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Discussion Starter #1
Hello forum,

I know there are three different fingerings for the B flat, but I didn't get which one should I use, and when.

I already know that I will probably never use the small key near the B key, because it feels *really* unnatural to me, the turning motion of the wrist, so I don't see how I can use it in a scale playing at a decent speed.
Speaking of scales, it also feels weird using the A+shoulder in scales like Ab, where I find more natural the B+F combination, but not in scales like F, especially going up, where it's just perfect.
Also, some phrases in famous songs just baffle me: e.g. take five, there's a (C-F-Ab-Bb)(B-C-B-Bb)Ab in which I instinctively would use different fingerings for the two Bb.

What should I do?
Choose one and stick to it? Choose one depending on the key of the song? Just use whatever feels more natural? And, in the last case, what about when I train doing scales?

Thank you all!
 

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Lots of folks use all of them. Choose according to the situation. I tend to put my index finger on the B key AND that little key (the bis key) and leave it there in flat key signatures.
 

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I have always found that the side A# is the fullest sounding one, followed by B+bis and B+F in order of decreasing strength. Might just be me?
 

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Keilwerth saxes (S/A/T), Selmer clarinets (S/B), Altus Azumi flute
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There are actually 4 different standard fingerings (the fourth is B + F#), and you should definitely choose according to the situation. For example, the B + F# is really useful when arpeggiating BMaj7 chords.

As datsaxman mentioned, the bis Bb isn't really meant to be used for transitions between B and Bb. Most players would only use it for runs that do not include B natural.

FWIW, I practice all of my flat key scales with both the bis and the side Bb fingerings. In actual playing, I primarily use the side key (~50% of the time) and the bis (~30%) fingerings. I use the other two "fork" fingerings less than 20% of the time, almost exclusively when playing arpeggios.

If you search the archives, there's an old poll that indicates how often each fingering is used. IIRC, the breakdown approximately matches my use pattern: players are roughly equally likely to use the side and bis fingerings and much less likely to use the other two.
 

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Keilwerth saxes (S/A/T), Selmer clarinets (S/B), Altus Azumi flute
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This is the thread that I referenced in my earlier post.
 

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I already know that I will probably never use the small key near the B key, because it feels *really* unnatural to me, the turning motion of the wrist, so I don't see how I can use it in a scale playing at a decent speed.
Don't let the "unnatural" feeling stop you from learning it, there are a few keys/fingerings on the sax that feel strange at first, you just have to get used to them through practice. Once you do and they become second nature they can help a lot. The bis Bb is beautifully easy for playing arpeggios like an Eb arpeggio (Eb-G-Bb-Eb). Bis makes the most sense in this case and you can play this arpeggio much quicker and cleaner with it. In other situations the side Bb suites better or the B+F fork fingering (which I'll admit I never use, I can get around passages with either of the other two or a combo of them).
 

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Don't let the "unnatural" feeling stop you from learning it, there are a few keys/fingerings on the sax that feel strange at first, you just have to get used to them through practice. Once you do and they become second nature they can help a lot. The bis Bb is beautifully easy for playing arpeggios like an Eb arpeggio (Eb-G-Bb-Eb). Bis makes the most sense in this case and you can play this arpeggio much quicker and cleaner with it. In other situations the side Bb suites better or the B+F fork fingering (which I'll admit I never use, I can get around passages with either of the other two or a combo of them).
You should use any of the three, depending on the situation. (Or four, considering the B-F# fingering; but that one may not work on some instruments.)

Practice your scales and chords with all three fingerings, even when it is awkward. Sooner or later you will be glad you practiced that awkward sliding-lifting-rolling move when it's the only way to cover a particular pattern.

This is just part of learning the horn. For that matter, there's also overblowing the low Bb.
 

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Using the bis key touch is no more "odd" than using the octave key touch, once you get used to doing it. It's the easiest, most natural way to finger a Bb on the horn, IMO.
 

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I like Bis key and use it exclusively.
Bb - B natural trills must be difficult.

