How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

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    Default How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    I read that older saxophone had two octave keys instead of one.

    Why was that configuration phased out?

    Independent octave keys allow harmonics that aren't possible with just one octave key, which is precisely the reason the configuration persists on oboe, even though the full automatic octave mechanism is also available on some models.

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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleReed View Post
    I read that older saxophone had two octave keys instead of one.

    Why was that configuration phased out?

    Independent octave keys allow harmonics that aren't possible with just one octave key, which is precisely the reason the configuration persists on oboe, even though the full automatic octave mechanism is also available on some models.
    Perhaps you phrased this wrongly, all saxophones have two octave keys and some have even three the octave key on saxophone is simply automatized the automatic mechanism takes over.

    the Selmer Series III alto (and tenor too on special order) has the option for a manual third octave key which would supposedly helpt with altissimo.

    Given the incredibly low sales of these configuration we have to conclude that almost no one uses, but you are welcome to buy one if that is what you like.
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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleReed View Post
    I read that older saxophone had two octave keys instead of one.

    Why was that configuration phased out?

    Independent octave keys allow harmonics that aren't possible with just one octave key, which is precisely the reason the configuration persists on oboe, even though the full automatic octave mechanism is also available on some models.
    Very interesting question! I have three partial answers.

    In the early stage of saxophone playing, people didn't use altissimo. More precisely (because what I've just written is a caricature) it is said that Adolphe Sax himself had developped a series of altissimo fingerings but Sax's class in the conservatory got closed and the transmission was interrupted. Some altissimo fingerings were possibly known to some happy few but the person who really rediscovered the altissimo register of the saxophone was Sigurd Rascher in the 20's-30's (after the almost universal adoption of the automatic octave key in the beginning of the XX-th century).

    It is quite possible that the automatic octave key robs us from some of the best altissimo fingerings. However, it is still possible to play altissmo fluently with the automatic octave key (I don't know the situation for a oboe: is it possible to have such a fluency on the models with an automatic octave key ?). On a saxophone, I'm not even aware of the altissimo fingerings that would be allowed by a model with independant octave keys.

    I've not much experience with playing saxophones with double octave keys (a short try on a soprano and years later a short try on a baritone) but from what I remember the switch is ergonomically awkward on a curved instrument (on the straight soprano I only have a very vague memory but it seems the switch was less awkward).

    Edit: I'm not completely sure with my third answer. If you also play bassoon, is the switch awkward on a bassoon ? -I guess the bassoon has independant octave keys...

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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    maybe you want to get in touch with this member

    https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showth...=1#post2949026
    Life is just a bowl... some have cherries in it, some don’t. Those who have the cherries aren’t likely to share them though.

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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleReed View Post
    I read that older saxophone had two octave keys instead of one.

    Why was that configuration phased out?

    Independent octave keys allow harmonics that aren't possible with just one octave key, which is precisely the reason the configuration persists on oboe, even though the full automatic octave mechanism is also available on some models.
    I can see why that persists on the oboe, and if indeed there are advantages on the saxophone in regard to altissimo fingerings, then it would have made sense for a mechanism that allowed the player to use either.

    I believe this would be possible: a saxophone with two octave levers (one for each) but with a switchable linking mechanism that could be disabled if the player wanted to use both.

    When engaged only one octave key touch was operational and worked both keys automatically as is conventional these days, but when disengaged it would work in the old fashioned way, two independent octave levers.

    What I'd be interested to know is the source that shows that independent octave keys allow harmonics that aren't possible with just one octave key. Is there an 1849 altissimo chart? Yes, received wisdom (and maybe verifiable sources) has it that Adolph himself did use an altissimo range, but is this just a myth or is there some evidence?
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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    I can see why that persists on the oboe, and if indeed there are advantages on the saxophone in regard to altissimo fingerings, then it would have made sense for a mechanism that allowed the player to use either.

    I believe this would be possible: a saxophone with two octave levers (one for each) but with a switchable linking mechanism that could be disabled if the player wanted to use both.

    When engaged only one octave key touch was operational and worked both keys automatically as is conventional these days, but when disengaged it would work in the old fashioned way, two independent octave levers.

    What I'd be interested to know is the source that shows that independent octave keys allow harmonics that aren't possible with just one octave key. Is there an 1849 altissimo chart? Yes, received wisdom (and maybe verifiable sources) has it that Adolph himself did use an altissimo range, but is this just a myth or is there some evidence?
    I think Sigurd Rascher claimed that Adolphe Sax mastered altissimo -I don't know the evidence for this claim.
    If on a oboe (an instrument with basically the same acoustic formula) some altissimo fingerings are only possible with the double octave keys, we can naturally assume that the same situation could occur on the saxophone. However, 99,9% (or is it 99,999999% ?) of us work primarily on a model with an automatic octave key and those fingerings are not common knowledge (or, they may be completely unknown and only exist in a sky of Platonician Ideas?).

