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Discussion Starter #1
So, I've been able to hit G3 on tenor for a while now - not completely consistently, and it sounds pretty thin. And when I first took my bari to a lesson I went up to about B4 or even C4 under my teacher's guidance, first go (but only patchily after that, not that I've bothered that much with altissimo on the bari). But I've mainly been playing tenor of late and my efforts to get above that G have not been blessed with success. Part of this I think is that I can walk up to the G by using the front F key to go E, F, F#, G, but then the A is a complete switch of fingering.

Until today! I decided to spend my entire practice session working on technique - long tones, overtones, scales, interval patterns - no tunes. And after a bit of this I thought I might have a crack at A3. No real expectation of success - but out it popped, strong and steady (I've read many times that it's a more stable note than the G and I can see now how true that is). Sometimes I can hit it straight out without walking up to it. I've managed to hit Bb a few times and the B feels like it's only just out of reach.

Not sure how much credit goes to plugging away at the overtones and how much to the mouthpiece - I'm using patmiller's Lakey 5*3, which he kindly lent to me, instead of my Meyer 5M. But either way I'm ridiculously happy about it. "Ridiculously" especially because when I tried to explain what the big deal was to my wife, I was battling to articulate a clear reason for even wanting to play altissimo. But on reflection I think it's to do with gaining better and better control over the instrument, and the simple satisfaction you get after succeeding in doing something difficult after a lot of time and effort.

Whoo-hoo!
 

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I can perfectly relate to your feeling, I went through a similar process. Congratulations !
 

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Discussion Starter #4
And don't let anyone dismiss your joy !
Thanks dexdex, I won't.

Didn't want to sound as though my wife was dismissive - she can see how pleased I am and is happy for me, even though it's not obvious to her why I'm so pleased.
 

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Good news Edwin. Every now and then I look at altissimo but I don't persevere. It's not my favourite sound and I always forget the fingering under pressure. I'm happy about the way you're getting some fun out of the piece though.
 

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well done my friend, my altissimo stinks so you story gives me hope :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks Patrick and milandro
Yes, I'm definitely having fun with the piece, thanks again.
Interestingly though - the more I play with your mouthpieces, the more I'm starting to appreciate that the Meyer actually has some good qualities. I'd been thinking in terms of the quest for the ideal mouthpiece but I'm starting to feel like I'm more likely to wind up with 2 or 3 mouthpieces that I play depending on mood/setting.
 

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Edwin,

Good for you! I'm sure you already are, but make sure you try different fingerings for the notes you refer to as weak, or almost there. I don't know what book you are using, but I think Top Tones says something to the effect of: his (Rascher's) are the only suitable fingerings and if you can't play them his way, you aren't ready, and need to practice more of his preliminary studies...HA! Look through other books. Most of them give multiple common fingerings for each note. It is just a matter of finding the one that works for your horn, MP and physiology.

Overtone matching also really helped me expand my range a little more comfortably. Play that good strong A3, then play the same tone while changing the fingering to B1...Shortly after I started playing (7 years ago), I was getting up to E4. Bad technique for me! I knew nothing about saxophone, and I was biting to get the pitch up there and using my ear to match what I heard, or make it true on the tuner. My first lesson teacher suggested overtones, then when we got up there, he started me on the pitch matching. It really helped me keep my embouchure honest.

I haven't really worked altissimo in a while, but my lesson teacher (same one as the overtone matching) turned me on to the Rosemary Lang book for altissimo study. I am not sure if it is still in print, but it has great exercises for playing into the altissimo range using chromatic (H step), scale (W step) and interval (1.5+ step) approaches, as well as simple melodies to get you used to playing around up there.

Congrats on your new note finding, and keep it up. Steve

UPDATE: Just did a SotW search and the Lang book is once again being printed! There are links to it in this thread if you are interested:

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?126928-Rosemary-Lang-Altissimo-Book-Back-in-Print
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks Steve, lots to chew on there. The books I have are just the basic ones I bought at the beginning. I have looked at some fingering charts but have found the range of options a bit daunting, so thus far I've just used the fingerings my teacher taught me. The Lang book looks like exactly what I need right now though - will give it a go.
 

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Thanks Steve, lots to chew on there. The books I have are just the basic ones I bought at the beginning. I have looked at some fingering charts but have found the range of options a bit daunting, so thus far I've just used the fingerings my teacher taught me. The Lang book looks like exactly what I need right now though - will give it a go.
Anytime! Altissimo fingerings can be funny. For a while my old teacher and I played essentially the same tenor and mouthpiece. His altissimo fingerings didn't work well for me on my horn...we even switched horns with the same result. I guess that shows that a lot of it is in your oral cavity and airstream.

The Lang book is a great melodic approach, and it gets you used to reading up there too. Most of the other books just write the notes an octave lower, she wrote them up there where they belong. Good luck! I think I will pull out my Lang book and work on it a bit this week...
 

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The High G is probably the most difficult - just for fun you might see if anything above the A speaks. (Ab is also a pain in the *&^%)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Definitely planning to push on upwards. Thanks for the warning about the Ab... will report progress.
 

