Altissimo Chart for Yamaha YTS-32 Tenor Saxophone

UPDATE (31 July 2013): Well, I haven’t made much progress on developing this chart, so I haven’t updated the PDF, but I can report a few discoveries:

  • Make sure the cork on the neck of your horn is not compressed to the point where the mouthpiece is even slightly loose. This will make it hard to play overtones and voice altissimo notes properly. If you’re not up for steaming the cork to get it to expand, then a piece of paper wrapped around it ought to do the trick. If it’s still loose, I’d get the neck re-corked. But the paper trick made it immediately possible for me to voice the first three overtones on low notes (octave, octave+fifth, 2-octave) where before I could only hit the first two of three; it expanded the range of how high I can voice those overtones; and it made a problematic altissimo much, much more clear and straightforward. 
  • I’ve managed to expand the range a tiny bit more: all the palm keys down, including the high F#, lets me voice an E, a bit out of tune. But the fingerings for G#, A, and A# on the chart can also be voiced higher. I need to check whether I’m voicing/overblowing the tones by a 4th, as Kevin Danenberg describes on his tenor altissimo fingerings page, or something else: I’d swear I’m getting an D#4 on the G#3, an E4 on the A3, an F4 on the A#3, and so on up through the remaining fingerings on the chart, but I’ll check carefully next time I practice.
  • I’m still not completely happy with the fingerings for the G#3-A#3: they speak less reliably than anything else on the chart (especially the A#3) and the tuning isn’t really great either. So I’m still searching for alternates. That said, when they do pop out, they’re clear and strong, and easy to work into scales. I’ve been playing scales up and down them lately and it’s coming along well. But alternate fingerings are still  on my list of things to figure out.

ORIGINAL POST: I’ve been working on producing altissimo tones and including them in my scale and arpeggio practice, and enjoyed a major breakthrough in the last day, such that I’ve extended my range by almost an octave in only  few days’ work!

But the thing is, I found the standard altissimo fingerings in the books I have on hand, and have found online, haven’t worked so well for me. I looked around for something specific to Yamaha saxophones, and found a discussion of Yamaha-specific altissimo fingerings on the Saxontheweb forum. After inquiring with the user “soybean” I was generously and quickly emailed a PDF copy of a chart specific to Yamahas

That original chart (see below for a link) was helpful to me, but I found a lot of it didn’t work so directly for me–there were adjustments necessary, so I figured maybe it’s not just idiosyncratic to my mouth/throat/horn–maybe adjustments relate to differences between the different lines of Yamaha instruments, since the original chart was specific to Yamaha YTS-62, and I play a YTS-32.

So I figured, why not do up my own chart (using Bret Pimentel’s wonderful fingering chart image generator app), as a record, but also share it as a public service to anyone out there trying to develop their altissimo playing on the Yamaha YTS-32?

Note: this is a work in progress at the moment: there’s only one fingering per note, for example, and I’m not completely satisfied I’ve found the best possible fingerings for them all yet… so I’ll likely update this chart with workable alternate fingerings and cheats and so on (and will add the updated PDF here, when that happens); I also plan to experiment with the front high-F key and see if it makes any difference for some of these fingerings.  But I am currently ecstatic to be able to play all the way up to high E-flat with not much trouble–when a few weeks ago I was struggling to voice even just the lowest altissimo note, high-G) and I wanted to share my findings.

The main problem so far is that the fingerings for Ab, A, and Bb are somewhat prone to producing multiphonics unless they’re very exactly voiced. I have a feeling there’s a way to stabilize them, but haven’t found it yet.

Anyway here’s my chart:

The version above is obviously small, but never fear: if you right-click on the chart, you can download a copy… or just click it directly to view it onscreen if you prefer. (Here’s another direct link to the file.)

… and for your reference, here’s the chart I was given, and which I used as a starting point for working all this out.

I welcome feedback, by the way, from anyone who tries these fingerings out, or who as insights to offer, especially anyone playing on a YTS-32 (or a Yamaha horn generally). I’m sure my results will change as I experiment further, and of course there more, higher notes (though things sort of get plastic up way up there, and I’m not sure about how to proceed going higher than the spot I’ve reached) but I’m happy to take any tips, insights, or thoughts anyone else has to offer!

5 thoughts on “Altissimo Chart for Yamaha YTS-32 Tenor Saxophone

    1. Great! Let me know if it works with your horn–I imagine it should, but I am curious. I should add, I never quite found a better configuration for the Ab-A-Bb right at the bottom of the altissimo register: everything above that was stable, but those three notes, not so much… with the fingerings on this chart. If you find something better, I’d also love to hear about it and try it on my own horn.

    2. Oh, and one more thing: I found that it’s possible by emphasizing a higher upper partial I can use the same fingerings to add another half-octave above this. Especially the last few palm key-fingered tones on the chart work well this way. I’m sure there’s a fingering that could help stabilize or emphasize that partial, but I don’t know what it is.

  1. You Sir ! Are a gem for creating and publishing this Altissimo Chart for the YTS-32. MY instrument for a number of years and the time has come for me to develop my skills, just a little more.

    1. No worries, I’m very happy to share! I, too, owned the horn for many years before I seriously took on scaling Mt. Altissimo. All the usual advice about open throat, relaxing, etc. applies, but I found these fingerings helped a lot too. Also, it seemed to get easier for me when I switched to a more open-faced mouthpiece, but it could be that it was just a coincidence of timing and I just made my breakthrough around the same time. (I wouldn’t rush out and get a new piece, in other words.)

      In any case, if you find any alternate fingerings that work better for you, or have comments after trying this out, please let me know and I’ll try update the chart or add an addendum or something. Good luck with it, and don’t give up!

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