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Overtones on Bb[edit]

This exercise is designed to teach a saxophonist how to isolate the overtones above a fundamental.

Play a low Bb as normal. Then play an F natural with the octave key as normal. Then, holding the fingering for a Bb, think and play an F natural. Practice alternating between Bb and F without changing fingering. Next isolate the Bb an octave above the low Bb. Eventually it is possible to play the whole overtone series above a low Bb.

Bugle Calls[edit]

To practice facility in voicing the overtone series you can practice bugle calls. Maintain a low Bb fingering throughout and change notes only by altering your voicing.

Palm Key Overtones[edit]

As overtones can be played above Bb so they can be played above other notes. Importantly, the palm keys overblown by a major 6th make useful fingerings for altissimo notes B to D#. For the B (palm key D overblown) add the G key for extra stability. Practice alternating between the palm key note and its altissimo alternative. Once you are secure with these notes try the next overtone a perfect forth above eg. Eb – C – F – C – Eb.

Repertoire that uses Altissimo[edit]

  • Concertino by Ibert
  • Concerto by Larsson
  • Pequena Czardas by Pedro Iturralde
  • Aeolian Song by Warren Benson
  • Concerto by David Maslanka
  • Concerto by Glazunov

Further Reading on Altissimo[edit]

  • Rascher, Sigurd, M. (1941) Top-Tones for the Saxophone, (Carl Fischer, New York)
  • Rousseau, Eugene High Tones