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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all. I've been at the axe for about 8 months now. I'm just getting into altissimo. I have a cheap Vito (YAS-23) alto. I printed a bunch of fingering charts, and went through them to find what works for my sax, and now I can pretty reliably blow altissimo up to C.

However, I also have a very nice Yanagisawa tenor, and I'm having the hardest time with altissimo on it. It seems like almost every fingering just blows a C# (and a D with embouchure adjustment).

Anyone have any tips on this? Does your technique change much from alto to tenor altissimo? Anyone else have this problem?

I'll add that I have a Jody Jazz alto mouthpiece and a generic metal tenor mouthpiece (also a hard rubber), all #7. I use medium-soft (2.5) Fibracell reeds. If any of that matters.
 

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My advice would be to not even think of worrying about altissimo for at least another year or two.
 

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My girlfriend's dad is a pro, and he thinks I'm at about a 2-year level now (I practice 3-5 hours a day). It's primarily because I practice so much that I want to learn altissimo; it really breaks up the monotony of practicing. I don't need to know every altissimo note, but it would be very nice to know a few. If you really think I shouldn't do this now, any tips for making practice more fun would be appreciated!
 

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Fingerings on tenor and alto are not identical.

I would practice overtones on both, to get the voicing, then worry about fingerings.
 

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With more experience you will be adept on both alto and tenor, but it should not be a priority at your level. Be aware also that the fingering in the altissimo range is not necessarily the same for both sizes.
For practice I strongly recommend that you obtain Pete Thomas's book "Taming the Saxophone"....working assiduously through that I guarantee that boredom will not be an issue.
Best of luck....you are obviously working hard.
PS. Avoid practising the bits you are competent with....keep pushing the boundaries.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks a lot guys. I'll work on overtones. I tried to order the book, but I can't find it (there's a volume 3, but I can't find the first volume on the website). I'll give them a holler.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I just got "Top Tones". Some of the fingerings work for me, but some don't work at all; It's a pretty old book, and none of the fingerings use the front F# key (because it wasn't there when the book was written, I assume).

Nice videos, thanks! I'm not sure why those didn't come up in my search results, but I'm glad I've got 'em now!
 

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Fingerings on tenor and alto are not identical.
They are for me, but ultimately fingerings are relative as it's how you blow that matters most. Now I had a similar experience regarding alto vs. tenor altissimo. When I started to "get it", I took off much faster on alto than tenor; and though I had a complete range on alto, there were some holes on tenor. It really wasn't until I dumped my VII tenor and started playing tenors without the high F# key when things changed for the better. Then I had to use altissimo F#3 and soon thereafter, G3 and G#3 (the holes) soon followed. I really do believe that relying upon that high F# key for all those years stunted my altissimo development on tenor. My alto Signet didn't have such a key, and being able to blow an altissimo F#3 was a bridge to the more difficult notes just above it. As soon as I got used to using a tenor without the added key, my tenor altissimo caught up with my alto altissimo in no time.
 

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Understandable....all my altissimo is without even the front (aux) F; I learnt on a horn which was not so equipped & even now (with aux F), I never use it.
I would recommend to anyone learning altissimo the use of a Fibracell synthetic reed....it may not be the same for all, but I found it much easier.
The same fingering works for me on alto, C tenor & Bb tenor. Possibly the same would apply on soprano but, to use altissimo on soprano would, I imagine, contravene many European H & S issues.
 

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I maintain that you shouldn't consider learning about altissimo until the full normal range of the horn is beautiful, sweet and effortless (of course, I don't know what you sound like, but I doubt if anyone can achieve this in six months. It would be extremely difficult to achieve it in two years). Play tons of overtones and long tones. Do you know all your major, minor (natural, melodic, harmonic) and octatonic (diminished) scales and arpeggios through the entire normal range of the horn?

Altissimo is a very advanced technique, and it sounds really bad in the hands of someone who's not equipped to use it. While it is true that a modern pro player is expected to be able to use altissimo, too many beginners are focused on playing in the stratosphere too early on. Stay on earth for a while. We have beautiful beaches.
 

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The Front F and palm key based Altissimo notes are similar on Alto and Tenor.

There are many different Altissimo fingerings and appropriate voicings and some work on some sax family horns and not others.

Anytime someone plays a note using the octave key they are playing overtones.
Altissimo is just higher pitched overtones.
The Front F key was basically designed or discovered to be useful as an octave like key for the high E and above notes which extend into the Altissimo range but the Front F fingerings require appropriate voicing which in a basic way require changes to the back of the throat and back of the tongue to create the oral impedance needed to voice the note (overtone really).

A beginner has no precision control over their oral impedance so they have trouble with Altissimo fingerings but practice makes perfect.

Tenor Altissimo voicing is a bit different to Alto but adapting voicing for either horn shouldn't be that hard if someone can voice Altissimo already on one of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The Front F and palm key based Altissimo notes are similar on Alto and Tenor.

There are many different Altissimo fingerings and appropriate voicings and some work on some sax family horns and not others.

Anytime someone plays a note using the octave key they are playing overtones.
Altissimo is just higher pitched overtones.
The Front F key was basically designed or discovered to be useful as an octave like key for the high E and above notes which extend into the Altissimo range but the Front F fingerings require appropriate voicing which in a basic way require changes to the back of the throat and back of the tongue to create the oral impedance needed to voice the note (overtone really).

A beginner has no precision control over their oral impedance so they have trouble with Altissimo fingerings but practice makes perfect.

Tenor Altissimo voicing is a bit different to Alto but adapting voicing for either horn shouldn't be that hard if someone can voice Altissimo already on one of them.
Thanks. That was interesting and helpful.

I've decided to take it easy with altissimo and focus on some basics. I am going to continue with altissimo a little, however, as I would like to get there some day, and I see no reason not to start now. I'm just going to stick with a couple notes though, not trying to play scales in altissimo or anything. But it would be nice to throw that high A (or other) into a solo...

thanks all!
 
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