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Distinguished Member, Forum Contributor 2008-2017
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Discussion Starter #1
I have been into altissimo since long ago. I have studied many legends on the matter, many actual players and I find that not that often, in Alto this is, you find something further than E4 (Concert G).

There must be a reason. Warren Hill usually stops at D4 (Concert F)... though he clearly can go way upper than that.

Pedro Julio, a very well known sax player around Latin America, very skilled and seeked professional for pop and the likes, also stops at D4 or C#4 (Concert E).

I usually work on having my solos up to A4 (Concert C), and sometimes I have tried to follow thos C5 (Concert Eb) that we have heard with Earl Bostic...

My feeling is that limiting up to F#4 (Concert A) works ok for the inmense use of that key. I know many think and I agree, that having a good use of all the horn is essential.

But musically speaking, having into consideration the regular tunes or solos you play, where would you think your altissimo stop? What note?

All the best,

JI
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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I guess the limit would be threshold of human hearing if you were as good as Bostic. Otherwise, keep it in the limits of what you can play in tune.
 

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On tenor I practice scales up to G4. During gigs I can consistently play up to F4 so the leave the F#4 and G4 alone during gigs. But I completely understand what your saying. Instead of always trying to get the highest note possible why not focus on using altissimo in a musical way. On alto I top out at D4.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
On tenor I practice scales up to G4. During gigs I can consistently play up to F4 so the leave the F#4 and G4 alone during gigs. But I completely understand what your saying. Instead of always trying to get the highest note possible why not focus on using altissimo in a musical way. On alto I top out at D4.
That's my take. And actually, has to do with my setup. I love the sound that some softer reeds give me, but getting out the F#4 sounds as if it really, really hard to.... and with other reeds, it pops out very easy, but the sound isn't of my complete liking...
 

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When I'm practicing, I go to G4. On the gig, I find it's really reliable up to E4 or so, but beyond that sometimes hit and miss. A lot of that has to do, I think, with inadequate time to put air through the horn and feel out the reed before a gig (especially a church gig where I wind up using relatively more of the altissimo stuff).
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
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I pretty much only play blues and funk music. Limiting my altissimo range seems pointless to me.

Lenny Pickett is one of my favorite players. If I have a good reed on and know I can hit those notes I don't see any reason not to play them.

Context though. You don't want to start high. Then you have nowhere to go. Having a massive altissimo range is like having a really cool trick up your sleeve. You don't want to show your aces right at the beginning of the game. You got to play a little. Bait them in.

What is super hard but really fun to do is big jumps. Play a "bass" note in your low end and then jump 3.5 or 4 octaves up. It's easier if you leave a little rest in between the two notes. Unless you do the Leo P overtone smash. I still can't do that one consistently.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
When I'm practicing, I go to G4. On the gig, I find it's really reliable up to E4 or so, but beyond that sometimes hit and miss. A lot of that has to do, I think, with inadequate time to put air through the horn and feel out the reed before a gig (especially a church gig where I wind up using relatively more of the altissimo stuff).
On alto?
 

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Regarding tenor, I can work my way up to a C5 pretty easily. You're essentially just playing the mouthpiece and neck at that point. Of course, I also work on scales and arpeggios up to that point. It's possible to do the same on alto, but personally I never go much further than the D4 range on that pitch.

I've recently come across Bert Wilson's altissimo fingering technique, which involves lifting LH 3 (Left ring finger) and using that as a 3rd octave key. Your altissimo fingerings involve your standard fingerings less the G key. So E4 would be a standard E without LH 3, and so on. They're pretty stable fingerings too. Surely makes scale runs easier to play.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Regarding tenor, I can work my way up to a C5 pretty easily. You're essentially just playing the mouthpiece and neck at that point. Of course, I also work on scales and arpeggios up to that point. It's possible to do the same on alto, but personally I never go much further than the D4 range on that pitch.