But seriously, while I use bis most of the time because one of my early teachers drilled it into me (and I'm glad he did), it just doesn't work everywhere.

That Take 5 example doesn't ring a bell, but I'd do fork for every Bb in that phrase.
 

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This topic has been kicked around for years. If you ask six different players you will often get six different answers. My suggestion is to get The Art of Saxophone Playing by Larry Teal and read the chapter on Technique in which he goes into detail about the use of alternate fingerings. The most "logical" choice of which Bb fingering to use depends upon the note(s) that precede and/or follow in the music. This was all figured out years ago, but it seems many of us are still trying to "reinvent the wheel" when it comes to Bb fingerings.
 

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You'll find all of them useful depending on the situation, but for me the most useful fingering by far, is the bis fingering (that little key you mention). Don't ignore it. In any case it's essential to practice and learn all those fingerings for Bb. As turf pointed out, it's just part of learning to play the horn--the basics.

Here's an excellent tutorial for the bis key. Watch it and learn:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C87hqa5AoB8
 

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I use the bis unless I'm playing a B right after....1/4 is great for a Bb-B grace note, 1/2 side is a chromatic fingering, works really well for chromatic runs....learn all three, they will all serve you well....
 

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I do come across exceptions to this and situations when I need to experiment, but my "big picture" approach is to ask which of these describes my situation:

1. Am I in a flat key (F, Bb, Eb, etc.) with no accidental B naturals or no reason to play that note?
2. Am I in a non-flat key (C or with sharps)?
3. Am I in a flat key with a lot of B naturals or wanting to play that note in improv?

If it's Case #1, I'm going to use bis (small key under left index finger) almost all the time. I'm saying to myself that I'm in "flat mode" and by default everything is a Bb. In the other two cases I don't use it much. This mentality probably comes from playing flute before sax because on flute there is a Thumb Bb that most players use for Case #1. My use of right index finger when some sax players use the side key is also due to my flute habits.
 

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You'll find all of them useful depending on the situation, but for me the most useful fingering by far, is the bis fingering (that little key you mention). Don't ignore it. In any case it's essential to practice and learn all those fingerings for Bb. As turf pointed out, it's just part of learning to play the horn--the basics.

Here's an excellent tutorial for the bis key. Watch it and learn:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C87hqa5AoB8

thx; good video; i never use bis but need to learn; helpful video
 

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Learn them all. Use them all. They only feel awkward because you tell yourself that they are awkward.
Your fingers and brain are lazy. Work them until you don't have to think about which one you should use.
 

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I have always found that the side A# is the fullest sounding one, followed by B+bis and B+F in order of decreasing strength. Might just be me?
Although the response does vary from horn to horn, I agree with your general observation. Intonation also differs. The side key and the bis are roughly the same (very good), whereas 1+4 is slightly flat. 1+5 is more in-tune -- almost as good as the two main fingerings.

In actual playing, I primarily use the side key (~50% of the time) and the bis (~30%) fingerings. I use the other two "fork" fingerings less than 20% of the time, almost exclusively when playing arpeggios.
I agree with this as well. I formerly had greater use for 1+4, coming as I did from clarinet, but its poorer intonation led me to substitute the bis more and more when the side key wasn't optimal. The bis is also better when leaping to or from the palm keys, even though Rubank tends to recommend 1+4 for this application.

I'll add that 1+4 and especially 1+5 are good for certain trills and grace notes.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you all for your answers, I got a lot to think about before practicing today.

Expecially in this video
when he said
think about [the B/bis key] as a split key
it was a flaming epiphany. Seriously. I'm a different man now. Man.

Anyway, today, using the bis key as the only alternative, my scales where actually better than usual, and given that it's basically my first day using it, I'm pumped up :D

Thank you all again!
 

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FWIW I use bis Bb 99% of the time.
Yeah, that's pretty much the % for me too. Maybe closer to 95% because I do use the side key in some cases and the 1+1 for a trill.

I know a lot of players will say don't use the bis key moving between Bb & B, but I do that all the time with no problem.
 
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