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I'm currently working on playing without using the octave key. Once you get used to it it actually seems to help intonation above A (where the octave key changes from body to neck). I find many horns go slightly sharp here and most people compensate.

I imagine this might be a good exercise for advanced players, but I wouldn't recommend it for beginners, the octave key is there to help get those notes. I find that by imagining the note I'm able to switch octaves, at least that's what I think I'm doing. Of course, I may be subconciously tightening the embouchure which many people would say is bad.

I just wondered if anyone else has tried this (on purpose that is, not just when your octave key is bust).
 

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Pete Thomas said:
I just wondered if anyone else has tried this (on purpose that is, not just when your octave key is bust).
I find it really good for getting my embouchure set like it's supposed to be. I don't play in public without the octave key, but playing without it is part of my regular practice routine.
 

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Pete Thomas said:
I find that by imagining the note I'm able to switch octaves, at least that's what I think I'm doing. Of course, I may be subconciously tightening the embouchure which many people would say is bad.

I just wondered if anyone else has tried this (on purpose that is, not just when your octave key is bust).
Yes, I highly recommend it. There are days when that's the "rule" that I set for myself for an entire hour or more - "no octave key". It's a natural, the first overtone. It will help set your voicing and should not require biting at all - it's all in the airstream. I love having the option of using those tones as a variation in the tonal palette. And, it helps when trying out a new horn to quickly isolate whether an "issue" is due to poor octave venting or having the mouthpiece in the wrong location on the cork.

Do it.

The contrary - playing the entire range of the horn with the octave key depressed - is much more difficult, but once mastered will enable you to play through any leaks (short of a pad falling out) that occur on a gig.

Both techniques are discussed in Dave Liebman's "Creating Your Personal Sound" (arggh, it's been so long... Is that the correct title? Sorry, Dave.)
 

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I've just started to practice the same thing on clarinet. It makes the quality of your embouchure very apparent.
When I was in High School I used to play everything without the octave key, which was more out of laziness in not wanting to spend the time getting my Left Thumb in sync with the rest of my fingers. I wouldn't recommend doing that, though.
 

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Rascher would be proud.

Has anyone tried using normal fingerings to play third octave and above tones on a regular basis?
 

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A year or two ago, my octave key busted (yes, yes...use a neck plug when your horn is in the case!) and I was doing a lot of playing at the time and didn't have a spare moment to bring it to my local tech. I simply rigged the key closed and played without it!

I haven't made it into an exercise persay, although I have practiced overtones and assorted activities when working towards altissimo, but I could see how it could be useful.

oh wait...haha, I just read this
"I just wondered if anyone else has tried this (on purpose that is, not just when your octave key is bust)."
 

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Yes to all the above. Another benefit: it can allow lower overtones to creep (to varying degrees, which can be controlled) into the higher notes: you can do octave multiphonics pretty easily that way, but more subtle effects are possible. It's the growl without the growling.

I agree it helps intonation in certain spots, esp. a2.
 

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The flip side to this -- someone brought it up the other day with reference to learning how to "break" high notes -- is to play in the lower register with the octave key depressed. This is not useful for performance, but it helps with the control of harmonics: how to let the lower ones creep into the higher notes and vice versa. As I say: this is a woodshed technique; it does not sound good, but it's interesting.
 

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Reedsplinter said:
The flip side to this -- someone brought it up the other day with reference to learning how to "break" high notes -- is to play in the lower register with the octave key depressed. This is not useful for performance, but it helps with the control of harmonics: how to let the lower ones creep into the higher notes and vice versa. As I say: this is a woodshed technique; it does not sound good, but it's interesting.
Yeah, that's a great excercise for helping students learn to quit biting.
 

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Reedsplinter said:
Another benefit: it can allow lower overtones to creep (to varying degrees, which can be controlled) into the higher notes: you can do octave multiphonics pretty easily that way, but more subtle effects are possible. It's the growl without the growling. .
Yes, I do it for this purpose sometimes. It's especially effective on the D just above the octave break. A nice effect for blues....
 

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I do it quite a bit and when aware of it, I stop and make sure I use the octave key. Guess it comes from playing the flute all those years. Good to know it's not really a bad thing. I was getting annoyed with myself.
Candy
 

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I do this at times both in practice and in real settings. Most of the time I think that the appropriate setting would be in a jazz/blues style. IMHO, playing the upper register without the 8va key gives a different "effect" per se. It seems to sound a bit "reedier(?)" due to the lower partial creeping into the higher notes, as mentioned by splinter
 

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Reedsplinter said:
The flip side to this -- someone brought it up the other day with reference to learning how to "break" high notes -- is to play in the lower register with the octave key depressed. This is not useful for performance, but it helps with the control of harmonics: how to let the lower ones creep into the higher notes and vice versa. As I say: this is a woodshed technique; it does not sound good, but it's interesting.
This is a technique that my teachers gets me to use to practice keeping an open throat. Virtually impossible to break the high note without a very open throat.
 

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Dr G said:
The contrary - playing the entire range of the horn with the octave key depressed - is much more difficult, but once mastered will enable you to play through any leaks (short of a pad falling out) that occur on a gig.

Both techniques are discussed in Dave Liebman's "Creating Your Personal Sound" (arggh, it's been so long... Is that the correct title? Sorry, Dave.)
:shock:

gotta try this. where is my sax?

And I do play the higher octave without the octave key when the passage goes so fast my slow thumb isn't fast enough to reach that key. But never tried it over a whole range. Let's shed some reed.
 

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I started practicing this method after I read the Rascher book about altissimo playing. He recommends rehearsing overtone production to improve the altissimo playing, but also to improve the general tone concept. Makes sense...
 

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This technique along with the reverse mentioned by Reedsplinter and a lot of overtone work have gotten me a lot closer to sounding the way I'd like to sound.

The concept of hearing the note before you play it has been very important for me.
 

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I just wondered if anyone else has tried this (on purpose that is said:
Oh yeah. I had a terrible time quickly playing F, Bb, D2 over and over until I skipped the octave key and "thought" D2. I find it's a good excercise, too.
 
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