mouthpiece, i'm looking to upgrade

thanks everyone
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2017
Joined
·
6,169 Posts
Everyone's experience is different but as best as I can tell, altissimo works like this: You try and try with little to no success and then one day you produce a really nice altissimo note or three.

Then you spend the next few weeks / months trying to reproduce that first effort.
If all the stars line up and you have exactly the right mouthpiece and reed you might actually feel like you're making progress.
The very next day on the same setup, nothing will work.
As long as you work up to it you might eventually find that you have put together a small scale....perhaps an entire octave. Budget several weeks / months for this. It's still going to be hit and miss.
Over time you may even decide you're going to go out and hit that high screamer on stage....what will happen at this point is either a horrible squawk or nothing...
Time passes.

You continue to work at it.

more time passes

Eventually your altissimo becomes an extension of your normal range. You will be able to pick up your sax and blow that high G as your first note without any real thought or preparation - any working reed and mouthpiece combo will do.

You can then spend the rest of your life trying not to overplay altissimo. All those other notes are there for a reason. Use them.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
652 Posts
Hi all, A general question in relation to playing altissimo and gear set up.

Does the tip opening of the mouthpiece have an effect on the ability to access altissimo?

example. I play a Dukoff d6 on my blue label B&S tenor (high f# key) and I am able to hit altissimo G (using ricco 2...going to move to v12 2.5) whereas I play a Meyer 5mm on alto (no f# key) and i'm having a hard time getting to the high G. (using v16 2.5)

and a gear set up question. any recommendations on ligatures for the dukoff mouthpiece, i'm looking to upgrade

thanks everyone
The short answer is yes. You have to bite the sh*t out of your reed to get those really high notes, so you need space to do that without closing off the tip opening. I personally don't use much above C4, because it's annoying. Too many sax players are **** artists, trying to be the fastest, squealiest kid on the block. I can't stand that stuff. It's not music to me. If I use those high notes it's just for brief bits of color, not the entire solo.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,603 Posts
I have a very difficult time with altissimo and just overtones in general, and I'm hoping it's like flute and I just don't know the "secret". On flute it has to do with lips and where the air stream goes, and once you get it, it's kind of like magic- the note just happens, and there's no strain or stress with it (no "biting the sh*t out of anything) . But of course it doesn't just happen, the preparation makes it happen. If I could join the altissimo club, that'd be great.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,302 Posts
Work on Top Tones. I have found that with practice hard biting or any kind of strain is not needed. It's more about the formation of your mouth innards. Once you find the placement, the only effort is in maintaining that placement. Practicing takes care of that...

More than just enabling you to play high notes, it is great for your overall tone and tone control.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,603 Posts
Work on Top Tones. I have found that with practice hard biting or any kind of strain is not needed. It's more about the formation of your mouth innards. Once you find the placement, the only effort is in maintaining that placement. Practicing takes care of that...

More than just enabling you to play high notes, it is great for your overall tone and tone control.
Expand on "formation of mouth innards" please-
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,978 Posts
If Rascher's to be believed, it's not easily explained, as it's all about translating the "inner ear" and "inner experience" into bodily performance, like singing. Then again, I can barely get two notes in the altissimo register, let alone any note on a flute. I'm sure others have more specific suggestions for how to voice altissimo, but probably it's a lot of trial and error to see what works for you.

A high-baffle mp might help too. I slapped a Fibracell on a Metalite alto, and damn if I wasn't playing Young Americans just like Sanborn! Well, maybe not just like him....
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2017
Joined
·
6,169 Posts
I have a very difficult time with altissimo and just overtones in general, and I'm hoping it's like flute and I just don't know the "secret". On flute it has to do with lips and where the air stream goes, and once you get it, it's kind of like magic- the note just happens, and there's no strain or stress with it (no "biting the sh*t out of anything) . But of course it doesn't just happen, the preparation makes it happen. If I could join the altissimo club, that'd be great.
Yes. You’ve got it. No biting the siht out of anything... one day the first note just slots into place. That is the beginning....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Expand on "formation of mouth innards" please-
I have been trying to encompass the range of information on this issue. It's a huge task. We have the oral cavity measurements of pro sax players playing various notes showing consistent formation of oral cavity into certain pitches in the altissimo range, we have tons of people advocating different views (teachers who teach lip-only altissimo, teachers who claim not to do anything with their tongues, teachers who say the throat can't be manipulated, teachers who say the larynx is the key, but then there are people with missing vocal cords who apparently play altissimo just fine (?)).

