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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, I've just become aware of a problem in my playing, which I'd not really noticed before. I've been working on some bebop transcriptions, and when slurring down across the octave break as in, say, E to A, the A hardly ever sounds cleanly. There seems to be a microsecond of a harmonic before the lower octave note sounds. Horn is Yam 62, changing mouthpiece makes no difference. I regard myself as a good intermediate player. The harmonic on the A seems to be a G or G#. The only thing which seems to help is really backing off the airstream on the drop. I'm guessing it's a player problem, rather than a horn problem. Anyone else have the same issue, and if so, how did you cure it?
Cheers!
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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It could be a leaky horn, you should not have to back off the airstream for that.

OTOH, if you are hearing a G, it could actually be that your fingering is out of sync L & R. They need to come off simultaneously, if the LH 3rd finger lingers for an instant, a upper register G will sound briefly.
 

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One of the harmonic "quirks" I have experienced on saxophone is that when playing leaps the notes are easier to play going up than down. I think it has to do with the fact that once the octave vent has "disrupted" the fundamental to go to the 1st overtone an octave higher which vibrates at double the frequency, going back to the fundamental frequency of a lower note which is a slower vibration of the reed and air column is major change all of a sudden.

My thinking is that it is like the faster vibrations have a momentum like a moving vehicle which is harder to stop quickly the faster it is going. My supposition may be entirely wrong on this, and I'm sure the resident acoustic experts will chime in to correct me if this is the case. :)

That said, you might try doing that note switch back and forth by playing E2 without the octave key to see if that helps. One of my teacher's had me mentally play the lower note of a large skip downward while I was still on the high note to prepare the air and voicing. Another cause could be a sluggish body octave mechanism. To check, remove the neck, finger high G with the octave key pressed, and move the rod that extends beyond the body to engage the ring of the neck octave. It should float freely in your hand without any drag or friction whatever in the movement.

In all probability, it will turn out to be exactly what Pete described which would be my first choice as well. I'm just throwing out some additional ideas and comments.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for constructive replies, guys. My feeling is that Pete is probably right, but interestingly, I don't seem to have the same issue on tenor or bari. A while back, the cork buffer on the back of the octave key disappeared. I think it was probably shaped so it fitted the curve of the body of the horn. The replacement that my tech fitted is just a flat disc that appears to let the pip open further and the key move more. Any chance that could be having an effect? Any suggestions for exercises to help the finger sync-ing?
Thanks again!
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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If it was that you'd expect a high A to sound rather than a G, but I thnk it's worth getting it checked.

You can get a friend to check that the 8ve keys are closing when they shouldbe applying light pressure to the closed key whle you play a note and see if that makes a difference to the note.

Play a top E and get him/her to gently press the upper 8ve key as well as any other closed keys Especially the bis Bb)

Then play the low A and do the same (including the lower 8ve key)
 

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Assuming your instrument is working correctly, the only other thing is simple timing. It will improve as you go. I have good days and bad days going over the break. If it ever works correctly - it's probably just operator error. Time will fix that.
 

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Can you play the passage with a legato tongueing? That's what I do and always thought that was acceptable as long as it doesn't take away from the musicality.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes, just a gentle tongue is all that is needed, but in very fast passages, it can seem to actually increase the possibility of a blip, by introducing another variable, if you see what I mean! I've got a gig tonight on alto, with a guy who also plays a 62. I'm going to ask to swap horns and just try each others, just for the purposes of comparison. That should tell me whether it's the horn or me!
Cheers!
 

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One of my teacher's had me mentally play the lower note of a large skip downward while I was still on the high note to prepare the air and voicing.
If you've eliminated any mechanical issues with the instrument, and worked on your finger timing, I would recommend working on what jbtsax mentioned above.

The way I have my students work on it is: play the lower note with a big, full tone and really FEEL your embouchure, tongue position, voicing (throat position) and how your air is working. Now play the upper note while trying to keep all of those physical elements set like they were when you were playing the lower note. Many of us have a tendency to change our "chops" (the general term I use for all of those elements) as we go into the upper register. If you keep your chops set for the lower register, the upper notes will still come out fine. But if you shift your chops, you have to shift them back to get the lower notes out.

Short version: Keep your "chops" set for the lower notes.
 

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I have that problem sometimes. To isolate the octave key from the equation, you could work on playing the upper octave parts without the octave key. Then, it's all you and voicing controlling it. Hard to do, though.
 

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bumping old thread, i have this exact problem on my YTS 23. Only Been playing 2 months, making real good progress. However, when ever I attempt descending intervals across the break, particularly G with octave key down to C, F to Bb, E to A, pitch goes way up, as if the octave key is still pressed, unless i seriously bsck off airstream or lightly tongue. I guess the body octave isn’t closing fast enough, and it could be my fingers, but Insuspect it’s not. Any advice?
 

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Do interval exercises. These involve changing notes as quickly as you can, but the duration of each note is long. This way the only thing you're concentrating on is making a smooth seamless transition from the first to the second note with minimum tone or finger bobbles and matching tone quality of each note.

I've written out a pattern before, you can search for it, which ensures that you will practice every interval less than an octave over the whole horn. Originally a flute exercise (this is how I can always hit a high E at any dynamic level), it works just as well for saxophone.
 
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