My Soprano Saxophone Altissimo Fingerings 2017

Recently I’ve switched camps. I no longer play my Selmer Serie III soprano saxophone opting instead for my wife’s Yamaha intermediate model YSS-475 . I don’t know what to say other than: 1) No high-G key needed, and 2) I like the way it plays better.

I’m writing about soprano altissimo fingerings today. I’ll list my preferred fingerings Serie III and then my new-new Yamaha fingerings. Interesting point about the Yamaha is that it is a solid-body soprano with a high-F# key. I can’t help but think that the one-piece design contributes to my affinity for the Yamaha. The fingerings that work for the YSS-475 will work for any solid-body-high-F#-key soprano. ANYWAY, back to the fingerings. Here’s a quick list using the nomenclature of the French school.

Selmer Serie III Fingerings:

F#:
1 or x, 2, C5, G#
x, 2, TA

G:
C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6
1346 (C, B, or Bb) *Hurlburt

G#:
1 or X, C6, G# (Ta, Eb)
1, 3, C
P, 3 (Ta)

A:
1, 3, Tc (Tf)
2, 3, G#

Bb:
3
3, Tc
3, Tc, 5, 6 (“sharper, more responsive” <– Kerns)
3, 4, 5
2, 4, 5, C

B:
C2, 3 (Tc)
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (B)

C:
1, 3, 4, 6, Eb
1, 3, 5, 6 <–Claude Delangle’s fingering
C2, 1, 2, 4, 5, 6(Eb) <–thanks to Tim McAllister for showing me this

C#:
x, 2, 3 (Tf, or Eb) *Hurlburt
x, 4, Ta
1 *Delangle

D:
x, 2, 3, 4 *Hurlburt
C3, C4, 1 *Delangle
x, Ta

Eb:
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, C, Bb
2, 4, 6, Eb, (Tc)

E:
2, 5

YAMAHA YSS-475 FINGERINGS:

F:
1,2,3,G# C# or B, C5 (nice bridge into the altissimo)

F#:
1 or X, 2, C5, G# (or C# or B)
x, 2, Ta
1, 2, C5

G:
P (bis), C5, Ta, (G#)
1, 4, C5, Ta
1, 4, C5, Eb (C#) (B)
1, 3, 4, 6 (Bb) (C, C#)
X, 4, Ta (Eb)

G#:
X or 1, Ta, C5, (G# or C#)
1, 3, 5 or 6, Tf (B) <–needs to be lipped up
1, 2, 4, Tc (C5) (Ta) (B)
P, Ta, Tc (C5)
X, Ta (Tf, Eb) <–very mediocre fingering only to be used in emergencies
1, 3, 4, C5, Tc
1, 4, Tc (C5)
1, 4, Tc, C5, (Eb)
1, 3, C
P, 3
1, 3, 4, 6, Tc (5)

A:
1, 4, Tc, Ta, C5
1,3,Tc (Tf)
2,3,4,5,6 (C)(Bb)(C+Bb)

Bb:
2, 3, 4, 5 *Delangle
3 (Tc)
3, Tc, 5, 6, *Kerns
3,4,5 (Tc)

B:
3,C1 (Tc)

C:
1, 3, 4, 6 (Eb)
1, 3, 5, 6
C2, 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 *McAllister

C#:
X, 4 (Ta)
X, 2, 3 (Tf) (Eb)

D:
1, C1, C2, C3, C4
X, 2, 3, 4
1

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

E:
2, 5

This is by no means an exhaustive list of soprano altissimo fingering. I curated this list because I love the way they tune, and interact with each other. Try folding these into your scales practice, licks, and repertoire, and you will see what I mean. If you disagree with this list (“Sean, why are these so friggin’ sharp!?”), then walk a mile in my shoes by reading my 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.

Do you have any fingerings you would like to share? HIGHER ONES (you crazy!)? Please leave a comment below!

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