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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
some players say "I'm an E flat man" and they basically develop perfect pitch in Eflat but can't play an instrument in any other key without making their brain revolt.

others work on intervals only. for example, I know that i want to go up 1/2 step then a full step.

in my case, might not know what key i'm playing in but can find the note I want based on the interval from the last note I played.

what is the best approach? I mean I can see both advantages. My bands first alto/bari player can hear a note, pick up his sax and play that note, but he won't touch a tenor.

It's too late for me, since i play many instruments.

some piano players have perfect pitch in C. that is awesome if you get it.
 

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Pitch is pitch.
The relationship between pitch and the instrument in your hands and it's required manual of arms can be an issue at first.
I want Amin but I have to finger Dmin said the alto flute.
Then make your instrument behave to the pitches in your music/mind.

Can perfect pitch be described as always in tune?
Ya gotta play a lot.
 

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Yeah, you usually see sax players doing alto and bari or tenor and soprano, but I've always been more of an alto/tenor guy... soprano and bari too. Never thought too much about it because notes are relative given I'm more of an ear player. I remember one time when I was sitting in with a soloist singer/guitarist. He seemed to think the saxophone was like a harmonica, and could only play in a given key. He asked me "what key do you play in?" My answer was somewhat simple. "All of them..."
 

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some players say "I'm an E flat man" and they basically develop perfect pitch in Eflat but can't play an instrument in any other key without making their brain revolt..
First of all, you can't 'develop perfect pitch.' You either have it of you don't. What you can, and should, develop is relative pitch. Which I think is what you're talking about in terms of recognizing intervals. Even those with perfect pitch need to be able to hear/recognize intervals. Given that, and the fact that you need to play in all 12 keys, it shouldn't matter whether you play a Bb or Eb instrument. Once you know the key you are in, you simply play in that key.

For example, if you're playing in say, A concert, on tenor you'll play in B and on alto you'll play in F#. Since you can play in all 12 keys, it will be no problem either way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
A guitar player will always think in intervals. He'll play a little riff in A, then singer says, can we drop it down 1 key? Then the guitarist would just play same riff but lower (higher) on the neck by one step in G. No transposing necessary most of the time. If he was playing the riff by the guitar head, then he would probably need to move it over to thicker strings and up a bit and change it slightly. But not if he was originally playing in middle of the neck.

On the other hand, if you only play in B flat and no other transposing instrument, it would be awsome to really know what note you are moving to with less risk of an error because you can hear it.
 

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A guitar player will always think in intervals.

On the other hand, if you only play in B flat it would awsome to really know what note you are moving to with less risk of an error.
Sax players need to be thinking in intervals also, as I pointed out in my last post.

If you can only play in Bb, you need to learn the other 11 keys!!! Or do you mean only play a Bb instrument? If so, that doesn't mean you only play in Bb...

If you are moving down a full step from Bb, you simple move to Ab. Or from B to A, or C to Bb, etc. Moving up a minor 3rd from Bb, you move up to Db, and so on. I don't see the problem there on a sax or any instrument. You simply have to learn those intervals and also learn what they sound like. There is no 'risk of an error' unless you haven't learned them.

It is true that on sax (unlike guitar), you can't simply use the same fingering patterns in different keys, but if you repeat a pattern in a different key, it's still the same pattern note-wise, even though you have to finger different notes. With practice you can move a riff or lick around through all 12 keys. It's a good type of exercise to practice.

p.s. As Grumps pointed out, the sax is not automatically in any specific key; it can be played in all keys. I think you are confused about what a transposing instrument is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Perhaps the guy I'm talking about always had perfect pitch to start with and after choosing alto, he now can't stand to play an instrument unless it tranposing in E flat like a bari.

I'm not that way. I was just wondering if my band mate is significantly unique or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
He has no problem transposing. In fact he can normally just play the random clarinet part that shows up on his music by transposing in his head, but if he is fingering a sax G, he expects it to sound as it does on an alto.
 

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...if he is fingering a sax G, he expects it to sound as it does on an alto.

I was just wondering if my band mate is significantly unique or not.
If he has perfect pitch, yes he is significantly unique. Perfect pitch is not all that common. And while it can be very useful in some ways, I've heard that it can be a drawback in other ways. This may be one example of a drawback.
 

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I love playing them all, regardless of pitch, though I'm a stronger player on the Eb saxes.
 