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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alain Gen View Post
    I think Sigurd Rascher claimed that Adolphe Sax mastered altissimo -I don't know the evidence for this claim.
    This sounds likely, maybe one day some musicologist will do some search and uncover the truth. This is the kind of research my wife does, but in regard to vocalists. i.e. she researches archives and discovers evidence of how sixteenth century vocal performances aren't necessarily the way we tend to think they are.


    Quote Originally Posted by Alain Gen View Post
    If on a oboe (an instrument with basically the same acoustic formula) some altissimo fingerings are only possible with the double octave keys, we can naturally assume that the same situation could occur on the saxophone. However, 99,9% (or is it 99,999999% ?) of us work primarily on a model with an automatic octave key and those fingerings are not common knowledge (or, are they completely unknown ?).
    Makes sense of course. I tend to just slam the octave key on for all altissimo. However I do tend to think the oboe allows less embouchure manipulation so needs more help from different venting holes than does the saxophone. e.g. if an altissimo note is a bit difficult, we can approach it with an embouchure range.

    I may be well wrong about that, I only think that with oboe it's more difficult because the embouchure is that much "smaller."
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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    I have found a reference where Sigurd Rascher makes the claim that Sax obtained a range of 3 octaves:
    S. Rascher, Top tones for the saxophone: four octave range, 3rd edition, p. 5.
    A partial indication for this claim is that in Demersemann "Fantaisie sur un thème original" a high F# appears on bar 50 (see the thesis of Abraham de Villiers, The development of the saxophone 1850-1950: its influence on performance and the calssical repertory, Pretoria University).

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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alain Gen View Post
    I have found a reference where Sigurd Rascher makes the claim that Sax obtained a range of 3 octaves:
    S. Rascher, Top tones for the saxophone: four octave range, 3rd edition, p. 5.
    A partial indication for this claim is that in Demersemann "Fantaisie sur un thème original" a high F# appears on bar 50 (see the thesis of Abraham de Villiers, The development of the saxophone 1850-1950: its influence on performance and the calssical repertory, Pretoria University).
    Thanks for finding that, and you would expect that irrespective of what Sax said or published, virtuosos would be exploring the possibilities of extending the range. But it's surprising in either that case, or if Sax himself said so, that there is only that one example of just one (low) altissimo note in the repertoire.

    There were no doubt many virtuoso saxophone plays although (probably clarinettists doubling), who would no doubt be in touch with the manufacturers and if they relied on the indecent octave levers, you'd think they'd kick up a stink when someone goes and "improves" it for the less virtuosic masses.

    But I also noticed this somewhat contradictory statement in the thesis:

    For instance, this would be the way that the saxophone was perceived by Berlioz before jazz and the altissimo register were explored and the saxophone did not yet possess the volume or flexibility of later eras.

    Hmmm, seems to say no exploration of altissimo until jazz.
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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    Thanks for finding that, and you would expect that irrespective of what Sax said or published, virtuosos would be exploring the possibilities of extending the range. But it's surprising in either that case, or if Sax himself said so, that there is only that one example of just one (low) altissimo note in the repertoire.

    There were no doubt many virtuoso saxophone plays although (probably clarinettists doubling), who would no doubt be in touch with the manufacturers and if they relied on the indecent octave levers, you'd think they'd kick up a stink when someone goes and "improves" it for the less virtuosic masses.

    But I also noticed this somewhat contradictory statement in the thesis:

    For instance, this would be the way that the saxophone was perceived by Berlioz before jazz and the altissimo register were explored and the saxophone did not yet possess the volume or flexibility of later eras.

    Hmmm, seems to say no exploration of altissimo until jazz.
    According to de Villiers, there were very few vituoso of the saxophone at the time (he gives a list of four names).
    De Villiers seems to be a little bit embarassed with the claim of S. Rascher which he can not dismiss, but can lso not really support (apart from this high F# in Demersemann's Fantaisie)

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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alain Gen View Post
    According to de Villiers, there were very few vituoso of the saxophone at the time (he gives a list of four names).
    De Villiers seems to be a little bit embarassed with the claim of S. Rascher which he can not dismiss, but can lso not really support (apart from this high F# in Demersemann's Fantaisie)
    So we could speculate that the only source we have of that Sax actually had altissimo sorted out, was Rascher, and that maybe it is more of a myth than reality. Until we find a more verifiable source perhaps that F# is the one and only altissimo note prior to Colman Hawkins's G in Body & Soul. (Or were there others?) Then of course Earl Bostic took it into orbit.

