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I wouldn't recommend to a beginner to start out on both horns.
 

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Here is a problem don't do it. Sell one of the horns. Take your pick, and a year from now get the other instrument.

Tenor and Alto are just well, different.
Playing Tenor, requires a looser embrochure, and also the pitch is different.
Alto is just the opposite. Just grab a horn, many learn on Alto you don't have to though, and pratice. Their are a lot of things to watch out for, and learning to play both horns WELL will be hard. Learning how to play one horn WELL will be hard.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Carbs When you say the pitch is different - does that mean that playing the same fingering on both instruments will produce two different notes?
 

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I ment that the concert pitch is different.
If you play G, the concert pitch on Tenor is F Alto it is Bflat. They are complete opposites. The Tenor mostly becuase of the size is a lower sounding instrument. I personally learned on Alto, but would have rather have learned on Tenor. It is really personal preference, but you need to just learn one horn at a time.
 

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Learning to read, transpose and play music in E-flat (for alto sax) takes a lot of time if you want to do it well. The same for B-flat (for tenor sax). It's like learning two different languages. Doing these at the same time is not recommended.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Assume I have no intention of learning to read music or transcribe - I'll be playing everything by ear - I don't quite understand what is meant by concert pitch being different...

All I want to know is, apart from the octave possibly being lower on a tenor than an alto - if I use the same fingering on both tenor and an alto - will the same note play on each? (albeit probably in a different octave?)

Thanks.
 

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zaxroots said:
.......All I want to know is, apart from the octave possibly being lower on a tenor than an alto - if I use the same fingering on both tenor and an alto - will the same note play on each? (albeit probably in a different octave?)

Thanks.
Not quite as easy as 'octaves' - tenor is in Bb (i.e. finger a 'sax' C and concert Bb comes out), and alto is in Eb (i.e. finger a 'sax' C and concert Eb comes out). 'Concert' in this case, for practical purposes, meaning 'same as piano, flute or guitar note'. As saxophone sizes increase (or decrease) the pitch alternates between Eb and Bb, so for saxes to be 'an octave' apart you have to skip a size.

The only way you could play two different saxes and have the 'same pitch' - but at an octave apart - is to either learn tenor + soprano (both in Bb), or alto + baritone (both in Eb). There are other combinations at extreme ends of the saxophone family, but I haven't mentioned those as they'd be far too difficult to start on (as are, in all honesty, soprano and baritone....)


So, if you learn play tunes by ear, then (e.g.) the finger patterns that you use for a tune on alto will come out at a different pitch on a tenor. Not a problem if you play alone, but with other instruments you'll have some funny harmonies.... If you do go for alto + tenor, you'll effectively have to learn each tune in a different key for each sax, if you play both in company.

As others have recommended, probably better to initially learn on only one sax, apart from pitch differences, you can develop an embouchure for just one sax much easier ! Also, playing by ear, if you have an ear that recognises pitch, and is able to associate the pitch with a certain sax fingering ( a useful skill), tenor and alto will have different fingerings for every (concert) note - another complication you probably don't initially need.


Hope that long-winded explanation helped. Unless you really want to play tenor from day one, initially learn alto - to take on two saxes 'at once' isn't like playing two different keyboards (and that wasn't meant to sound as patronising as it came out...).

Regards, Alan.

P.S. and I didn't once mention "that's why I play C-Tenor and C-Soprano", don't go there if you're just starting out....:)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
cmelodysax Thanks very much! - That was indeed a helpful explanation!

It's a lot to chew on... especially since I don't like taking "no" for an answer :) )

My ultimate plan is to be able to play/record a whole horn section (myself) with harmonies etc... so that's why I'm impatient to learn on more than one sax.

The sound of the soprano doesn't really appeal to me but maybe I have to change my thinking on that and get used to it... eventually play all three (sop, alto and tenor) (I'd love to from day one :) I understand developing my embrochure(s) would be the biggest problem...

My real problem is that I'm too greedy and impatient for results :) - I'm motivated by "need" (not want) - I also want (need ;) ) to learn trumpet and trombone too. Obviously I don't want to be an expert in all - just good enough to record some fairly simple stuff. For me it's all about "feel" rather than dazling speed.

Gee - It would've helped (for harmonies) if the instruments were a 3rd or 5th from each other...

I guess if I wanted to get a sop I would have to start on that one first being as it's the smallest (for developing the embrochure)...

I suppose there's no harm in having/owning the instruments and focusing on one (say sop) with occassionally messing around with the others for a break now and then... and then (after a few months or a year) gradually increase/start practicing with them all.

I'm just thinking aloud and rambling...

Thanks again for everyones help.
 

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I bought all three and realized that I need a year on one before moving on to the others for exactly the reasons stated here. I'm not sure I agree with selling one horn, you might not have the $ to get it later. I'd just shelve it for a while.
 

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As a teacher and player, I would recommend that you start on alto, definitely not soprano.

In addition, I recommend you get a competent teacher. Sax is not an instrument that lends itself well to self-teaching, especially in the beginning.
 

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"Beginner Starting out Learning on Alto and Tenor at same time..."

When I first saw this heading I was going to recommend intensely studying some Rashaan Roland Kirk videos.
 

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hakukani said:
As a teacher and player, I would recommend that you start on alto, definitely not soprano.