I've seen suggestions to take cues from singing (but others say no, it's different!), singing with oral tract manipulation for maximum overtones, growling, whistling, whistling inward, "air with tone" (??), "a little lip is okay"/"don't lip it"/"don't give me no lip how dare you ask questions go get a teacher" (--okay shall I get one of the ones who say it's all lip or are you going to find a good one for me... oops did I say that out loud... )

Anyone who posts new hints on how to get there will have the heartfelt gratitude of many struggling souls. :cheers:
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
8,284 Posts
Once you get G all the others suffer.
I have always found G the easier to get on Tenor and baritone regardless of mouthpiece.
All except for on my conn 12m with no front f.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
841 Posts
If Rascher's to be believed, it's not easily explained, as it's all about translating the "inner ear" and "inner experience" into bodily performance, like singing. Then again, I can barely get two notes in the altissimo register, let alone any note on a flute. I'm sure others have more specific suggestions for how to voice altissimo, but probably it's a lot of trial and error to see what works for you.

A high-baffle mp might help too. I slapped a Fibracell on a Metalite alto, and damn if I wasn't playing Young Americans just like Sanborn! Well, maybe not just like him....

LOL...... Young Americans line did me in this morning. Thanks for the laugh
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,862 Posts
Hi, did you ever try slightly harder reeds, 3 and/or 3.5? That might be the issue because you’re not playing more open mouthpieces on either alto or tenor. I’d try Java 3 and/or Rico select jazz 3m.

As for a ligature for the Dukoff that can be a bit more challenging because each one is not perfectly uniform in shape. A slim line Rovner Versa for tenor metal pieces might be a good choice. Try focusing on the reeds first, where you setup your ligature on the stock is important and make a point of playing E3 to F#3 using the front F key, those 3 notes played consistently in that manner should give anyone an insight that altissimo should also play smoothly before G3 and you’ll have a realistic assessment of your set up. Once you get a G#3 fingering working that doesn’t involve the front F key being used, you’ll understand altissimo is really a pattern of higher pitched cross fingerings that involve the support of overtone embochure technique. And like all who posted patience with all of this, I’ll throw my hat into the ring and agree with that.

Hi all, A general question in relation to playing altissimo and gear set up.

Does the tip opening of the mouthpiece have an effect on the ability to access altissimo?

example. I play a Dukoff d6 on my blue label B&S tenor (high f# key) and I am able to hit altissimo G (using ricco 2...going to move to v12 2.5) whereas I play a Meyer 5mm on alto (no f# key) and i'm having a hard time getting to the high G. (using v16 2.5)

and a gear set up question. any recommendations on ligatures for the dukoff mouthpiece, i'm looking to upgrade

thanks everyone
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2012
Joined
·
2,135 Posts
Everyone's experience is different but as best as I can tell, altissimo works like this: You try and try with little to no success and then one day you produce a really nice altissimo note or three.

Then you spend the next few weeks / months trying to reproduce that first effort.
If all the stars line up and you have exactly the right mouthpiece and reed you might actually feel like you're making progress.
The very next day on the same setup, nothing will work.
As long as you work up to it you might eventually find that you have put together a small scale....perhaps an entire octave. Budget several weeks / months for this. It's still going to be hit and miss.
Over time you may even decide you're going to go out and hit that high screamer on stage....what will happen at this point is either a horrible squawk or nothing...
Time passes.

You continue to work at it.

more time passes

Eventually your altissimo becomes an extension of your normal range. You will be able to pick up your sax and blow that high G as your first note without any real thought or preparation - any working reed and mouthpiece combo will do.

You can then spend the rest of your life trying not to overplay altissimo. All those other notes are there for a reason. Use them.

