Sam Newsome

Sam Newsome
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy

Downtown Music Gallery (Solo Concert)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sound Calisthenics (Corrected version)

One of the keys to gaining control, flexibility, and endurance on the soprano is to spend a great deal of time with overtone studies. The best book for this is Top Tones for the Saxophone: Four-Octave Range, by Sigurd Rascher. There may be others out there, but I'm not aware them.

This exercise is called "Overtone Repititions." I like the idea of playing overtones repititously because you're approaching it as a calisthenic workout. You can't tell from looking at me now, but I actually used to be an exercise fanatic, which will be the topic of discussion in a later blog!

When playing this exercise you'll notice that it sounds similar to a brass player doing lip slurs. Well, it's the same idea. The difference being that with the saxophone the reed is vibrating, instead of your lips.

If you can't play this exercise in it's entirely, that's OK. Just do what you can. When doing push ups, just lifting yourself halfway up is still producing results, provided that your form is correct. Just remember that's it's not a composition intended for performance, it's an etude to help you build strength.

Have fun. And don't forget to hit the shower afterwards!


  1. Good advice! Rousseau's Saxophone High Tones is another book with excellent and extensive overtone exercises, with the added bonus of great altissimo fingering charts for modern horns (separate charts for soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone).

  2. Thanks, Bret! I'll check it out. I'm always looking for different ways to practice them.

  3. Should the 4th overtone be in there? (i.e. the D when fingering low Bb) Or is it part of the exercise (as in some of Rascher's) to miss it? Cheers

  4. Hi AG,
    Nice catch! Not sure how I missed it. But yes, there should be a 4th overtone. I've included it in the corrected version.

    - S


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