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Hi all,
I'm wondering if any of you could tell me more about Jackie McLean's incredible "squeals", for instance here at 2:12 & 2:20 & 6:06
How does he achieve this sound? He seems to hit a concert Bb and F beyond the alto range. Is it to do with the embouchure?
I don't play sax but I'd still love to know what's going on! Thanks :)
 

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When you say "alto range" you're actually referring to keyed range of the alto saxophone. There are whole additional octaves available above the keyed range of the alto saxophone known as the altissimo register. That register is accessed by changes in airstream, etc. - it's considered an advanced technique and mastery takes years and years.

Jackie wasn't exactly an altissimo master, IMO, and used it more for effect - as here - than a demonstration of technical virtuosity. The clips you point out have the additional quality of feeling like he may be "biting" the reed to achieve that additional "yelp" you're hearing - very effective in Jackie's hard-bop/blues world.
 

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you can do it in many way, a real one ( which is using the altissimo range to the extremes) you can also fake it by touching the reed with your teeth and get some uncontrolled squeaks
 

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I am pretty certain Jackie is producing these examples by putting his teeth on the reed, not through the standard altissimo technique.
Exactly. Teeth on the reed. You can hear Lenny Pickett do the same thing every Saturday night on SNL.

I disagree with Milandro. I don't think it's possible to play this high without using the teeth. You can only get so high with standard altissimo technique.

Since you're not a sax player, this probably makes no sense. The way sax is normally played, the bottom lip is wrapped over the bottom teeth and that's what contacts the reed. For these super high squeak effects, the bottom lip is pulled back and the teeth go directly on the reed. For notes that go pretty high but not this high, lip stays on the reed and upper overtones are played with a different technique involving the shape of the throat/mouth/tongue, a bit like how harmonics on a guitar are played (using fingers instead of lips and air of course), dampening the lower harmonics and bringing out the higher ones.
 

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I don't know if this person uses his teeth he appears to go one octave higher by using overtones of an already very high D

 
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I don't know if this person uses his teeth he appears to go one octave higher by using overtones of an already very high D

I just did exactly the same thing on my alto. It's not that difficult. Altissimo D using overtones, octave above that with teeth or biting on the vamp with lips over teeth (much less stable than teeth on reed). In any case, to go that high, you've got to deform the reed in some way to suppress the lower overtones.

No need to kill yourself or bite through your lip when teeth work fine.
 

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I respectfully disagree that has to be made using the teeth on the reed. Depending on the reed and mouthpiece, some can allow you to go with that notes as an harmonic of an upper altissimo range. I have never ever used my teeth directly on the reed and have not pulled out my lip. I like an use altissimo very much and my range with a solid note is C5, which I play not that often. Minimum I play up to G4 or A4 and many players do that. This done by voicing, never biting.

With a pretty much broken in reed that harmonic after the upper altissimo is perfectly possible. Plasticovers allowed me to do that, but I am now with Java Green or Red reeds because I have concerns about the safety of the covering on Plasticovers.

I absolutely respect everybody's technique and ways to find its sound.
 

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I respectfully disagree that has to be made using the teeth on the reed. Depending on the reed and mouthpiece, some can allow you to go with that notes as an harmonic of an upper altissimo range. I have never ever used my teeth directly on the reed and have not pulled out my lip. I like an use altissimo very much and my range with a solid note is C5, which I play not that often. Minimum I play up to G4 or A4 and many players do that. This done by voicing, never biting.
Keep in mind, we're only talking about ridiculuosly high notes here, well above the "normal" altissimo range. I don't know the octave numbers, but I'll call the last non-altissimo note "palm D" and an octave above that "altissimo D". Are you saying you can hit an octave above altissimo D (the chart below calls it D8) and higher with normal altissimo technique? That's 2 octaves above palm D, essentially a controlled squeak. If you can, please try to describe your technique.


For the record I never put my teeth on the reed either because I've never had the desire to play above the normal altissimo range (somewhere around altissimo D). Squeaks like this don't do anything for me and probably don't do anything for the audience either.
 

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Keep in mind, we're only talking about ridiculuosly high notes here, well above the "normal" altissimo range. I don't know the octave numbers, but I'll call the last non-altissimo note "palm D" and an octave above that "altissimo D". Are you saying you can hit an octave above altissimo D (the chart below calls it D8) and higher with normal altissimo technique? That's 2 octaves above palm D, essentially a controlled squeak. If you can, please try to describe your technique.


For the record I never put my teeth on the reed either because I've never had the desire to play above the normal altissimo range (somewhere around altissimo D). Squeaks like this don't do anything for me and probably don't do anything for the audience either.
Ok, good to clarify. I have reached only once in may life that D you are referring to. Palm D for me would be D3, being altissimo D, D4. Hitting D5 is, as you say, pretty much out of the limits. Earl Bostic reached some incredible high notes in Up There in Orbit. Some classical players reach those notes with closed mouthpieces. About not classical players I have seen and heard Brandon Fields almost there and as I may say, no teeth on reed. Now..... some reeds like Plasticovers did allow me to have some harmonics beyond that, that honestly I have not analyzed with the tuner, but it is absolutely possible.

But, C5 is in my reach as it is in many altissimo specialized alto players. D5, the note you mention, no, it is not something I would rely to play on stage. Now, is it ok to do that? Well, my skills have payed for that hours of study and practice. I have not the speed I would like and do not have all the vocabulary I would love to have. When a solo comes to me, I do not rely in that complex phrases, but the best tuning I can have (been a freak for that all y life) and the altissimo notes, plus some other effects that have given me a chance to go ahead playing professionally my horn.

Now, tenor players and baritone players can do that and to that notes more often. The larger the horn the larger the range. D5 in tenors is played by more than one with no teeth on the reed, which does not mean somebody might do it with its teeth.

I like box, so I would say I rely a lot better on my punching power than my "boxing" skills, if you know what I mean.

Kindest Regards,

JI
 

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I don't know if this person uses his teeth he appears to go one octave higher by using overtones of an already very high D

I don't know if this person uses his teeth he appears to go one octave higher by using overtones of an already very high D

I don't know if this person uses his teeth he appears to go one octave higher by using overtones of an already very high D

My take is that he has a reed that is doing what I described. The next harmonic of a very high altissimo with no teeth on reed. My opinion.
 

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My take is that he has a reed that is doing what I described. The next harmonic of a very high altissimo with no teeth on reed. My opinion.
As I said before. I just tried this on alto and can do it with or without teeth. But with teeth is much more stable, controlled and easier. I can't think of any good reason for any player to not do these squeak effects with teeth.

I guess I'm just trying to get others besides myself to prove it can be done without teeth. That means no videos, just you and Milandro saying you played it yourselves without teeth (or anyone else saying they've actually played it without teeth). I did my part by playing it with and without teeth. When I play with teeth, there is no way you'd be able to tell by looking. My lip still appears to be rolled in.
 

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re: teeth on reed....always killed the reed for me, fwiw.
Can you describe your technique in more detail? I don't see how it could possibly have any impact on reed life since the bite pressure is extremely low, possibly even lower than normal playing. How often do you play with your teeth on the reed? How does the audience respond? The one and only time I've ever done it in my 40 years of playing was for 5 seconds to answer the question in this thread. The reed suffered no ill effects.
 
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