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Star Wars

I am a alto sax player, but i don't compose music. i was wondering if any of those in this community were star wars fans and would like to write up a melody for star wars that isn't to hard. not a lot out there for this

Thanks

[article] Sax as a transposing instrument and writing music for saxophone

Saxophone (no matter what type we are talking about: alto,tenor, soprano, bari or some less used ones) is so-called “transposing instrument”. It means that you are “in a different key” than “concert pitch” instruments, such as piano, guitar, (double) bass, etc. If you are not familiar with the “transposing instruments” thing, I suggest that you read the first section of the wiki article before continuing with this review, it is pretty well explained there:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transposing_instrument

So, to get the pitch you need when writing some sax part, you need to transpose it up (from concert pitch):

  • For soprano sax: a major 2nd
  • For alto sax: a major 6th
  • For tenor sax: a major 9th (1 octave + major 2nd)
  • For bari sax: a major 13th (1 octave + major 6th)

As you can see the difference between soprano and tenor is one octave (as well as the difference between alto and bari).

Soprano and tenor saxes are called "Bb instruments", it means that for the “C” note in these instruments’ part the actual sounding pitch will be “Bb”.

Alto and bari saxes are called “Eb instruments”; so if you write the “C” note in some part for this instruments, you will actually get the sound of “Eb” concert pitch once it is played.

All this stuff seems to be quite complicated for someone that has never dealt with transposing instruments before, but using MuseScore notation software you can quickly make parts for saxophones even if you do not know all this transposing instruments theory (though this knowledge is vital for composers). There is a quick video tutorial on the topic, I'll post a link in the end of this post.

One more thing to remember: once you have written some sheet music for saxophone, check the range - the saxophone part (make sure that it is not shown in concert pitch, so unpress the “concert pitch” button in MuseScore editor while viewing the part) should have pitches only inside this range (from small octave “Bb” to 3rd octave “F”) :



The only exception is bari sax - it has the additional low “A” note, which, by the way, sounds pretty cool. Good arrangers, like Gordon Goodwin, often use this feature of bari saxophones. Of course, there are also altissimo pitches, but that is a separate topic for conversation.

If you wish, you can check the whole sax family at:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saxophone#Saxophone_family

This table from wikipedia is really “true to the fact”. Sopranino and sopranissimo saxes sound “higher” than concert pitch instruments: I mean that the first-octave “C” notated in sheet music for these instruments will actually sound as 1st-octave Eb and Bb respectively. All other saxes sound “lower than written”, just remember this rule. However, the most used saxes have been already mentioned before, so other ones are pretty rare,I should say.

And one more thing to be aware of when writing a piece for sax ensemble: saxophones and saxophonists are not perfect, and an arranger, especially writing for an amateur/student sax ensemble, or even for big band, should try not to overuse (I write the pitches that occur in sax part, not in concert pitch, of course) notes higher than 3rd octave C# (high notes tend to sound out-of-tune-high) and lower than 1st octave D (on some medium quality saxophones it’s hard to play those pitches, especially if saxophone is not in a perfect condition).

Don’t hesitate to add some thoughts and more tips on the topic in comments.

Don't you worry 'bout a thing arrangement.

Hey guys,

So I have a problem with the arrangement I am making for a Sax Trio. The song is called Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing by Stevie Wonder, but for this trio I wanted to transpose the Tori Kelly version from the movie Sing. 

Unfortunately, I don't know all of the notes since there are no other sheets of this version on the internet. I'd hope that some of you could help me with finishing this piece of music.

Thanks to those who would like to help!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI5VmfngnNQ

You can find my score in my profile ;)

Help with Sax sound

Hi everyone! 

New to the alto sax and i have a quick question, when i go to play i have about one or two seconds of just air and then the sound comes out fine - is this caused by my breathing, embouchure or reed? I have no idea? I just want a clean sound to come out the moment I begin. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! :)

Help with lower C#

Hi guys!

My daughter (11) has been really struggling with lower C# on her alto sax - she can play lower C and lower D nice and strong with any dynamics and articulation, but somehow the C# is a hit-or-miss affair for her. Her teacher suggested relaxing the embouchure a bit and putting more mouthpiece in, but it didn't seem to help much. Any suggestions will be much appreciated, but please note I am not a musician and I do not play any instrument myself so as plain English as possible, please. :-)
Also, any exercises you'd recommend? We've been trying interlaced scales (C, C#, D, C#, E, C#, etc.) and simple tunes so far.