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I'm not convinced the distinction between perfect pitch and relative is as clear and binary as supposed. I teach music in a secondary school and can usually tell precise pitches at work or on a gig but catch me in the street or on a day off and I will often be wrong.

Some transpositions throw me. I always leave my EWI set to Bb pitch. I grew up playing trombone and euphonium learning them as transposed Bb instruments (UK brass band) at the same time also having to learn to read concert band or orchestral music in concert pitch. I can also reckon to cope with Bb or Eb tubas and (more recently) bari and tenor saxes. Yet on the other hand, I can't stand the transpose feature on a digital piano and prefer to transpose. I also bought a C valve trombone once which really confused me. With the time I allowed, I couldn't persuade my lips to produce the note my fingers were playing. I had a similar struggle when I once filled in on the obselete G bass trombone. Not the most rewarding experience.

I find it an interesting subject but wonder if we haven't all basically got our quirks in terms of pitch which are based on our experience as musicians. The answer to Bb, Eb and concert is probably, how much do I want or need to. How much time/effort is it going to take? I enjoy reading everyone else's thoughts.
 

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I don't know how true that whole thing is. Most of the big band era guys played multiple saxes as well as flute and/or clarinet. All the private teachers I've taken lessons from at one time played most of the woodwinds as well. And I'd be willing to bet if you put a poll up here you'd find the most common double is alto/tenor. The "I'm and Eb guy or I'm a Bb guy" makes more sense in jazz combo or bebop type settings and other instances where much of the music (heads and changes) would be memorized. Under that circumstance the sound combined with the muscle memory would be more of a challenge to get around if you wanted to play the same tune on alto and tenor as opposed to soprano and tenor. A lot of horn section parts in the funk and horn bands I've played in are divided alto/tenor and tenor/bari and the pit guys all play in all sorts of keys.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Some transpositions throw me. I always leave my EWI set to Bb pitch. I grew up playing trombone and euphonium learning them as transposed Bb instruments (UK brass band) at the same time also having to learn to read concert band or orchestral music in concert pitch. I can also reckon to cope with Bb or Eb tubas and (more recently) bari and tenor saxes. Yet on the other hand, I can't stand the transpose feature on a digital piano and prefer to transpose. I also bought a C valve trombone once which really confused me. With the time I allowed, I couldn't persuade my lips to produce the note my fingers were playing. I had a similar struggle when I once filled in on the obselete G bass trombone. Not the most rewarding experience.
I would say you have a similar talent to my friend. Your career forced you to branch out to other transposing instruments. As an engineer by profession he made the choice to just stick with Eflat for his music hobby and now he won't play a tenor. It's cool. 99.9 percent of musicians don't have an issue with swapping between different keyed instruments. Personally I like to transpose the keyboard rather than transpose the old fashioned way.

My thought in starting this post is that if you choose just one instrument then perhaps you can gain a great ear for that one thing where it is almost an extension of the body.

On the other hand, learning piano will give you a music theory foundation that is absolutely great for your understanding of music. For me, practicing a bass guitar will still help my mind hear intervals that are essential to playing ad lib sax solos. In other words, practicing any instrument will help with sax playing as far as feeling the notes you want. Of course it does nothing for tone, breath, sound, special fingerings etc. So I think the time spent on other instruments isn't wasted for improving sax, but naturally you will never improve to that difficult next level of sax proficiency by playing a guitar.
 

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I stick with tenor, not because it's a Bb instrument but because it has the tonal range and sound that resonates for me. Bottom line is do what you want.

Just an aside, I have to admit the title of this thread threw me a bit. I think it's important to be as accurate as possible with terms and meaning when writing or speaking in order to maximize communication. The title implies you are asking about sticking to one key, either Bb or Eb. And of course that's not what you meant to say at all. You were talking about sticking with a Bb or Eb instrument. Nothing to do with the KEY of Bb or Eb.
 

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I knew a guy in high school with perfect pitch. Couldn't read music to save his life, though people tried to teach him. Someone always had to play his part once or twice for him. It was like an impressive trick--and he sounded fabulous. It's as if those areas of the brain are completely separate and unrelated--and they may indeed be so. I suspect, though, that any of those old jazz greats who didn't read music only chose not to do so. This guy didn't become a great improviser or composer, and I kinda think that part of his brain that couldn't process the reading of music was probably the reason.
 
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