In addition, I recommend you get a competent teacher. Sax is not an instrument that lends itself well to self-teaching, especially in the beginning.
Start on Alto. And get a teacher, learn how to read music too you will be glad you did.
 

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Zaxroots, you say you don't like to take no for an answer. You can use that to your advantage. Despite the fact that it is better to just use one saxophone to start out on, there are many things you will need to accomplish in playing the sax. Take them all out one at a time. That's why a good teacher can help (although I never had one, it would have made things easier).

Beat the crap out of those scales and long tone practices and you will eventually master your sax (and it will take a few years, just to put things in perspective). Just keep at it.
 

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zaxroots said:
My real problem is that I'm too greedy and impatient for results :) - I'm motivated by "need" (not want) - I also want (need ;) ) to learn trumpet and trombone too. Obviously I don't want to be an expert in all - just good enough to record some fairly simple stuff. For me it's all about "feel" rather than dazling speed.
I think it's commendable that you want to use authentic sounds rather than synthesized horn parts for your recording purposes; and wish to learn all the voices. Thing is, it takes time to develop a tone on each of these instruments you desire to play. Think of an elementary school band. That could be your sound for a good year or two... and quite frankly, some never quite shake it. Tone is ultimately what you're looking for, but there's no fast and easy way to get it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, I got my first sax delivered this afternoon. For thelast few days I was studying Larry Teal's "The Art of Saxophone Playing" - the sax arrived - time for the big test - I put the reed in my mouth and started to assemble the sax - adjust the neck strap - get ready to blow -this is the moment of truth!!!

I start to blow - beautiful!!! Lovely tone!!! I'm pressing keys and going up and down the scale - no idea what notes I'm playing but they're coming out strong and rich... no squeaks... no struggle... plenty of "air" seems to be the key... proper embouchure...

I played around with various notes and scale runs for about half an hour - and I'm very pleased with my first time results - thrilled!

I'll be taking some lessons - plus, I just ordered Pete Thomas's instructional DVD - I already watched Ed Calle's.

Based on how easy I found it today - I have absolutely no doubt I'll (relatively) master this alto sax in a couple of months!!! I have a tenor on the way too!!! ;)
 

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I guess I'm a freak....?
I'm working on tenor, alto, and Bb clarinet at the same time and am progressing equally well in all three... learning to read music because nearly perfect pitch isn't enough...
...lots and lots of compliments on tone on all three instruments by seasoned musicians...
...but then again, I taught myself fluent French, Italian, and Spanish simultaneously, with little or no accent... I guess 400 years of musicianship on both sides of my family lend themselves to a "quick ear"...
...and everybody told me I couldn't self-teach myself ONE language...
...or ONE instrument.
Hmmm.
I guess DESIRE has a little something to do with it?
They say music is a universal language...
...if I can remember that "life" translates to "vida" in Spanish, and "vita" in Italian, and "vie" in French... why can't I learn corresponding fingerings for concert pitches on different saxes simultaneously? It all depends on your didactic approach... MULTIPLE SENSES INVOLVED IN THE LEARNING PROCESS TEND TO SPEED LEARNING. Hence listening to jazz CDs on repeat and trying to play back what I hear on ALL THREE INSTRUMENTS regardless of what key they stand in... all the while drilling the transposed note names into my head.... involving sheet music demands use of one more sense, thereby reinforcing the "circuits" being "burned" into my brain....
....not everybody learns the same.
Incidentally, I speak nine languages.... I laugh my *** off at the naysayers who said I'd never master the second... or the third... or the fourth...
... you get the picture.
Just be honest with yourself... unless you think in leaps and bounds, and not in a linear sense like most people, dividing your attention will probably make mastery of any given one take a bit longer....
...I suspect that if you don't mix up words in different languages, you won't mix up fingerings on a saxophone (or clarinet).
I prefer to think of them as different sonic "colors", as I did when learning languages... I would never use a Russian word in a French sentence, anymore than I would use the fingering corresponding to a C# concert on an alto while playing a tenor part... separation becomes second nature.
Sorry so long-winded... I'm not GREAT on any instrument... but nobody has ever told me I suck, either. I just work VERY hard and PAY ATTENTION TO THE NUANCES.
Oh... and regarding embouchure (which is French in origin... lol) ... I find that playing a Link 6* on my tenor and using a Dukoff 9 on my alto makes switching back and forth relatively easy... any explanations for why this might be?
 

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Yea Its always one thing to explain how its best done to be traditional.

I started on soprano, then played alto, then baritone, then tenor all within a short period of time. Now I play them all, one right after the other. I actually find it really works my embouchure, playing my Bari first warms me up and helps keep me from getting to tight, I play my tenor next usually, then its up for grabs whats next, some times ill hope over to the trombone. Don't get me wrong im nothing special on any of them, but good tone, and for a white guy I have decent rhythm

record and listen and match tone and pitch . . . . its easy. In fact once your ear gets used to it you find your fingers auto transcribing.

Long tones on one while listening to a long tone on another . . . make chords, match pitch . . . play scales while the recording of the long tone plays . . you will hear when you hit a note that does not fit . . . look . . listen . . . be interested . . . again its cake, IMHO Sax is one of the easier instruments to play . . . I guess I am spoiled I have a lot of instruments to play with.
 
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