Most of the time when I am out where other saxophonists can hear me play the question I get most often is how I have such flexibility in the altissimo register. Well aside from the hours I spent developing the range and sound of my altissimo register I think that the fingerings, for me, are the key.
After years of experimenting, these particular fingerings I have found flow easily from note to note and allow the ability to play intervalically. So, I encourage those who wish to learn these notes, start slowly. Beginning in the normal range of the saxophone (high D, E, or F) work up chromatically one note at a time. Get smooth going from the normal range to the altissimo.
Focus on transitioning and maintaining the tone. Pull out your scale exercises and work on playing your scales from within the normal to the altissimo range and when you are comfortable move on to playing entire scales in the altissimo. Once this is working for you, work on the interval studies.
I encourage you to follow this method to become able to play in the altissimo as freely as in the normal range. Above all, do this slowly. It took me nearly 4 years of study to become “fluid” at using the altissimo and I still have some sequences that are difficult to play spontaneously.
If you can get a copy of “The Art of the Saxophone” there are exercises to learn and practice the overtones of the saxophone. Learn and practice this to get a jump ahead on the playing of the altissimo. By the way, I started trying the fingerings in this book but altered them to the ones below which work for me. (All are with octave key.)
I hope that these charts will help you not only expand your range but expand your mind with new ideas and your heart with new hope for creativity. If you have any altissimo fingerings that work better for you, please share them here at Musicians Unite.
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-Frank Valdez – MU Columnist