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Just BTW, I'm currently play-testing some tenor mouthpieces after almost 10 years of peace with my current Link STM. One thing which strikes me: the altissimo fingerings I currently use on alto, tenor & bari (with almost no differences) sound totally out of tune on the 2 Jody Jazz I'm testing. So, to put it straight: there is NO 1 size fits all fingering chart up there. There also used to be people who thought there was only 1 currency or 1 religion ....
 

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Way to go brother!

After about 2 years working on it, I've got about 2-3 altissimo notes that I can hit pretty regularly in private...but I'm nowhere near being able to do anything musical with them yet. I can, now, however, very confidently hit (and split) my front F# in real playing, which I couldn't do before. If you can hit that G, you should be able to hit the D above (concert C on tenor) with just the Front F key. That one's really easy, I find.

How high can you go playing your overtone sequences from the low notes? I started out just trying to get the harmonic sequences down from the three lowest fundamentals, and I'm pretty much stuck at the regular top range of the horn. I'm still trying, but lately I'm finding that doing more diverse tone matching work is helping me to get the feel of controlling both tongue position and airspeed, which seems to be the real secret. The cool thing about that is that you can work overtone practice into all sorts of other exercises just by playing upper stack notes without the octave key.

Here's one I've been doing a lot lately (works with Bb through C#):

play C3 with no octave key
slur down to C2
match that C2 with C1 fingering
breath :)
play C3 with C1 fingering
slur down to G2 with C1 fingering
slur down to C2

When I do this with the tuner, I really start to get the feel of actively voicing using airspeed and tongue position. Both have to be controlled to get the note clear and in tune, and any kind of biting just throws the whole thing off.

Go for it!!!

R.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Way to go brother!

After about 2 years working on it, I've got about 2-3 altissimo notes that I can hit pretty regularly in private...but I'm nowhere near being able to do anything musical with them yet. I can, now, however, very confidently hit (and split) my front F# in real playing, which I couldn't do before. If you can hit that G, you should be able to hit the D above (concert C on tenor) with just the Front F key. That one's really easy, I find.

How high can you go playing your overtone sequences from the low notes? I started out just trying to get the harmonic sequences down from the three lowest fundamentals, and I'm pretty much stuck at the regular top range of the horn. I'm still trying, but lately I'm finding that doing more diverse tone matching work is helping me to get the feel of controlling both tongue position and airspeed, which seems to be the real secret. The cool thing about that is that you can work overtone practice into all sorts of other exercises just by playing upper stack notes without the octave key.

Here's one I've been doing a lot lately (works with Bb through C#):

play C3 with no octave key
slur down to C2
match that C2 with C1 fingering
breath :)
play C3 with C1 fingering
slur down to G2 with C1 fingering
slur down to C2

When I do this with the tuner, I really start to get the feel of actively voicing using airspeed and tongue position. Both have to be controlled to get the note clear and in tune, and any kind of biting just throws the whole thing off.

Go for it!!!

R.
Thanks mate - I really appreciate these practical tips that are coming in! Will give the above suggestions a go. That's very interesting about the mouthpiece/fingering relationship. Must confess I haven't dug out the tuner yet, for fear I may find myself wildly out and dampen the enthusiasm. But I'll get to that.
Best I can manage on overtones is Bb3 with Bb1 fingering. Once or twice I've hit the next note up; once or twice I've managed the same thing with C. But I feel like I'm making some progress with the overtones - getting more confident with hitting the note I want straight out, for example.
 

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Your wife still enjoys the creative process in you and so do we. Congratulations, it is a reason to "blow your own horn".
 

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Thanks mate - I really appreciate these practical tips that are coming in! Will give the above suggestions a go. That's very interesting about the mouthpiece/fingering relationship. Must confess I haven't dug out the tuner yet, for fear I may find myself wildly out and dampen the enthusiasm. But I'll get to that.
Best I can manage on overtones is Bb3 with Bb1 fingering. Once or twice I've hit the next note up; once or twice I've managed the same thing with C. But I feel like I'm making some progress with the overtones - getting more confident with hitting the note I want straight out, for example.
Yes...tuners can definitely do that. For me, the thing to use the tuner for is just to keep the biting out as much as possible (and not become overly concerned with exact tuning.) What I've noticed is that any excess biting just destroys my ability to focus/sustain the harmonic notes, and the tuner shows me when that biting starts to creep in. I'm working on a very tolerant notion of "in tune" for the notes (say within .20 cents).

cheers!

edit: actually I'm not quite sure whether it's biting or lip tension exactly, or a combination of both. Whatever it is, the feeling of those notes "popping out" almost always seems to be catching just the right airspeed with a very relaxed embouchure.
 

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NO 1 size fits all fingering chart up there. There also used to be people who thought there was only 1 currency or 1 religion ....

You are treading on thin ice. Just by using the word "religion", you risk having your post deleted by SAXISMYAXE and getting a private "warning." I don't agree with this, I'm just saying that's what happened to me. Nevermind that you were within the spirit of the rules.
 
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