My Alto Saxophone Altissimo Fingerings 2017

After spending a long time working on scales and arpeggios in the altissimo I’ve come up with my list of favorite fingerings I use on my Selmer Serie II alto (UPDATE: 3/11/17, I just bought a YAS-82z alto and have included additional fingerings that work on that horn). Just like my last post about soprano saxophone altissimo fingerings these fingerings were selected for their intonation, response, and interaction with each other. What I mean by “interaction” is that I don’t have to give myself a hand cramp going between fingerings, and the embouchure-air-tongue-jaw position doesn’t change drastically between fingerings. I’ve listed my fingerings in order from lowest to highest using the nomenclature of the French school. Keys listed in the parentheses are optional, and should be used depending on the intonation and sequence of notes.

1 or X, 2, G#, C5
X,2,Ta (C5)

1, 4, C3, Bb
X, 4, Ta
1, 4, Ta, C5
1, C5

1, 2, 4, Tc (5, Tf) (Eb, C#, C, B, Bb)
2, 4, (6, C, C#, or B, etc.) <– variation on fingering from Ted Nash’s Studies in High Harmonics
1, 3, 4, Tc
1, 2, 3, 4, Tc, Ta
1, Tc, C5

1, 3, Tc, Tf  <–flat (in tune on my YAS-82z alto)
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Tc, (Bb), (C), (B), (Eb)
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, C, Bb <–deliciously sharp…one of my favorites
2, 3, 4, Tc, Ta  <–FLEXIBLE, which could be good or bad
2, 3, Ta   <–in tune, unresponsive

3 (Eb)
3, 5, 6, Ta (Eb)
3, 4, 5
3, Tc (Ta)
3, 4, Tc, Ta
2, 3, 4, 5, Tc (Eb)

3, C1 (Tc+4, or just Tc)
3, 4, 5, C2 (6+Eb)
C1, 2, 4, 5, Eb, (C), (Bb) <–Thanks, Londeix/McAllister!

C2, 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 <–Thanks, Tim McAllister!
1, 3, 5, 6
C1, C2, Tc

X, 4, (Ta)
C1, C2, C3
1, 4, C3, (Eb)

X, 2, 3, 4

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, C, Bb

C1, 2, 4, 6, Eb <–McAllister/Delangle
4, 6, Eb

1, 3, 4, 6 <–I usually use no octave key for this fingering. Try it and let me know if that works for you!
C1, 1, 4, 5, Ta <–McAllister/Delangle

1, C1, C2, C3, (C4, C5)

X, 2, 5 <–Donald Sinta/David Henderson

1, 3, 4, 6 <–but not really because I can never play this high. Any “High Tones” experts out there?

Let me reiterate, this is by no means an exhaustive list of fingerings! I purposefully left out a lot of fingerings that I’ve learned over the years. There are plenty of good altissimo books out there if this isn’t the list for you. I developed this list practicing my scales and arpeggios in three octaves, but you might have a completely different system based on your setup or approach to playing the horn. If these fingerings opened your eyes a little bit, then please check out some of my other articles on intonation, #paper-free playing, improving your tone, and SAXOPHONE EMBOUCHURE.

To get practicing on your altissimo scales and arpeggios, check out SaxophonePerformanceTV on Youtube.

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