Thanks, this actually gives me hope! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
70 Posts
I have a very difficult time with altissimo and just overtones in general, and I'm hoping it's like flute and I just don't know the "secret". On flute it has to do with lips and where the air stream goes, and once you get it, it's kind of like magic- the note just happens, and there's no strain or stress with it (no "biting the sh*t out of anything) . But of course it doesn't just happen, the preparation makes it happen. If I could join the altissimo club, that'd be great.
Calling it a secret is a bit misleading, the idea is pretty simple, but yes, it eventually becomes natural. My advice is to keep working on overtones and to not worry about it. It'll happen eventually. I know that's easier said than done, my altissimo came really late in my playing career so I definitely understand how you feel.

Though F# and G are the only altissimo notes firmly in my range, so caveat emptor.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,302 Posts
Expand on "formation of mouth innards" please-
I think Serafino said it better than I probably can. I'm not an expert by any means. I just found that after working on it for a while, it didn't require extraordinary pressure in the embouchure, didn't require blowing hard, could be quiet as easily as loud, and seemed to be highly dependent on forming my throat, soft palate, and whatever sort of intangible stuff that's in there to fit the note. It became clearer to me when playing those notes softly, because you start to re-think it as not a stressful difficult thing but just something that takes a practiced precision in placement. As was said, there are probably other ways that it's taught and I am just learning this stuff myself and just sharing my experience fwiw. When I was playing mostly alto, it became natural for me (I've never worried about playing past the first altissimo Bb) but could never get anywhere with tenor or bari. This year playing more tenor, I've been doing the work in Top Tones and just putting in the time seems to have made all the difference.

I do find Rascher's writing about it sometimes a bit wavy gravy but I also have experienced it working when I was having difficulty playing a tone, to imagine I was singing it. Even if way out of my range, it sometimes made a difference. Go figure...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,559 Posts
Think of a mountain goat perched on a rock and jumping to another.
It looks impossible but they do it with ease all the time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,652 Posts
Calling it a secret is a bit misleading, the idea is pretty simple, but yes, it eventually becomes natural. My advice is to keep working on overtones and to not worry about it. It'll happen eventually. I know that's easier said than done, my altissimo came really late in my playing career so I definitely understand how you feel.

Though F# and G are the only altissimo notes firmly in my range, so caveat emptor.
Same goes for me: the only altissimo notes I can get reliably are F#, G, G#, and A, perhaps the occasional Bb, so take this with a grain of salt. But for me, working with overtones was the key. Prior to that, I thought I needed to "bite the xxxx out of it" to get those notes, but it's actually a matter of controlling the overtones.

As far as I can tell, what happens in altissimo is that the back of my throat opens up and I change the airstream a little (is it faster maybe?) while I'm "hearing" the altissimo note in my inner ear, and then ... there it is!

The reason I sound so uncertain about it is that I am uncertain about it. As near as I can tell, whatever's happening in the back of the throat involves a bunch of muscles we don't necessarily have conscious control over, but which we can ultimately learn to control by practicing overtones. FWIW my advice would be to practice overtones every day and don't worry too much about your set up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
43 Posts
I can hit up to high C on alto. A high baffle mpc like dukoff helps with this, but I had to learn the fingerings myself. The books and websites didn't help. I use a Rico standard lig on my dukoff, soprano size. This size should work for both alto and tenor dukoff.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,205 Posts
I can hit up to high C on alto. A high baffle mpc like dukoff helps with this, but I had to learn the fingerings myself. The books and websites didn't help. I use a Rico standard lig on my dukoff, soprano size. This size should work for both alto and tenor dukoff.
The “wiggle the fingers until it’s altissimo” approach. It’s nothing new.
I’ve never felt the mouthpiece matters, but the reed sure does. I find altissimo easier with softer or more broken in reeds than going up in strength.
High baffles don’t give you the roundness of altissimo like a Link will.
All the high end gets amplified when you get up there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,862 Posts
Ok so we’re a week into this thread and I hope the OP weighs in on anything that has been said. I quoted the initial post and responded, hopefully, to the specifics that were articulated. Again just like virtually everything related to playing saxophone it’s all personal/individual and that varies, not as widely as it is expressed at times, but distinctions and preferences should be focused on good results regardless of the sound a player is going after.
As for the Rovner Versa I mentioned, its code for Dukoff tenor pieces is V-2MT. I hope that helps.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top