Sunday, March 20, 2016

How to Get Overtones on an Alto Sax

Playing overtones on the alto saxophone can be accomplished with the proper embouchure and breath support. Learning to play overtones is difficult, but doing so will extend your playable range by up to two octaves. The technique is complicated because there aren't any special fingerings for it; instead, you use a fingering that acts as the base, or fundamental note, to play several higher pitches that fall on a system of frequencies known as the "overtone series."

Step 1 Finger one of the lower notes in the alto-sax register. Choose a note below the staff for the most effective result.

Step 2 Play and hold the note, and tighten your embouchure until the pitch moves up an octave. The next pitch you can achieve is a perfect fifth, and then a perfect fourth. Tighten your embouchure by contracting and flexing the muscles in your mouth to apply greater pressure to the reed.

Step 3 Practice holding each pitch of the overtone series until you can replicate it with ease.

The overtone series is a series of notes that follow a pattern. For instance, the first overtone is an octave followed by a perfect fifth and then a perfect fourth. The embouchure consists of the muscles in your face and jaw; imagine sucking on a straw to feel your embouchure muscles tighten.