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hi,

it's all written in the title but basically I found that when playing overtones on my low Bb I can hold the note longer when I play higher overtone. Every overtone can last longer than the fondamental. I am wondering why because the air has to travel the same length of the tube. By the way, I am not pinching/bitting the reed to produce overtone, my mouth is as relax as possible. Is this related to the speed of blowing?

Geolm
 

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I wish I could give you some super technical answer to this. And likely there is one. But I can't. It certainly doesn't feel like you're passing air through the whole horn as you start working your way up.

I just know this is normal. And I find it similar to the fact you can play higher notes in the normal range much longer than the bell notes. The air is much more directional up top and you seem to need less of it to get the note to sound.
 

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How about this? At the fundamental, the reed, acting as a valve, is open longer requiring more air to keep it vibrating. Overtones are higher in frequency and the reed (valve) is open less time, therefore requiring less air.

I know that circular breathing on a bari is much more challenging than on a soprano. I don't think it is about having to fill the bore with air, its all about keeping the reed vibrating at the lower frequency.

So there's my guess. Am I close to being right?
 

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Well whatever the science,the fact is the lower down you go on any horn more air is required that goes especially for flutes too. One reason many players find Baritone challenging as they get older-I speak from experience regarding the latter! 2 hours of Bari playing big band charts and I'm wrecked nowadays.
 

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How about this? At the fundamental, the reed, acting as a valve, is open longer requiring more air to keep it vibrating. Overtones are higher in frequency and the reed (valve) is open less time, therefore requiring less air.
I am pretty sure it doesn't work that way : the valve doesn't open and close less time with higher frequencies, it opens and closes _faster_ (i.e. more often per second).
On a side note, and if I understand correctly how the tone production works, the time the valve stays opened/closed is not related to absolute pitch but to the texture/color of the tone, i.e. to the distribution of amplitude of the given overtones present in the produced sound.

To explain the difference of effort to sustain a note between high pitched and low pitched, I think it is safer to reason in terms of wavelength, or 'volume of air to move at once'. Frequency and wavelength are related through speed of sound in the air (in our case), the higher the frequency, the smaller the wavelength. High pitches of the saxophone corresponds to a shorter tube : opening holes closer to the mouthpiece.
If you want to produce a long-wavelength tone, you have to move more air than for short-wavelength, for example producing a low Bb requires to move ~1m of air 'at once' (on soprano/alto) which takes more effort than moving its first overtone (medium Bb) : double the frequency halves the wavelength so you just have to move 0.5m of air.
Moving more air is more difficult to initiate, but also to maintain.

If I understand correctly how the physics of the saxophone work... ;)
 

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Long wavelength = low pitch.

Low pitch = longer air column (to first resistance)

Long air column = more breath to sustain

pitch up = shorter air column

To fill the note up in the horn to resistance for a low note requires more air

I am always pushing against the top boundary of of the air column.

For higher tones, that boundary comes closer and closer to the mpc.

A very high note can be sustained for a long time because the first resistance I push against is right up to the mpc.

[This is all completely made up, based upon how it subjectively feels.
I have no science to support any of these assertions.]
 

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In addition, this point brings up a problem I had to face and overcome when learning the sax.

It is crucial to fill up the horn with air to make a proper sound [unless one is shooting for sound effects], even at the lowest volume.

This feeling of striking the top of an air column was so powerful that early on I tended to only supply support to that push point.

This resulted in poor tone quality.

The rest of the horn would be empty, so to speak.

I had to learn to feel the way to make the entire horn fill up with a high note, even when the resistance I felt was right up next to the mpc.

On the other hand, with low notes, I had to learn to fill the horn up backwards, from the bell (down where the resistance was) upward, in order to make the notes sound right.

No doubt this is all meaningless visualization that I developed while working on long tones, and is idiosyncratic.

It is how I think of it.
 

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In addition, this point brings up a problem I had to face and overcome when learning the sax.

It is crucial to fill up the horn with air to make a proper sound [unless one is shooting for sound effects], even at the lowest volume.

