Tips 2: F to G altissimo trill

Altissimo Trill

Altissimo Trill – F to G

This is part of a new series of blog posts on some handy little hints and tips. To begin with we will look at some altissimo trill tricks.

We know that altissimo notes can have slightly more awkward fingerings than the “conventional” range of the saxophone. Although some of the higher altissimo notes (e.g. A & D) are relatively easy, many people struggle over the first couple of notes: G and G#.

These two notes are also notorious for requiring different fingerings for alto, tenor etc. or even between different makes or models of the same size. And many of these are quite tricky fingerings

OK let’s cut to the chase, most people would think a top F to G altissimo trill is not that easy. This is true whether you use aux F or palm (SK3) F and whatever fingerings you might use for the G.

Finger top F with the “fake” aux

In another article we looked at how to do a “fake” aux top F fingering. This is useful in case you have a vintage instrument that was made without the top aux F. See diagram, and this is the fingering we will use to start the trill.

While fingering A you need to open the palm key with your 3rd (ring) finger. Note that this can, and possibly should, be done without the octave key.  This is because that palm key is acting as a vent (like the octave pip), not a normal open tone hole and so opening the octave can cause some acoustic misbehaviour. Or it might not, just try it and see. This note is actually an overtone, so if you are having trouble it may help to go back and do some overtone exercises.

So once you able to crack out that F nicely using this fingering, try this:

While still keeping your 3rd finger on the F palm key, play the G by merely lifting your second finger from the A key. You are now fingering B but with the palm key still, open and with any luck, sounding a G.

If you are having trouble making the G sound, it may be that you need to experiment with your embouchure. Try taking in slightly less mouthpiece. Alternatively you might find that some more work on overtones will help.

This fingering will allow very fast alternation between F and G, so you have now cracked the problem of  how to trill from top F to G!

Can I use this for an altissimo trill F to F#?

Indeed you can.

Play F# by either adding the RH Bb sidekey, or just use the Bb bis fingering (you would need to have your first finger already covering the bis key for this).

This will also be an easy trill, however it is possibly redundant because trilling from F to F# is normally easy using conventional fingering. This is true even if your saxophone is not equipped with a dedicated top F# key – just play top (aux) F and trill with the Bb RH side key.

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