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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The reason I ask is that I have a small, single reed instrument that I've been making. At sea level, it plays reasonably well. I took it up to 8000 ft (2440 m, for the non-imperialists) and it barely played at all.

This instrument is a very finicky little thing, and I wondered if high elevation has the same, or similar, effect on a much more forgiving instrument like the sax. (Unfortunately I didn't have my sax with me.)
 

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I think the thinner air at higher altitudes does have an impact. The last time I played in Colorado, I noticed that the horn seemed to play with noticeably less resistance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Whereas my experience - on my little horn, not a sax - was that I could blow quite hard, but very little sound came out, against terrific resistance. The pitch was also much less stable. Even being very careful to produce consistent pressure, the instrument was wildly off intonation. Back at sea level, it sounds pretty good, with the same reed.

The tone actually improved slightly (at high altitude) when I used a harder reed. I suspect this means that the harder reed was allowing greater air pressure to build up before it snapped closed. My guess is that the thinner air was less capable of producing the pressure differential between inside and outside the tube, so the standing waves were not setting up as readily. But as I say, this is a ridiculously finicky horn. That's why I'm curious how the sax experience relates.
 
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