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I see that there are several fingerings, some of which are considered to be alternate fingerings.
I am trying to determine what is the "standard"

Extra bonus points if we can discuss why some are better than others.

Thanks
 

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The "standard" for flute is our 1:1 fingering, "standard" for clarinet is our A fingering with side Bb key, and the standard that I have always seen on sax is the same as clarinet. The third being the bis key. I'll call the "flute" fingering Bb because it is a B fingering with an extra key to flatten it, and the clarinet fingering as "A#" because it's an A fingering with a key to raise the pitch.
Problem with the bis key is you can't come off of it if playing chromatic passages or in keys where you have a A# and Bn, or a Bb and Cb, but it is immensely useful for some runs and especially arpeggiations where you can get crossing notes or just be generally clunky with the A# fingering. Think a G minor arpeggio where it's clunky to go both from the G to the A# fingering as well as the A# fingering to D.
Problem with the A# fingering is mainly clunkiness.
Problem with 1:1 is also clunkiness but is useful with passages. This is the least used fingering in my experience.

Since the side Bb tonehole is essentially directly opposite the A tone hole, there should not be any voicing/timbre/intonation differences between the bis and A# fingering. If you have some differences, it may be a key height issue or your toneholes may be in a slightly different spot. In that case your primary should be based on which one sounds and tunes better.
 

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I see that there are several fingerings, some of which are considered to be alternate fingerings.
I am trying to determine what is the "standard"

Extra bonus points if we can discuss why some are better than others.

Thanks
I'm not sure this will help, but I think it's a case of knowing them all and the more you play the more the more instinctive it becomes. It seems almost a subconscious choice now when I play. There is probably a reason behind it, but I haven't really thought about it. I probably did use to rely more on the bis initially but find I use it less now.
 

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This has been one of the more controversial topics on SOTW in the past. There are lots of individual opinions. This is the information contained in the Art of Saxophone Playing by Larry Teal p. 74 - 75 on the subject.

1. The side. This position should be considered the basic fingering for beginners. The location of the side key in respect to the first finger R.H. is not out of line with the correct hand position. Adeptness in the use of this key is a fundamental requirement of adequate technique. It is a must in the chromatic scale, and the best available in the Bb - C shift.

2. The "bis." The bis fingering requires a shift of the first finger L.H. so that the same finger closes both the 1 and the bis key. It is advantageous when the G - Bb or A - Bb interval is used, provided the Bb is not followed or preceded by a C or B natural. Avoid sliding from Bb to B natural (or vice versa) with this fingering.

3. The "1 - 4." Essentially, the 1 - 4 fingering is used in flat keys to pass from F to Bb and the reverse. It is also the smoothest fingering for B - A# - B. The The use of this position is dependent upon correct adjustment of the instrument, and if the tone fails to respond properly, the teacher or repairman should be consulted.

4. The "1 - 5." This position has a usage similar to the 1 - 4 except that it is employed for the F# - A# (Gb - Bb) shifts. Here, too, the instrument must be in good adjustment.
 

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Pro jazz players most often use the Bis Bb. Except when playing in F# and B, then they use the side key. Most jazz/pop/studio folks don't use 1+1 too much, but many classical players do. I personally don't because a) your horn has to be in perfect adjustment for 1+1 to work, and that adjustment is often one of the first to go out and b) it doesn't sound as clear on my instruments as the other two.

Of course this is a generalization, and like all generalizations, there are exceptions; however, accomplished saxophonists know and can use all fingerings for Bb/A#. Practice them all!!!!
 

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63 years of playing soprano as my main instrument. I don't even think about which one to use - it is automatic for me. Depends on what comes before and after. DAVE
 

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The first thing that made this 'click' for me was a discussion, on SOTW, of cross-fingering ... most the alternatives are there to avoid the situation where you have to lift one finger and lower another in perfect sync like F/F# (hence the little F# key) etc.
The next thing that made it 'click' is listening to myself on recordings ... it may not sound bad when you're playing, but on playback getting it wrong can sound quite strange.

So it's worth having a think, as you're learning a piece, as to which gives the smoothest sound, as per saxocleses' Larry Teal extract. If you learn a 'standard' first, it's harder to pick a better fingering later.

And, seems to me, somethings it's just a compromise - there seem to be some arrangers / composers who are like evil chess players... "ah ha! now I've made you pick the best fingering to get from here to there, but it's the worst to get from there to what's next... get out of that one!!" or "well, here's a phrase where you'll really need bis first and then side a couple of notes later... good luck"
 

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I use the A fingering and the side B-flat key more than any other option.
There are times I will use the bis key but it’s not very frequent.
 

