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Saxophone Lessons Learned ::
Saxophone Alternate Fingering

by John Laughter

Alternate fingering can be used to obtain a "double tone" (trumpet w/ mute on and off the bell) type of effect that is popular in a lot of solos. Some examples;

  • 1. Play a 3rd space C then finger a Low C with or w/o the octave key and go back and forth.
  • 2. Play a high A then close the right hand D, E and F keys and back and forth.
  • 3. Play a 4th line D and maintain the fingering while opening/closing the left D palm key.
  • 4. Play a 3rd line bis Bb then finger a low Bb with or w/o the octave key back and forth.
  • 5. Play a 3rd space C# then go to the low C# fingering with or w/o the octave key.

The small variance of intonation between the above alternate notes help to make the effect. (You can get a little grit in the tone on C, C#, D and Bb w/o the octave key by dropping the jaw to get a split octave.) Add some "ghosting" as you go back and forth to add color.

Other alternate fingerings can be used to help when speed and clean fingerings needed, especially in classical or fast jazz passages;

To play a first space or fifth line F to F# trill, play F then press the alt. F# key that is under the right palm with the 3rd finger. Or, to play F to F# to G real fast or G to F# to F, use the the F# alt. key with the 3rd finger. This will help stop the "crossing noise" that can be produced by uneven fingering that is common with fast F to F# to F fingering. The same key can be used to play E to F to F# in a fast passage.

    There are 4 basic fingerings for Bb;
  • 1. B and A keys with the bottom side key of the 3 keys under the right palm,
  • 2. the first finger of both hands,
  • 3. and the B key with the bis key.
  • 4. Low Bb fingering w/ the octave key.

To make a smooth change from F to Bb, use the bis key (pearl key between the B and A keys.) Finger F then release all fingers except the B key and bis key. Press both keys with the left pointing finger. Or you can go from F to Bb by fingering Bb with the first finger of each hand. Play F then raise the G and A finger. To go from B to C and stop the "crossing noise", play B then press the middle key of the 3 palm keys under the right hand, i.e. the side key above the side Bb key.

Middle C to D can also present a problem with crossing noise if you have a rapid passage back and forth. Many players will leave the right hand D, E and F keys down when going back and forth from D to C real quick. This takes away a lot of key action and noise.

Alternate Fingering

Related Information

by John Laughter

John Laughter web sites :: AOL Site, Geocities Site

“The History of Top 40 Saxophone Solos-1955-2004”


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