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  1. #1
    Distinguished SOTW Member Captain Beeflat's Avatar
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    Default Is the F# trill key necessary?

    Does anyone really need this key?
    Without doubt, someone will insist that it is imperative for playing Tchaikovsky's concerto for mandolin & jaws harp in the mixolydian mode of A# minor...but I would suggest that most of us never use it.
    Surely it would reduce cost, weight, & potential leaks if it were omitted from standard horns.
    Could it not be supplied as an optional extra...such as high F# (another dubious key), should anyone really need it.
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  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    Some cheaper horns did without it and some expensive baritones left it out in their design too (Martin Baritones don’t seem to have one)

    I , mostly a self taught saxophonist, don’t use it but I hear that other folks find it useful in some chromatic passages ( I had to learn to use the front Bb-Bis key since I used for a long time almost exclusively the side Bis-Bb) . So it is very possible that some players find it essential, to me it is nice to check the intonation of my saxophone (which is the only one instance when I use it)

  3. #3

    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    I use it all the time when moving between F and F#. I'm big on alternate fingerings and try never to alternate between the index and middle fingers of either hand. I could get by without it. For that matter, I could get by without the bis key and the side C key but my technique is a whole lot more fluid with those keys than it would be without them.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Foster View Post
    I use it all the time when moving between F and F#. I'm big on alternate fingerings and try never to alternate between the index and middle fingers of either hand. I could get by without it. For that matter, I could get by without the bis key and the side C key but my technique is a whole lot more fluid with those keys than it would be without them.
    The dude is right. In fact I've never heard this key called a trill key and never thought of it as such. It facilitates moves from F to F# and vice versa in various keys and chromatic passages. More important: try playing a fast F-F#-F triplet w/o it. If you do, I'd like to know how. I find it if not indispensable at least very handy. Even the right-hand "G# trill key" on my Conn, though more aptly named, has more function than trilling. I can bring fork high E & F into better tune with it quite easily, even on some pretty fluid passages. Likewise the fork right-hand D# trill on Conns: This key has made nearly impossible transitions from, say, Eb to low B to low C and back, easily playable, and I've come across passages like that often in various arrangements, not just on obscure archaic rarely played pieces. Granted, with a more ergonomic left-hand table key setup some of those passages might be more playable without the fork D# trill, but even then I think I've got newer horns beat with this setup.
    BTW, in the left hand I sometimes go from bis Bb to C & vice versa, and sometimes use the side Bb; it all depends on the context and what flows after studying the mechanics of the passage at speed. I even slur from B to bis Bb on occasion, which I think some might consider a no-no (rules are made to be broken).
    My two hundredths of a semitone worth...

  5. #5
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    I also couldn't do without it. I don't think of it as purely for trills.

  6. #6
    Swaman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    I've been playing Sigurd Rascher's 154 Saxophone Exercises and he encourages the use of the bis key as a way of covering all options. Also holding down right finger notes to play certain arpeggios. The only time I use the right F# is when the music is written but never improvising. I have too many other things to think about.
    Also I don't really like the high F# key which makes playing scalar altissimo passages more difficult. But I guess we should get used to using them all.

  7. #7
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009 jicaino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    I could live without it. Never, and I mean NEVER use it (nor have used it) on the saxophone.
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  8. #8
    Distinguished SOTW Member Fader's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    I also couldn't do without it. I don't think of it as purely for trills.
    +1. There are some passages you simply have to have it for. I don't use it a lot but I use it every gig...

    I used to avoid it (and the side C) because you can always just play something else that sounds good, but when I got serious about playing, (and occasionally when working with a horn section) I found I had to put it's use in my bag of tricks. I'm glad I did. It made me a little better I think.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    I'm in the "don't use it a lot but still need it" boat. It's especially helpful for C blues (i.e. concert Bb on tenor and concert Eb on alto). Being able to bend in and out of the blue note is very important, and this alone makes the key worth it for me.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Meatballfoot View Post
    I'm in the "don't use it a lot but still need it" boat. It's especially helpful for C blues (i.e. concert Bb on tenor and concert Eb on alto). Being able to bend in and out of the blue note is very important, and this alone makes the key worth it for me.
    I am in this boat also. I might be able to live without it but I am so used to having it there when I want it, so it is hard to really say. I can think of quick passages of say going from d# to f to f# and back etc. where I am used to just using it. I just feel it comes in handy and yes it is not only for trills.

  11. #11
    Distinguished SOTW Member Captain Beeflat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by jicaino View Post
    I could live without it. Never, and I mean NEVER use it (nor have used it) on the saxophone.
    Neither have I jicaino.....in fact, I have never met a sax player who does use it, hence my initial question.
    If everything is coming your way, you are probably in the wrong lane.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    If it were actually conveniently located (inline, like on clarinet), I would use it more.
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  13. #13
    Distinguished SOTW Member Fader's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Beeflat View Post
    Neither have I jicaino.....in fact, I have never met a sax player who does use it, hence my initial question.

    Is this a question you actually ask the other sax players you meet? Otherwise - how do ya know? I'm guessing that most players who use it, do so for similar reasons as I do - which means we're probably going way to fast for you to actually see us use it when we do....


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Foster View Post
    I use it all the time when moving between F and F#. I'm big on alternate fingerings and try never to alternate between the index and middle fingers of either hand. I could get by without it. For that matter, I could get by without the bis key and the side C key but my technique is a whole lot more fluid with those keys than it would be without them.
    Jeff has nailed it. The cleanest way to get from F to F# is with the F# key (same with side C). I teach this to my middle school kids right from the beginning and the get a way cleaner sound then trying to flip back and forth from index to middle finger.
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  15. #15
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Beeflat View Post
    Neither have I jicaino.....in fact, I have never met a sax player who does use it, hence my initial question.
    they hide in the mazes of SOTW, obviously!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by smonkman View Post
    I teach this to my middle school kids right from the beginning and the get a way cleaner sound then trying to flip back and forth from index to middle finger.
    You should introduce these middle schoolers to the OP.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by smonkman View Post
    get a way cleaner sound then trying to flip back and forth from index to middle finger.
    Tell that to every trumpet player on the planet.

  18. #18
    Distinguished SOTW Member Captain Beeflat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry D View Post
    Tell that to every trumpet player on the planet.
    Exactly...or a pianist.....it depends upon how you learn, your teacher and your dexterity.
    Many, including myself, are far faster & cleaner with RH 1&2.
    If everything is coming your way, you are probably in the wrong lane.

  19. #19
    SOTW Administrator hakukani's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    I use the F# key more often than the side C key. I defy anyone to do a quicker, cleaner, triplet or trill f to F# without it.
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Is the F# trill key necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by smonkman View Post
    Jeff has nailed it. The cleanest way to get from F to F# is with the F# key (same with side C). I teach this to my middle school kids right from the beginning and the get a way cleaner sound then trying to flip back and forth from index to middle finger.
    I was taught to use it early on, so it's hard to imagine living without it. Like Milandro, I also never used the bis for a very long time, but once I learned it I came to prefer it to side Bb or the other Bb fingerings (but I still use these too, when appropriate). Once I started playing horns with the high F#, I started using that as well. I think you should take advantage of whatever keys the instrument offers.

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