What is the Altissimo Register?
The altissimo register on the saxophone is above F#3 (the palm key F#). There is no real limit to how high the altissimo range goes, although D8 is the highest I’ve seen any fingering chart go up to. There are plenty of fingerings to altissimo register for different type of saxophones. First look up always, eitrher you are looking them to alto, tenor, soprano or bariton saxophone!!!
Altissimo register is a capricous one! You do need a lot of patience to develop and persistance to maintain it! Just keep working and working and develop the throat to be flexible, because it is all about mastering vocal tract!
How to improve the control of this challenging register?
Altissimo register requires a great control of allover the instrument before you start to deal with. When you are being able to “eek” out an altissimo note – it is quite a bit more difficult than playing a single note within the saxophone’s normal range. If you haven’t got a solid basic skills necessary to obtain good tone on the notes below altissimo, especially on the sidekeys THEN forget about it, it’s too soon for altissimo.
The reed and mouthpiece combination is also important. With soft reed it ain’t gonna happen! Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all setup that guarantees high notes, so this is one of those things you might need to be EXTREMELY PATIENT, especially if you find yourself struggling and having smallest amount of progress. Please keep going, be persistant! this register needs vocal tract work muscles development and therefore it is necessary you keep “EEEKING” those strange sounds!!!ok! the work of vocal tract is entirely important, because note is high and you need muscles to keep it in a high register, like singing a really high note! And at the same time you need to give it the “throat space” to resonate and to maintain the note! So the good book to start overtonesz and developing vocal tract work is Eugene Rousseau HIGHTONES, it is very efficient and just keep doing exercises!
Importance of OVERTONES
You will not find a single book or tutorial videos on the subject of studying altissimo register that doesn’t cover the practice of OVERTONES. In fact, the altissimo register is nothing more than upper partials (like overtones) of lower notes, so there really is no distinction. Altissimo simply refers to the very top overtones on the saxophone. Altissimo register requires also very subtle control of the embouchure, shape of the inner: mouth, tongue, and throat (and with a throat muscles we are holding them on a necessary height, therefore is highly essential the flexibility of a vocal tract work). Add the fact that each altissimo note has several different fingerings SO there is no set-up fingering like in a lower register, that’ll get you to those high notes. The correct manipulation of those hard-to-control throat muscles must be guided by your EAR, so blindly fingering and blowing is not an option here – HEAR NOTES BEFORE you play it!
Support all altissimo register notes with a solid stream of air. Especially in the case of altissimo it really isn’t optional, it is MUST DO! Make sure that you’re supporting your sound with the muscles in your diaphragm, which is located right below your ribcage. Increasing the speed of the air is important as well. On the sax, if you “yawn” – then position of your tongue back and high creating yawning effect and lifting up the soft palette (which is the upper part of a vocal tract), creating suc conditions – the air will move faster and cause the reed to pop into altssimo mode of vibrations.
Grab one of the great books on the topic of altissimo.
Excellent practice books always make for a great shortcut in musical improvement as we’re pushed into playing things completely out of our self-defined comfort zones. Here are 3 classics you may want to check out by yourself:
1) “Top Tones for Saxophone” – Sigurd Rascher, published by Carl Fischer
2) Eugene Rousseau “Saxophone High Tones”: A Systematic Approach to the Extension of the Range of All the Saxophones: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Baritone
3) Ted Nash’s Studies in High Harmonics