I've recently come across Bert Wilson's altissimo fingering technique, which involves lifting LH 3 (Left ring finger) and using that as a 3rd octave key. Your altissimo fingerings involve your standard fingerings less the G key. So E4 would be a standard E without LH 3, and so on. They're pretty stable fingerings too. Surely makes scale runs easier to play.
I will try it, thanks.
 

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Regarding tenor, I can work my way up to a C5 pretty easily. You're essentially just playing the mouthpiece and neck at that point. Of course, I also work on scales and arpeggios up to that point. It's possible to do the same on alto, but personally I never go much further than the D4 range on that pitch.

I've recently come across Bert Wilson's altissimo fingering technique, which involves lifting LH 3 (Left ring finger) and using that as a 3rd octave key. Your altissimo fingerings involve your standard fingerings less the G key. So E4 would be a standard E without LH 3, and so on. They're pretty stable fingerings too. Surely makes scale runs easier to play.
I'll give this a try too - it would certainty make some things easier.

I don't go over D4 on gigs (Tenor)...or often in practice either. The notes just don't seem very pleasing up there to me - even when a better player uses them. It's impressive - just not a necessary contribution to the music. I also think that the more notes you add beyond a certain point only reduce your playing time of notes that are more suited to the instrument... if that makes any sense at all...
 

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Consciously or unconsciously, my altissimo range seems always limited . . . . Still struggling to get out a decent note over F#3.

I should have said “very limited.”
 

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I don't go over D4 on gigs (Tenor)...or often in practice either. The notes just don't seem very pleasing up there to me - even when a better player uses them. It's impressive - just not a necessary contribution to the music. I also think that the more notes you add beyond a certain point only reduce your playing time of notes that are more suited to the instrument... if that makes any sense at all...
Makes perfect sense. At a certain point, you're flashing technique moreso than making music. After a certain point, even the virtuosos mostly impress... well... us. :lol:
 

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Big LP fan here too!
What is this? Multiphonic?
Well, altissimo playing comes in two flavors: there's the times when the line needs to go a couple notes up into that range to sound right before you turn it and head back down; and there's playing up there for the effect.

The first one, you don't really need to consciously limit anything, because the line you're playing will do that for you. The second one is like any effect, a little goes a long long way.

One of my mentors had a tendency to stay up there a lot and honestly I thought it detracted from the beautiful stuff he could do.
 

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I don't consciously limit anything, it just doesn't make sense musically to me.

Altissimo, like anything, is best with moderation. Some players like to hang out in the stratosphere and I get tired of it. Like scoops, growls, and other techniques, overusing them causes them to lose effectiveness imo. I'll hit some high notes when it feels right, but I try not to linger too long. I'm a bari player and like low notes more anyway :twisted:
 

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I don't consciously limit anything, it just doesn't make sense musically to me.

Altissimo, like anything, is best with moderation. Some players like to hang out in the stratosphere and I get tired of it. Like scoops, growls, and other techniques, overusing them causes them to lose effectiveness imo. I'll hit some high notes when it feels right, but I try not to linger too long. I'm a bari player and like low notes more anyway
[/QUOTE/)

+1, in practice you want to extend your range as far as possible, it makes everything under your highest notes sound better and come easier...in performance, it comes down to style and taste...
 

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Yep.. and it is just too much fun on a bari or even a bass to match the upper end of the scale of the alto player - but then they can't follow you down .. :twisted: :evil: :twisted: :whistle: :whistle:
 

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.....so I turned to my music teacher one day and said, “Why am I working on this crazy C?” He replied, “when you can nail that C in practice, this F below it will come out perfectly in concert. Other than that, Altissimo really isn’t that useful” I guess I have always worked on altissimo for a different reason than most.

I understand that it helps express personality for a soloist....but I’ve been trained that moderation is the best policy.
 

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I go where a line leads me. Sometimes I'll start a line on F4 just because I want to have lots of room to keep it going down and down to the bottom of the horn. It's not that remarkable to me. I admit though, sometimes at the end of an R&B tune, I'll play the highest note I have (usually A4 or Bb4) just to play higher than the trumpet spleech. Then I buy him a beer.
 
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