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Hi,

I have been experimenting and practicing with the very upper register of the saxophone (D3 to F#), and I feel that I would like to learn how to play Altissimo harmonic notes.

I have tried to get to Altissimo G and A, but it hasn't worked- and it just comes out as a honk.

Any tips/advice on how to get the notes to come out easily?

Saxophone is a Trevor James Classic Horn II, Mouthpiece is Selmer Soloist E.
 

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Any tips/advice on how to get the notes to come out easily? ....
Let’s start by saying it is not easy.
How long have you been playing? Did you try the mouthpiece exercises and do you have any control doing so?
Did you start the overtone series exercises? If you did, have you any control over them?
If the answers are positive, then you can try out altissimo. It’s rather pointless and contra productive if you just try some altissimo fingerings and you only get a honk.
It takes years to learn and control altissimo, especially in a live setting…
There are some interesting threads here on the subject. Dig into them and don’t give up.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Hi,

I have been experimenting and practicing with the very upper register of the saxophone (D3 to F#), and I feel that I would like to learn how to play Altissimo harmonic notes.

I have tried to get to Altissimo G and A, but it hasn't worked- and it just comes out as a honk.

Any tips/advice on how to get the notes to come out easily?

Saxophone is a Trevor James Classic Horn II, Mouthpiece is Selmer Soloist E.
I learned in a very bad way, by putting my teeth on the reed. It is easy then to get the altissimo. I knew it was bad, so I stopped but at least it had taught me know the note to listen for.

People talk about "voicing" and sometimes there can be something you do with your aural cavity, but it is such a tiny change it is almost impossible to describe or demonstrate. However as with my example above of forcing a "squeak" via biting, hearing (visualising) the pitch and sound of the note in advance can be a big part of voicing.

Using harder reeds, wider tips have been advised sometimes, and although they may help in the short term, it is often at the expense of dynamics and lower notes so I would advise (in addition to the voicing discussion above) that you work on a very solid airstream and an embouchure that doesn't involve too much mouthpiece placed in your mouth.
 

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Tongue position was the key for me....and hearing the note....start with A....play A E (using fork/2/3) then finger the high A (maybe 2/3/4/5/6) curling your tongue back....and has been stated, it won’t be easy, it will time time and patience....
 

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Basically, for the notes above F you need to develop the ability to play higher harmonics of fingered notes. To some extent you are already doing this when you play any second octave note, because the octave key only does so much, it's not an on-off switch. But the notes above F are more difficult to get out. First of all, they aren't just a lower fingering overblown an octave with the aid of the octave key, they are overblown an octave and a fifth, or two octaves, or two and a third, or other things, and furthermore due to the nature of the beast the octave-and-a-fifth may actually come out as an octave-and-a-flat-fifth, etc.

The starting point for the majority of us is to learn how to play the notes in the standard range with standard fingerings overblown an octave, an octave and a fifth, two octaves, etc., and then work them gradually higher and higher.

For example, let's take low Bb. Finger that, now play it up one octave. Now up an octave and a half (F). Now two octaves (Bb again). Now while sounding that two-octaves-up note, lift the low Bb key and finger the low B; what comes out of the horn should now be a B natural. Keep going up, and at some point the note will break up and disappear. If you keep practicing this, eventually you will be able, without unnatural strain, to play way on up into the altissimo from standard range fingerings.

You will also have to experiment with lifting various other keys to create vents to help certain notes speak. Once you get to this point, you would start with a chart of standard fingerings, but realize that it's often necessary to modify these slightly to get the best results on your individual horn. But starting out with fingerings is backwards. You need to start out with "voicing" whatever that means in the anatomical sense, teaching yourself how to play the various higher harmonics, and then you introduce specific fingerings.

Personally I would strongly recommend the book "top tones for the saxophone" by Rascher. It's not exactly a step by step guide, but it lays out a sequence of development similar to what I have imperfectly described above.

Developing this capability also will improve your ability to play cleanly and transition between notes in the standard range.
 

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I find that if I try to whistle the note first and keep my oral cavity the same, I can get the note. Also, overtone shedding.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I find that if I try to whistle the note first and keep my oral cavity the same, I can get the note. Also, overtone shedding.
Ye! I can see how that will work re: my comment about "voicing"
 

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Any tips/advice on how to get the notes to come out easily?
It's how you blow. You blow altissimo much differently than a normal note. So all the altissimo fingerings in the world won't help you until you learn how to blow differently. The quick and easy answer is first blow without the mouthpiece in your mouth as you would normally play. As you're doing this, raise the back of your tongue up towards the roof of your mouth to squeeze off the air flow a bit. It should make the air coming out more like a whistle if you do this right. Okay, got that? Next you need to learn how to blow an altissimo F# without using the high F# key. Use octave, front F, right hand 1 (F) plus side Bb. Raise your tongue and see if you get an F#3 this way. If you can, then simply let go of right hand 1 and see if that takes you up to G3. You want A after that? Then try octave, left hand 2 + 3 (A G), right hand 1 + 2 + 3 (F E D). Next step of course is making them sound good.
 

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As stated earlier tongue position and overtones are important. I would try working with siguard rashers top tones for saxophone. I believe this is the best book to learn the overtones that will help you to play altissimo.
 
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