UPDATE (11 February 2024): Eleven years later, I’m now a parent who’s about seven years behind on practicing. I’ve lost my facility with altissimo, but am working on regaining it. In the meantime, two observations:
- Experiment with adding a G# pinky key for these fingerings. Per a post over on Everything Saxophone, this definitely helps with getting the tone clearer and the pitch easier to play and more stable on the 3rd octave G, and may help with more, too.
- On my (Antigua BS3220) bari, I find that the G# pinky key helps so much that altissimo G comes out even when I don’t hold the octave key down!
I’m holding off on updating this chart since I think I’ll need to completely redo it sooner or later. But I will share my discoveries, when I make them, and eventually revise the chart linked below as best I can.
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:
… 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!