Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
64 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, so I play the tenor sax.

The 3 most talked about things in this subforum group is altissimo, overtones, and multiphonics.

I get what altissimo notes are, but...

WHAT THE HECK ARE OVERTONES??????

and...

WHAT THE HECK ARE MULTIPHONICS?????

would someone please tell me the long, elaborate definition of what they are so i can work on them if i need to, and understand what you guys are talking about.

Thanks!!!:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Overtones are quite simply other notes available in a given fingering that result from the natural harmonics developed by vibrating a reed over a variable length and expanding tube (essentially what a sax is). A physics or engineering expert may explain this better, but this is how you get altissimo notes. I am assuming that multiphonics are the collection of notes that one can develop. I can understand the importance of learning these techniques from a technical stand point, and I think to be a truly accomplished professional, one should be able to access these skills. I am a little lost, confused and suspicious of all the importance placed on these skills in this forum group. I may be old, amateur or way behind the times, but I think that to be a great sax player does not necessarily equal being able to play high G on a tenor or alto. I listen to old jazz masters all the time, and their skills resided mainly in superb tone, expression and chord structure. I don't think any of the recordings I have involve altissimo of any sort. Maybe I'm all wet here, but I think young or amateur players should be more concerned with tone and expression through the normal range before worrying about the extended range of the instrument.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
64 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
57mkvi, you have wisdom in your words.
I agree with you about the subtones. I am a young player, and that is one of the areas i work with the most. The altissimo does, however, have some sort of mistique about it for people like me, that you have taken an instrument you can play about 2 and 1/2 octaves with, and expand it to over 3. That is an achievement in my eyes.
However, sounding like brass heaven is also a pretty wicked awsome achievement in itself!!!! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
297 Posts
I tend to agree with you, 57mkvi. I've been playing for 25 years or so and feel I still have my work cut out for me in so many other areas. I doubt I'll live long enough to have much time to spend on multiphonics and overtones. I think such things are fascinating and honestly enjoy reading about some of the science behind them (Thanks, hakukani!). But can't say I stay awake nights worrying about how my overtones are coming along.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
646 Posts
My teacher emphasizes overtones and encourages my halting efforts towards altissimo. However, the impression I have (guess I should ask him explicitly about this!) is that, at my level anyway, the overtones and altissimo are not necessarily an end in themselves; rather it's about control. The more control you have over the sound you produce, the better that sound will be. In that sense, for a bumbling amateur like myself, they fall in the same category as long tones.

Not sure anyone has really answered the OP re multiphonics - I may have this wrong, but I think this term is referring to playing more than one note simultaneously. When you're doing overtones it's not actually particularly difficult to achieve this, although doing it in a controlled and predictable way is another matter altogether.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
26,254 Posts
Truthfully, practicing overtones is doing WONDERS for my tenor sound. Of course, my dogs hate it...

I first learned altissimo just to **** off the trumpet Maynard wannabees in my high school jazz band. Now I only use them when I just HAVE to have a high note to finish a line--oh, and to do that Junior Walker thang for rock and roll.

I do multiphonics to **** off the guitar player Hendrix wannabees by doing the 'feedback' thang with my horn.

BTW, the easiest multiphonic to get is to finger low C and lift rh pointer finger-xxx|oxx (low C).
It's one of the more obnoxious ones, though.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member.
Joined
·
1,526 Posts
Pharoah Sanders is a player whose sound, including (multiphonics/overtones/subtones) are a joy to listen to for me, past his masterful control of such (techniques), he always seems to use things in a very honest and straight ahead manner and I love to hear the man play... BTW, The non-profit Rex Foundation ( AKA The Grateful Dead ) gave their $40,000 Ralph Gleason Award Grant to Pharoah one year...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
64 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Truthfully, practicing overtones is doing WONDERS for my tenor sound. Of course, my dogs hate it...

I first learned altissimo just to **** off the trumpet Maynard wannabees in my high school jazz band. Now I only use them when I just HAVE to have a high note to finish a line--oh, and to do that Junior Walker thang for rock and roll.

I do multiphonics to **** off the guitar player Hendrix wannabees by doing the 'feedback' thang with my horn.

BTW, the easiest multiphonic to get is to finger low C and lift rh pointer finger-xxx|oxx (low C).
It's one of the more obnoxious ones, though.
Nice!
I'm going to try that!
...
tommorow.
btw, nice attitude.
It really is fun to mess with trumpet players. :)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member.
Joined
·
1,526 Posts
Try the oxx/xxx +Eb pinky w/ no octane key, lip up to play the Eb2 and you get a nice chord that sings a Bb...
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member.
Joined
·
1,526 Posts
Here's Shelley using that false Eb fingering in the intro... Sounds like he's poppin' into it from his low Bb... Shelley 'is' "the Sax Controller'...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,328 Posts
If I remember correctly, the full overtone series is available for a given "fundamental" tone on the saxophone. The fundamentals would be from low Bb to open C#, chromatically. Everything above that is actually an overtone using the octave key as a vent. Well, middle D, D# etc. using only the L.H. palm keys would be fundamentals too.

Overtone series is based upon a mathematical property where you divide the frequency by two to yield one octave higher, the next overtone is the 5th above that, then the next octave, then the third, then 5th, then 7th, etc.. for example, the overtone series going up above low C would be C1, C2, G, C3, E, G, Bb, C4...once you get to a certain point, the overtones are so close together you can play about any note with any fingering if you can hear it. That's an oversimplification, as there are many altissimo fingering charts with preferred fingerings to facilitate playing notes with a more focused and in-tune sound, etc.

Ultimately, learning about the overtone series and how to utilize it will improve sound, intonation, and open up opportunities for more expressive playing (such as alternate fingerings using the overtone notes...). Students are commonly taught to match the "feel" of the overtone notes with the "standard" fingerings to help train the throat and embouchure

Multiphonics (the classic definition) would be playing where multiple pitches are sounded. There are also "split" tones, which to me is a variant of multiphonic. Brecker used the split tone effects a lot. I think middle G is a note that is good to experiment with, and I know A can be split too.

These are "advanced" techniques generally familiar to advanced players of legitimate or jazz music. I put advanced in quotes, becuase I think it's generally expected of modern players to play above the "normal" range of the saxophone. A great exercise in multiphonics is Michael Brecker's Delta City Blues introduction. Coltrane used some multiphonics in I'll Wait and Pray, and Bird plays a high F# by overblowing side D in his solo on Ko Ko or Warming Up a Riff (I don't think high F# keys were common until much later on).

All these things are just techniques, it's most important to play musically. It's all about quality sound. Sure, Lenny Pickett can play notes that only dogs can hear, but he does it so well with a great sound!

+1
Maybe I'm all wet here, but I think young or amateur players should be more concerned with tone and expression through the normal range before worrying about the extended range of the instrument.
Great point. A lot of the greats like Ammons, Dexter, Henderson, Turrentine used the extended range of the horn, but it's the sound, soul, and impassioned delivery that makes their playing special. You know they spent a lot of time on the basics to sound so great.
 

·
Moderator
Grafton + TH & C alto || Naked Lady 10M || TT soprano || Martin Comm III
Joined
·
30,102 Posts
would someone please tell me the long, elaborate definition of what they are so i can work on them if i need to, and understand what you guys are talking about.
Short unelaborate descriptions (with examples):

http://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-harmonics-overtones.html

http://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-multiphonics.html

Overtones are the same as harmonics:
Not quite the same (says Mr Pedantic). The first overtone is the second harmonic.
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top