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The "standard" for flute is our 1:1 fingering, "standard" for clarinet is our A fingering with side Bb key, and the standard that I have always seen on sax is the same as clarinet. The third being the bis key. I'll call the "flute" fingering Bb because it is a B fingering with an extra key to flatten it, and the clarinet fingering as "A#" because it's an A fingering with a key to raise the pitch.
Problem with the bis key is you can't come off of it if playing chromatic passages or in keys where you have a A# and Bn, or a Bb and Cb, but it is immensely useful for some runs and especially arpeggiations where you can get crossing notes or just be generally clunky with the A# fingering. Think a G minor arpeggio where it's clunky to go both from the G to the A# fingering as well as the A# fingering to D.
Problem with the A# fingering is mainly clunkiness.
Problem with 1:1 is also clunkiness but is useful with passages. This is the least used fingering in my experience.

Since the side Bb tonehole is essentially directly opposite the A tone hole, there should not be any voicing/timbre/intonation differences between the bis and A# fingering. If you have some differences, it may be a key height issue or your toneholes may be in a slightly different spot. In that case your primary should be based on which one sounds and tunes better.
When I started taking lessons with a really accomplished player and teacher in Vancouver he had me relearn all my major scales and modes again using the Bis Bb. So although difficult it's not impossible to A# to B quickly. You just have to practice it a lot. You obviously can't trill between those two notes though.

1:1 is super awkward for me just because I never needed to practice it. But I bet relearning all my scales using it I'd make it work as well.
 

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You need to know all of them, but I find the bis Bb to be the most useful, by far. I'd say I use the bis fingering at least 90% of the time and the side Bb about 10%. Most would say the side Bb is the 'standard' fingering, but I'd argue for the bis key in most cases. I only use the '1+1' fingering for a B to Bb trill (or quick back and forth).

Every time this topic comes up (and it's come up a lot; you can find plenty of older threads on it), I refer to this excellent video by Greg Fishman, which spells it out very well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C87hqa5AoB8
 

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I think it is better to keep this one simple. The side key is standard.

To simplify everything, the choice of which set of fingerings I use is purely based on the note that becomes directly before and the note that comes directly after the Bb. I find that I fuss a lot on my faster passages to figure out what is best.

My sax teacher once told me to use the Bis key when ever you have more than 2 flats in the equation: for example: Eb major, Db major, etc. I have found this advice to be completely useless. Use what works best for you.

The more I play, the less I use the standard side-key. It is normally too slow - but often it is the best option.
 

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I probably use the bis key most but on my tenors, MarkVI and especially my BA, the side key Bb seems more resonant.
 

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I use the bis key 90%+ of the time. When I rest my left hand on the keys, my 1st finger sits on both the B and bis keys - I only move it to play B. I love it!
^^What he said^^
The "1-1" fingering is stuffy and out of tune on 99% of the saxes I've ever played.......and I've played my fair share.
It's also the most awkward of the three options. Yes, "1-1" is the basic Bb fingering on flute, but I also use the thumb Bb on flute most often.
Lastly, common sense will dictate which fingering to use. As Dave Dolson also pointed out, it depends what's before (and after) the Bb in question.
When first using the bis fingering, it will probably take some time to get used to, but once you get comfortable with it, you won't go back.....
 

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When first using the bis fingering, it will probably take some time to get used to, but once you get comfortable with it, you won't go back.....
Exactly. What needs getting used to is rolling on and off the bis key (see Greg's video I posted above). Some would argue that it's better to use side Bb in those situations, but actually it's easy enough to roll between bis Bb and B once you get enough practice at it. On some horns, the bis key may need adjustment if it's too high or too low to do that.

There are times, especially playing a chromatic run, where the side key is a better choice. No hard and fast rules apply. Bottom line, you have to find out which technique works best for you.
 

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Exactly. What needs getting used to is rolling on and off the bis key (see Greg's video I posted above). Some would argue that it's better to use side Bb in those situations, but actually it's easy enough to roll between bis Bb and B once you get enough practice at it. On some horns, the bis key may need adjustment if it's too high or too low to do that.

There are times, especially playing a chromatic run, where the side key is a better choice. No hard and fast rules apply. Bottom line, you have to find out which technique works best for you.
I hear ya, but too many times I've got "bit" by the bis bug. Meaning while doing something chromatic from B to Bb, my damn finger got caught in between. And I don't have fat fingers! I'm comfortable using either the side or bis, but far prefer the bis.

The end. ;-)
 

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I see that there are several fingerings, some of which are considered to be alternate fingerings.
I am trying to determine what is the "standard"

Extra bonus points if we can discuss why some are better than others.

Thanks
Why? Are you try to determine what to teach a beginning student first? Are you a beginner yourself who only wants to learn one fingering?

As you can see from the replies, you need to learn them all. Bis is used in most situations but won't work for trills or other similarly quick Bb-B natural sequences (although I personally use them in quick transitions as well). However, I would not teach a beginner Bis first. I would teach side Bb. As I introduced new key signatures, I'd work in the "fork" fingerings (F or F#) to simplify arpeggios. As I introduced scalar runs and other intervals, I'd show the student Bis.

Here's Pete Thomas's page with charts and uses (thanks Pete) :
https://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-alternative
 
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