Extended Saxophone Techniques

The following books are a very good place for composers to find saxophone-specific information"


"Hello! Mr. Sax"
(Parameters of the Saxophone)

by Jean-Marie Londeix
The "saxophone bible" (has examples of notation, and extensive fingering charts for possible microtones, multiphonics, altissimo, etc.)

AL 27.489
Editions Musicales Alphonse Leduc
175 rue Saint-Honore
75040 Paris cedex 01

available in the USA from

Extended technique sheet music examples/with CD (I highly recommend this for every composer and performer):

L'Art Du Saxophone
by Daniel Kientzy
Nova Musica CD NMCD5101


And Daniel Kientzy's doctoral dissertation, Saxologie, demonstrating the tonal and extended possibilities of the saxophone family, is now available.

Both are available through Vandoren sheet music

Jay Easton's available saxes:

  • Bb Subcontrabass (an octave below bass, extended range to high C)
  • Eb Contrabass (one octave below baritone- but without the low A)
  • Bb bass(w/high F#)
  • Eb Baritone (w/ low A)
  • Bb Tenor
  • C Tenor
  • Eb Alto
  • F mezzo-soprano (same transposition as English Horn)
  • Bb Soprano
  • C soprano
  • Eb sopranino
  • Bb soprillo (piccolo sax- one octave above Bb soprano)

    Separate classical and jazz mouthpieces are available for saxophone- the classical sound is usually darker, warmer, and softer; the jazz sound tends to be edgier, brighter, buzzier, and louder. Unless specified, most saxophonists use a classical mouthpiece for concert music. Here is a comparison using two different mouthpieces on the same instrument:
    mp3 demo of tenor classical mouthpiece vs jazz mouthpiece

Extended techniques: It is always possible to invent techniques other than those included here. When in doubt, ask a saxophonist!

Without mouthpiece:

  • kiss sound
  • key pops (with neck open or closed)
  • tongue-ram (on open end of neck- can be double or triple tongued, fingering is still good)
  • palm-ram (on open end of neck- fingering only w/left hand)
    mp3 demo of palm-ram and tongue-ram
  • trumpet-sounds (not very good on sopranino) consult Londeix book for details
  • trumpet-sounds w/ voice
  • spetrofluctuation (trumpet-sound with wah-wah effect)
  • whistle into neck
  • use game call in place of mouthpiece (mule deer grunt--VERY low, crow call, duck quack, goose honk, baby cry), requires one hand to hold call on neck of horn, other hand can change fingerings
    mp3 demo of mule deer/mezzo-soprano sax
  • flutter tongue
  • double/triple tongue w/colored breath noise

Neck only: (not on sopranino or C soprano)

  • kiss sound
  • key pops (with neck open or closed)
  • tongue-ram (on open end of neck- can be double or triple tongued)
  • palm-ram
  • trumpet-sounds
  • trumpet-sounds w/ voice
  • spetrofluctuation (trumpet-sound with wah-wah effect)
  • whistle into neck
  • pitch slide w/ finger
  • flutter tongue
  • double/triple tongue w/ colored breath noise

Mouthpiece only:

  • siren
  • squawk
  • pitch slide w/ finger
  • slap tongue

Sopranino, sopranos, and mezzo-soprano only:

  • western-style flute tone (must remove reed .- very quiet, approx. pitch only)
  • kaval/ney middle-eastern-style flute tone
    (must remove mpc.- very quiet, approx. pitch only)
    mp3 demo of flute tone (soprano saxophone)
  • snake hiss

Baritone and bass only:

Bass and contrabass only:

Multiple saxes:

  • sopranino, soprano or mezzo-soprano can be played simultaneously with any of the other horns. Remember to allow me enough time to pick up and adjust both instruments.
  • I can play with one hand fingering each instrument, or hold an open C# (written) drone on one and use both hands on the other.
  • I usually play contrabass on a stand, so I can have tenor or smaller on a neckstrap ready to play almost instantly, but baritone and bass require at least 10 seconds to get them settled if I'm switching instruments. These can be played on a stand if quicker switches are necessary.

Live Electronics: Any horn can be put through reverb, distortion, pitch shift, harmonizer, Leslie speaker, wah-wah...

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All material Jay Easton 2001-2006 unless otherwise noted