Altissimo Fingerings for Tenor Saxophone

Posted by on Sep 27, 2011 | 4 Comments

I’ve been interested in the altissimo register since high school when I first heard Tower of Power recordings featuring Lenny Pickett. There are so many sources of information out there for people who want to learn to play altissimo (see below for a few useful links). In this post, I want to share the set of fingerings that I’ve found most useful in my own tenor playing. I favor fingerings that work well together to facilitate melodic lines. Some of these aren’t the best available options in terms of intonation or tone, but sometimes the better sounding fingering is a bit awkward within a passage. Given this philosophy, here are the altissimo fingerings I use. Try them out in a melodic context so you can see how they flow together.

Also, if you are new to altissimo, please learn the fundamentals of overtone production first before jumping into fingering charts. You shouldn’t have to bite or strain to do any of this. Sigurd Raschèr’s book is where I started.

Altissimo Fingering Chart

  • It’s a little unclear, but the palm keys indicated in the charts, from left to right, are D, Eb, and F.
  • Notation is as written for saxophone.
  • Note names are in reference to saxophone range (ie. F3 is the third F from the lowest available note).

F3

F3 fingering
F3 notation

This note sounds a little dodgy, but in passing this a nice alternate fingering to the standard palm high F and front F fingerings. Works well chromatically through G#3.


F#3

F#3 fingering
F#3 notation

A nice alternate to front F. Easy transition between alternate G3 below.


G3

G3 fingeringG3 alt fingering
G3 notation

I usually use front F, but the alternate fingering facilitates some passages.


G#3

G#3 fingering
G#3 notation

 


A3

G3 fingeringA3 alt fingering
A3 notation

In passing, I just play left hand 2 and 3 (A and G keys). Adding the pinky G# key raises the pitch and adds pop. You might like to add right hand 123 (F, E, and D keys) instead.

SOURCES: Sigurd M. Raschèr. Alternate, Lenny Pickett.


A#4

A#4 fingering
A#4 notation

 


B4

B4 fingering
B4 notation

 


C4

C4 fingering
C4 notation

Left hand 3 (G key) is optional here, but I find that it adds pop, and it often minimizes finger motion in lines.


C#4

C#4 fingering
C#4 notation

As with C4, left hand 3 is optional.


D4

D4 fingeringD4 alternate fingering
D4 notation

I mostly use the front F. The alternate fingering pops a little better, and flows in sequence with A#4 through C#4. However, using front F resets your hand position nicely to get at D#4.

SOURCE: Alternate, Lenny Pickett.


D#4

D#4 fingering
D#4 notation

D#4 through F#4 are simply A#4 through C#4 repeated, overblown by a fourth.


E4

E4 fingering
E4 notation

D#4 through F#4 are simply A#4 through C#4 repeated, overblown by a fourth.


F4

F4 fingering
F4 notation

D#4 through F#4 are simply A#4 through C#4 repeated, overblown by a fourth.


F#4

F#4 fingering
F#4 notation

D#4 through F#4 are simply A#4 through C#4 repeated, overblown by a fourth.


G4

G4 fingering
G4 notation

For me, this is the highest note to easily pop out.

SOURCE: Sigurd M. Raschèr.


G#4

G#4 fingering
G#4 notation

I find this fingering to be a little muted.

SOURCE: Lenny Pickett.


A4

A4 fingering
A4 notation

 

SOURCE: Sigurd M. Raschèr.


A#5

A#5 fingering
A#5 notation

Try arpeggiating up to these at first.

SOURCE: Norbert Stachel


B5

B5 fingering
B5 notation

Try arpeggiating up to these at first.

SOURCE: Norbert Stachel


C5

C5 fingering
C5 notation

Try arpeggiating up to these at first.

SOURCE: Norbert Stachel


C#5

None

C#5 notation

I haven’t worked out a decent way to get at this note yet. If you have any suggestions, please share!


D5

D5 fingering
D5 notation

This is a harmonic of low Bb flat that just wants to come out.


Sources & Resources

I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions!

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4 Comments

  1. mehdimasoumiyeganeh
    April 19, 2012

    i want fingerings for tenor saxophon
    thank you

  2. Kevin Danenberg
    April 19, 2012

    This site has a good fingering chart for the normal range of the saxophone.

  3. Eucarlos Martins
    May 12, 2013

    Kevin, thanks for sharing your tenor sax experience. All fingering works properly and in tune.
    Regards,
    Eucarlos (Brazil)

  4. keenon
    June 14, 2013

    i am 12 and i want to be a good tenor player i think i am decent but i cant hit the altissmo notes should i use a bigger size reed i use size2

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