This feeling of striking the top of an air column was so powerful that early on I tended to only supply support to that push point.

This resulted in poor tone quality.

The rest of the horn would be empty, so to speak.

I had to learn to feel the way to make the entire horn fill up with a high note, even when the resistance I felt was right up next to the mpc.

On the other hand, with low notes, I had to learn to fill the horn up backwards, from the bell (down where the resistance was) upward, in order to make the notes sound right.

No doubt this is all meaningless visualization that I developed while working on long tones, and is idiosyncratic.

It is how I think of it.
A good analogy Click, visualisation is an important tool-and it makes sense.
 

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I don't know about the filling the horn with air concept. That one never made sense to me. Sure, baritones require more air, but I would think it is a function of the size of the mouthpiece and reed more than the size of the horn. If you put a soprano mouthpiece on a baritone, it will be out of tune and also take less air. Same size sax, but the mouthpiece would "take less air," not the saxophone. With a long enough neck extension, it might even be possible to play in tune. Putting a baritone mouthpiece on a soprano and it would "take more air."

The reed certainly opens and closes faster the higher the note. In theory, the reed could be open the same amount of time even though vibrating faster, but I don't think that's what happens. My theory on why higher notes require less air is based on looking at the reed like a diving board. What you do to adjust the "frequency" of the diving board is to adjust the fulcrum. Move it back and you get a long springy board with a slower action (the low notes). Move it forward and you get a faster frequency (the high notes). Moving the fulcrum isn't as obvious when blowing through the sax mouthpiece, but that is what is happening in order to change the frequency. You simply can't play a low Bb and a high F using the same length of reed.

The length of the air tube in the sax helps the reed vibrate at a certain frequency, but you can overcome this. Play a 2F and, keeping the octave key pressed, use your embouchure to drop to a low F. You will find that you have to loosen up and let more of the reed vibrate. If you take more mouthpiece in, you may get beyond the area where you can (almost unconsciously) control the vibration rate. But somehow you have to get more of the reed to vibrate to drop the pitch.

Air doesn't come in just over the tip of the mouthpiece. Probably a larger percentage comes in over the rails (at least on low notes where a longer length of reed is in play). The higher notes use just the tip of the reed and most of the rail stays sealed. That's why less air.

Sorry about the diving board analogy. I couldn't think of a way to use my usual car analogy.

Mark
 

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I don't know about the filling the horn with air concept. That one never made sense to me. Sure, baritones require more air, but I would think it is a function of the size of the mouthpiece and reed more than the size of the horn. If you put a soprano mouthpiece on a baritone, it will be out of tune and also take less air. Same size sax, but the mouthpiece would "take more air," not the saxophone. With a long enough neck extension, it might even be possible to play in tune.

The reed certainly opens and closes faster the higher the note. In theory, the reed could be open the same amount of time even though vibrating faster, but I don't think that's what happens. My theory on why higher notes require less air is based on looking at the reed like a diving board. What you do to adjust the "frequency" of the diving board is to adjust the fulcrum. Move it back and you get a long springy board with a slower action (the low notes). Move it forward and you get a faster frequency (the high notes). Moving the fulcrum isn't as obvious when blowing through the sax mouthpiece, but that is what is happening in order to change the frequency. You simply can't play a low Bb and a high F using the same length of reed.

The length of the air tube in the sax helps the reed vibrate at a certain frequency, but you can overcome this. Play a 2F and, keeping the octave key pressed, use your embouchure to drop to a low F. You will find that you have to loosen up and let more of the reed vibrate. If you take more mouthpiece in, you may get beyond the area where you can (almost unconsciously) control the vibration rate. But somehow you have to get more of the reed to vibrate to drop the pitch.

Air doesn't come in just over the tip of the mouthpiece. Probably a larger percentage comes in over the rails (at least on low notes where a longer length of reed is in play). The higher notes use just the tip of the reed and most of the rail stays sealed. That's why less air.

Sorry about the diving board analogy. I couldn't think of a way to use my usual car analogy.

Mark
 
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