Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 34 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

I have been playing sax on and off for a few years and so far have not been able to produce any altissimo, although I have been able to get a few harmonics. My main instrument is flute but I have a couple of sax students (I clearly state it is not my main instrument and plan to 'pass them on' when they get to a certain level) so as they progress and ask me more questions, I need to get some answers.

Firstly, how often is altissimo used in general playing - classical and jazz, solo and ensemble? And at what level would you consider it neccessary to learn? Is it even neccessary?

Also, I know on flute, once in the screeching register, I have not memorised many of the fingerings as they are so rarely used. I would usually just write the fingering on the music if there was a super high note to remind me. Do you all know the altissimo fingerings as well as you do the normal register notes?

Thank you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
144 Posts
In general, I think the altissimo range is something for soloists who find it useful. But i've never seen a piece of music (aside from maybe a few Dave Douglas charts) that directly call for any notes in the altissimo range. The fingerings for altissimo vary between kinds of horns, and even individual horns of the same model. But there are some fingerings that generally work from what I've seen and heard.

Therefore, I think it's not necessary for a player to learn to play in his altissimo range unless they really want to and feel the need to , I feel like it's really a matter of personal taste. Some players make use of it alot, some very seldomly, and some never. It's something that has to developed over time and it takes alot of control and strength. I've extended my range to the C above the normal range, but I don't have enough fluidity to use it in runs. Some players (specifically guys like Chris Potter) I've heard play intricate patterns and lines in the register and it's mind blowing.

I'm studying at Berklee, and I know it is required that performance majors demonstrate their ability to use this range, along with other techniques such as multiphonics...but other than that, I've never heard of it being "required" or "necessary"
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,225 Posts
Not that I'm anybody but playing in my band requires is a lot of the time. Especially if you're a tenor player. I just assume a player can play up there.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2011
Joined
·
1,612 Posts
According to Jay Easton's website, limited altissimo might be required of "Grade 5-Advanced" which he defines as follows:

Grade 5- Advanced: Appropriate for strong high school and most college players, requires a more developed sense of musicality. Often uses full traditional range of the instrument, possibly with limited altissimo.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,488 Posts
It's useful and eventually you need to be able to play altissimo. More important then how high you can get is how much control you have. It's better to play an A3 under control then a D4 that is just a tasteless squeal.

When you do learn some altissimo notes incorporate them into practicing them as part of full range scales. I can't say how important it is to practice everything full range. If you do practice scales and patterns full range then your licks will be tastier and you will sound much much better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone. It's good to know it's not something I need to desperately practise. I'm sure it will come in time and will definitely aim for notes in control rather than squeals.

Little Sax, thanks for that link, it's a great resource. I'll start building my library more with the rep lists
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
122 Posts
I don't bother with it. If I need notes higher than my tenor, I'll get out the alto. I think all instruments sound best in their mid-range.
 

·
Forum Contributor 2008/Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,295 Posts
Personally, I find it indispensable. Especially when studying chord tone approaches using the appropriate 9, 11, & 13 extensions and in a ii-V-I(i) it's most helpful. I connect to the tonality better and it helps me with a stronger sense of intonation.

In Rock and more modern jazz styles it is used quite often. My understanding is that it is used in more modern "legit" music as well.

It isn't mandatory, but, I think it's development in a productive manner will greatly expand anyone's opportunities and even their expressive abilities.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
4,881 Posts
Seems to be more common in rock than in bebop and traditional jazz. But being musical is more important than theatrics.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician
Joined
·
26,737 Posts
I've always likened altissimo to slam dunking in basketball. Not every player will be able to do it, but you can still be great without it. For its use in classical, get a hold of a Rascher recording. He plays it so seemlessly on alto, you'd swear at certain points he'd switched to a soprano without you even knowing it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
291 Posts
NitroJoe said:
I don't bother with it. If I need notes higher than my tenor, I'll get out the alto. I think all instruments sound best in their mid-range.
In the middle of a passage? I think altissimo is a spice to the main dish. Many dished don't need it, and too much or in the wrong dish isn't an improvement. But many dishes are made better by it.