Thanks!

Pawel

Help

I have been in my school band for 2 years. I went from elementary to middle school. We started in 6th grade and are now in 7th and I am a tenor sax. I currently gave problems with coming from over the break to some of the lower notes like F, F#, E, D, et cetera. If anyone has suggestions, please post some.

[article] Sax practice routine

One of the main problems every saxophone player faces at some point is: “what and how to practise”. I just wanted to share some experience and knowledge on the topic - I’ve been a practising saxophone player for about 18 years already. This is not a complete guide or an instruction, but a note containing some suggestions. Though I am more into practising improvisation now, I’ve tried to mention some more general practise activities here .
So let’s just go through an example of daily practice schedule:

  1. Breathing.
    Whenever I have time I get back to some breathing exercises (see my article on breathing) - 3-5 minutes or so - as breathing is one of the most important things for producing great sound, and cool sound is what we are constantly aiming for.

  2. Long tones
    - indispensable both for embouchure and for breathing skills. Moreover, different dynamics, cresc, dim, steady tone, etc. - at least 15 minutes. Be aware of your intonation and timbre during this exercise! You may want to use some tuner. Also read the article about embouchure posted in this group, I find it important. One of saxophone myths is that “only beginners should practise long tones”. I like to compare that with sports: every sportsman warms up before actually starting doing sports; long tones - is a warm-up for professional wind player, we need that to be in good shape, that’s of vital importance!

  3. Overtones*
    - practising overtones and matching them to standard fingerings. Try to match the “full” timbre and pitch of overtone when playing tones using “normal” fingerings. There are several books on the topic, a good place to start is the corresponding section of David Liebman’s “Developing a personal saxophone sound”

  4. Techniques you need:
    tonguing exercises for “junior” saxophonists , different articulations - for all sax players (it’s extremely helpful to start with simulating articulation of your favourite saxophonists, especially for jazz-oriented musician) for more advanced players the list might look like this: flutter tonguing, split tones (multiphonics), altissimo, growl, circular breathing, etc.

  5. Scales and arpeggios.
    All kinds of scales and arpeggios you need; a plenty of things for jazz players: all modes of major/minor scale, diminished and augmented scale, melodic minor scale (actually there are tons of scales, see the fundamental work of “Yusef Lateef “Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns”) , triads and 7th/9th chords (including augmented ones) arpeggios, studying chord/scale theory (check Mark Levine’s “Jazz Theory Book”). David Baker’s “Creative.Approach To Practicing Jazz” is a good source of ideas. “ I am not too familiar with classical stuff, so feel free to post your thoughts and share your experience in comments.

  6. Exercises.
    Both classical (for developing your overall playing technique, like “Daily exercises for saxophone” by H.Klose) and jazz (elements you need for improvisation - enclosure, 3 to b9, licks and patterns:II-V7, all kinds of cadences, cycle of fifths, etc.. Just remember to practice things in all 12 keys whenever it is possible. Here are the authors of literature on the topic: Jerry Coker (co-writer of “Patterns for jazz” and the author of a bunch of other books), David Baker (“How To Play Bebop” in 3 parts, etc.), and, of course, the educational books with playalongs by Jamey Aebersold.

  7. Practising improvisation.
    That is: studying transcribed solos (and the process of solo transcription itself, of course) - remember analysing not only the notes played in different harmonic situations, but also the master’s articulation and time feeling (is he behind, before or on the beat?; learning tunes with chord progressions, applying patterns, licks and everything you’ve learnt in steps 5 and 6 and, finally, several minutes of “just improvising” to track your progress and just for pleasure. There is a really cool book called “Elements Of The Jazz Language For The Developing Improvisor” by Jerry Coker, I highly recommend it. The same author has an article entitled “How to practice improvisation” in his “Complete Method for Improvisation” book (part of this article was included in Jamey Aebersold’s “Jazz Handbook”)

If you have any questions or if you have something to add to this article - please don’t hesitate to do it in comments!