Home Alt Forums Altissimo Course Altissimo Encouragement

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    One of the misconceptions of playing altissimo keys – i thought it was a case of if you could play one altissimo key, then you could instantly play all the rest of the altissimo keys (false).

    In my case, once i could play one altissimo key (G being the 1st), i had to struggle to play the next altissimo key above it (being G#) and so on up the sax with all the rest of the altissimo keys.

    Because each new altissimo key takes time to play (some keys took me days,weeks, months to get sounding ok, and each new key is like having to learn to ride a bicycle again) the downside of this is i found i didn’t know enough altissimo keys to play simple tunes (like mary had a little lamb).

    By the time you get up to altissimo E, this is the average range of altissimo key notes that you need to know for playing sheet music, and they actually sound ok musically. When you go beyond E, they are much harder to control (not impossible, but call for a lot of fine tuning) .

    What i’ve been doing in recent months is practicing intervals (5,6,7,8) starting on Low C and going up to the 2nd altissimo G). Now i can smoothly play up and down from High C to altissimo E, and they sound like a proper scale should sound.

    So now i’m at the stage where i have enough altissimo keys that sound in scale, i can only now start to play simple tunes and enjoy the sound. Before that, i only used altissimo keys for improvising .

    The thing i find with altissimo keys, is they are so fine tuning, you can instantly hear when they go flat or sharp, compared to the mid range keys – which i find them harder to notice when i’m going slightly flat or sharp.

    The plus side of being able to play up to altissimo E. A lot of sheet music that i have, actually sound just as nice if you play everything an Octave higher. This means if the highest note in the music sheet is a High E, then you can play the whole sheet an octave higher , and its increased the number of music sheets that I can play an octave higher.

    I still only practice altissimo notes for less than 10 mins a day, and over the weeks and months, each individual altissimo note gradually gets sounding better tonally.

    If you play a straight note, you should be able to play it sounding like a standard pitch sound, or play it sounding with feeling and they both sound different. When you step into the altissimo range it is very very difficult to make them sound with feeling, and i’m only just begining to make some of the altissimo notes sound with feeling. Thats when i find now how lovely they can sound – plane sounding pitches are boring

    brother cavefish

    as far as playing them , i have hit them to 3rd octave D, just farting around though, I have yet to integrate anything above 3rd A in to any musical tune, AS you put it, “with feeling”, i really have not needed it,

    but tried them out, i too only hit them around them minutes a day, most people around can’t stand them LOL— my biggest stepping stone was finding the right keys to use for my sax, till i finally found a good chart that worked, then as one practices other key placements for that note come into play because that note becomes familiar-my thoughts anyway


    Off the top of my head, ‘Misty’ is one of the easiest tunes that i can think of where you can practice playing with feeling and actually hear you are playing with feeling, compared to a lot of standard tunes. it has a lot of simple expressive notes conveying a detached sound. i’ve listened to a few students of various ages play misty and theres no feeling in the way they play it, but again that comes with working on pitches (putting in the boring interval practices, its more a case of listening and working with pairs of notes like in intervals and hearing how they interact with each other, if you just practice a single note on its own with a tuner, you don’t get to hear how that individual pitch can sound so different when it’s played next to a different pitch – it actually helps you to hear the colour and depth of a pitch better.) Playing misty is great because some of those pairs of notes (intervals) can sound so different by playing them wrong dynamically (volume) or wrong in note duration (timing) by controlling both with the diapragm you can start colouring the pairs of sounds and develop better feeling to the listener.

    brother cavefish

    the key to playing ballads is ornamentation, a personal style,

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