    EDIT: no, my Eby's (1922) has fingering up to second high C.

    I have always believed about Sax's altissimo, but then maybe it really is a myth.
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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    What is Eby's?
    Also, it could be interesting to investigate Rudy Widoeft's repertoire, because he did a lot of experimentation with our instrument.

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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alain Gen View Post
    What is Eby's?
    Eby's Scientific Saxophone Method, which I have a couple of copies of. (Walter Eby 1922)
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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Perhaps I should clarify my query:

    On oboe and saxophone, the C two octaves above the Middle C is obtained as the second harmonic of the C an octave below.

    On an oboe with two octave keys, that C can also be obtained as the third harmonic of the F a 12th below. I suppose that was the case also for saxophone with two octave keys.

    On modern saxophones and on automatic-octave oboes, the high C cannot be obtained as the third harmonic of the F a 12th below.

    Similarly for the B, Bb and A below that high C, they can no longer be obtained as third harmonics if the automatic octave mechanism is in place.

    Apparently these losses were enough to convince the majority of oboists that automatic octave mechanism should be rejected. Somehow that wasn't the case with saxophone/saxophonists. What was that?

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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by milandro View Post
    Perhaps you phrased this wrongly, all saxophones have two octave keys and some have even three the octave key on saxophone is simply automatized the automatic mechanism takes over.

    the Selmer Series III alto (and tenor too on special order) has the option for a manual third octave key which would supposedly helpt with altissimo.

    Given the incredibly low sales of these configuration we have to conclude that almost no one uses, but you are welcome to buy one if that is what you like.
    All saxophones have two octave vents. Modern saxophones have only one octave key while the very old one had two.

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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alain Gen View Post
    Very interesting question! I have three partial answers.

    In the early stage of saxophone playing, people didn't use altissimo. More precisely (because what I've just written is a caricature) it is said that Adolphe Sax himself had developped a series of altissimo fingerings but Sax's class in the conservatory got closed and the transmission was interrupted. Some altissimo fingerings were possibly known to some happy few but the person who really rediscovered the altissimo register of the saxophone was Sigurd Rascher in the 20's-30's (after the almost universal adoption of the automatic octave key in the beginning of the XX-th century).

    It is quite possible that the automatic octave key robs us from some of the best altissimo fingerings. However, it is still possible to play altissmo fluently with the automatic octave key (I don't know the situation for a oboe: is it possible to have such a fluency on the models with an automatic octave key ?). On a saxophone, I'm not even aware of the altissimo fingerings that would be allowed by a model with independant octave keys.

    I've not much experience with playing saxophones with double octave keys (a short try on a soprano and years later a short try on a baritone) but from what I remember the switch is ergonomically awkward on a curved instrument (on the straight soprano I only have a very vague memory but it seems the switch was less awkward).

    Edit: I'm not completely sure with my third answer. If you also play bassoon, is the switch awkward on a bassoon ? -I guess the bassoon has independant octave keys...
    Yes bassoon indeed had independent octave keys.

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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleReed View Post

    On modern saxophones and on automatic-octave oboes, the high C cannot be obtained as the third harmonic of the F a 12th below.
    It can, but I have to ask, why would anyone want to?
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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    It can, but I have to ask, why would anyone want to?
    For a different and contrasting tone colour.

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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleReed View Post
    Perhaps I should clarify my query:

    On oboe and saxophone, the C two octaves above the middle C is obtained as the second harmonic of the C an octave below.

    On an oboe with two octave keys, that C can also be obtained as the third harmonic of the F a 12th below. I suppose that was the case also for saxophone with two octave keys.

    On modern saxophones and on automatic-octave oboes, the high C cannot be obtained as the third harmonic of the F a 12th below.

    Similarly for the B, Bb and A below that high C, they can no longer be obtained as third harmonics if the automatic octave mechanism is in place.

    Apparently these losses were enough to convince the majority of oboists that automatic octave mechanism should be rejected. Somehow that wasn't the case with saxophone/saxophonists. What was that?
    I guess you meant one octave above middle C.
    It would already be very interesting to know wether the early saxophonists sometimes played high A-C as a 12th of low D-F.

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    Default Re: How was the two-octave-key configuration phased out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alain Gen View Post
    I guess you meant one octave above middle C.
    It would already be very interesting to know wether the early saxophonists sometimes played high A-C as a 12th of low D-F.
    Sorry I should have said Middle C, which is the bottom C on oboe and saxophones.

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