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Home Alt Forums Altissimo Course Hitting An Overtone Wall

  • This topic has 39 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 4 years ago by Anonymous.
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    brother cavefish

      the altissimo fingering differs on each sax, for me anyway, , i am not really concerned about going too high anyway, for now i am fine with alt G and A


        cheating is good, do whatever it takes and hearing the note in your mind’s eye is VERY important when working on altissimo.


          Thanks for all these tips .. I have been quietly observing them. I can hit the normal low Bb (of course) then 1st overtone to Bb , second to F but that third overtone is a bitch! No matter what I try I can NEVER hit it. I am going to try the VAW, VER, VOO and vowel technique above to see if that helps out tomorrow as I’m reading this at night time and I don’t want to hurt my neighbour’s ears. If anyone has ANY other suggestions please post them because I have been on the altissimo course now for months and that is my stumbling block .. the damn third overtone.


            I had same problem mambo. What worked for me was playing scale with overtones. So when you finger low Bb (second F), then without using tongue, press low C, then low D and then low Eb, then press again low Bb and so on. It will take some time for each note, but it worked for me. Some times i also first play regular tone to get that sound in mind and then play overtones. Hope this helps you.



              Hi Mambo,
              the vaw ver voo are what i posted years ago, when i mastered all the overtones.

              The underlying problem, is not having developed certain parts of your embouchure which also needs to be supported by your breathing (vital).

              For a start, You need to take in a hell of lot more air and fill your lungs up with more air, to support those higher overtones.

              The reason for doing these Var voo vaw sounds, you need to sing them first with a lot of air support, you will find them hard to sing as you will be forced to put your tongue in a completely different position to sing them, and also you will find it difficult support it with air from your lungs, so they will sound feeble when you try them out.

              This is the reason you can’t go higher up the overtones, your embouchure has never been used in that position. What i discovered is by singing a strong VER VOO etc, if you sing through the same through the sax. ie hold the same embouchure (mouth, tongue, throat position as in a Voo sound that you sung) apply that to which ever overtone you want.

              Only when you can hit all those overtones, can you whizz up the altissimo notes properly, and you will all those altissimo variations on the internet start working.


                ok, i checked my knotes from years back, and the following is the singing phrases that i used to get all the overtones

                1st – vaw
                2nd – voo
                3rd – ver
                4th – year or noo
                5th – foo
                6th – fii
                7th – fee
                8th – hii
                9th – hee

                the main problem i have a Uk speaking accent, so the usa vaw might sound different to a UK accent,

                example the word vase pronounced in the uk we say vawse in the usa you say vayse
                so my pronounciations may be pronounce different by usa persons


                  Haha fantastic! I will try this … I’m an aussie … so will try to adjust as necessary 😉 Thanks for everyone’s input it’s very much appreciated. The moment I get all overtones I will video myself and post it and pass on any tips and help …that helped me to encourage others. Thanks again!


                    The other thing is, when you start learning overtones, you may not be able to learn them in the order 1 2 3, you might find you can do 1 2 6 etc..

                    In my case i got stuck on one of them, but i found i could do one higher up,
                    so i focused on the higher up overtone, and then worked down, and the overtone i was stuck on, was still the last one to master.

                    Also as you start being able to do one or or two overtones, you will find you can start doing the odd altissimo note (eg altissimo G), so don’t be afraid to keep trying the odd altissimo note. But be warned even if you can hit one altissimo note, and a couple of overtones, this means you still cant play that altissimo note properly. You can play in altissimo range properly, when you can play all the overtones.

                    Later on you will find when you play one altissimo note, you can play a higher altissimo note on the same key position, and you can only do that in the same manner that you play several overtones on a low Bb. So being able to do all the overtones allows you to master all the altissimo keys.

                    Finally, JF’s course is very good, as when you play altissimo notes, you want to be able to play them like you play a scale, or chromatically, so the notes are easy to play (finger key wise) one after another. And there tons of altissimo key positions to play the same note, but the key positions dont allow you to play a scale smoothly with out tying your fingers up in knots.
                    With JF’s course, he’s worked out key positions that flow smoothly.

                    There is no reason not to adopt a different key position for any altissimo note providing you can play through a scale quite easily. There’s nothing worse than flying through a mid scale range, and then find yourself fumbling through an altissimo range due to awkward keying positions.


                      When working on overtones, what are some suggestions for knowing if you are properly hitting the octave and subsequent 3rds and 5ths etc? Are you using a tuner and trying to hit the notes? I’m able to hit other notes while maintaining the fingering but I have no idea if they are correct. The tips from the ear training help get close.


                        check out the music theory

                        You can use a tuner to tell what note you are playing especially when it gets very high up the sax scale.

                        However a lot of the overtones, you can check them against the sound produced by the normal fingering positions. ex if you blow the 1st overtone on a low Bb, you can compare it to the sound of the normal middle Bb to check that you have played the overtone correctly and so on.

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