Almost every piece that has moved me deeply contained some altissimo.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,302 Posts
I work on extended-register playing with students of mine as young as 9th grade, as long as everything else is solid. I treat it not as a separate register, but as a natural part of the instrument, adding just a note at a time and integrating it into scales, arpeggios, etc. Certainly the substantive classical repertoire of the past 70 years (Ibert, Glazounov, Creston--right up through Denisov, Lauba, etc.) demands complete control of the altissimo, and its use in jazz is rather widespread.

High Tones for Saxophone-Eugene Rousseau
Voicing-Sinta/Dabney
Top Tones for Saxophone-Sigurd Rascher
 

·
Forum Contributor 2008/Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,295 Posts
Very few players in the NBA today cannot slam dunk the basketball. It's not required and it is probably one of the least important abilities to the game, however, it just is. You have to be considered rather extraordinary to get by without the ability to elevate that high.

Again, there are many exceptions. But, it is not the rule from my understanding in todays game.

In fact, the joke is: "Who's Chuck Taylor?" Answer: "The first white guy who could dunk it."

Yes, it is not prevalent and rarely existent in jazz previous to Coltrane. But, look at the players today. Even Bergonzi talks about how he feels he falls short in this today.
 

·
Prodigal Son and Forum Contributor 2008
Joined
·
10,792 Posts
Swampcabbage said:
In fact, the joke is: "Who's Chuck Taylor?" Answer: "The first white guy who could dunk it."
Here's a picture of me, Chuck Taylor, and Al Tissimo:


Q:How often is altissimo used?

A:Generally the second chorus of the solo.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician
Joined
·
26,737 Posts
Swampcabbage said:
Very few players in the NBA today cannot slam dunk the basketball. It's not required and it is probably one of the least important abilities to the game, however, it just is. You have to be considered rather extraordinary to get by without the ability to elevate that high.
Again, why it makes a great analogy if you likened the NBA with the star sax players. I was speaking of the game in general, not just NBA specific. Also, many can do it, but don't; or at least not often. Then of course some sure can dunk, but have weaker fundamentals. A perfect analogy... if I must say so myself (and I might be doing just that).
 

·
Forum Contributor 2008/Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,295 Posts
Grumps said:
Again, why it makes a great analogy if you likened the NBA with the star sax players. I was speaking of the game in general, not just NBA specific. Also, many can do it, but don't; or at least not often. Then of course some sure can dunk, but have weaker fundamentals. A perfect analogy... if I must say so myself (and I might be doing just that).
I would have to agree. Is this a first?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,147 Posts
Grumps said:
... get a hold of a Rascher recording. He plays it so seemlessly on alto, you'd swear at certain points he'd switched to a soprano without you even knowing it.

Which also shows that you do not need a high baffle, or even a jazz mouthpeice to play altissimo.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
730 Posts
I have more controlled altissimo on my classical pieces than jazz pieces. On alto I'm solid up to D4 on my Optimum but much above A3 on my Meyer and it gets.. less pleasant. But that's just me. After I got more comfortable with my altissimo range and used better technique to actually achieve it I've not noticed THAT much of a difference from high baffle to no baffle pieces with regard to altissimo.

I think that it tends to sound more "connected" to the normal fingered range of the horn with low baffle pieces, which is maybe why I'm more comfortable with it on classical style mouthpieces. Maybe I'm wrong and I just suck :cool:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
93 Posts
Altissimo,crossfingering has steadily been developing for the saxophone.i can remember in th late 50s it hardly ever being heard,to any extent.i am glad to see it becoming a part of todays studies,although its not yet written for in many pieces,also not all saxophones are even near equal when it comes to being able to play altissimo,that i will leave alone.
 
1 - 20 of 34 Posts
Top