Notated with a verbal instruction, sometimes with a wavy line.
This is normally used as an exaggerated effect, and in saxophone playing has a historical connotation.
Vibrato speeds:



A slide in pitch between notes. Works best in the upper register. Avoid in the lower register. The key pads make half-holing difficult or impossible.
Low register
Upper register



Produced by fingering a fundamental low note, then picking out the partials. There is no need to notate harmonics on the sax, since they are integral to the instrument, forming the super-high register.
Harmonic register:


Tremolo or "Shake"

Tremolos on saxophone
A trill between two notes more than a tone apart. Check fingerings carefully!
About shakes:



Trills on saxophone
A rapid alternation between two pitches. The notation above, read in treble clef, shows a minor trill followed by a major trill, indicated by accidentals over the note. If these are not given, players will choose trill type based on musical context. The wavy lines indicating duration of trill are also optional. All trills are possible on the saxophone, but those above A6 are very difficult because of complicated fingerings.

Timbral trills

A rapid alternation between different fingerings of the same pitch. Notated like a trill, but with the word 'timbral'. Relies on having substitute fingerings available.
Timbral trills:
More timbral trills:


A very quiet sound. Notate with a verbal instruction: echo tone, subtone, mezzo voce or sotto voce. An extreme pianissimo will be drowned out by other sounds. Subtone is very effective on the sax, and is under-used in classical music.
Writing subtones:
How a subtone sounds:

The Orchestra: A User's Manual is a free resource and will remain so. It still receives between 8,000 and 16,000 unique visits per month from all over the world. See the testimonials. Thanks to all the donations, I have been able to create this responsive re-design. But the movies and sound clips recorded in 2004 do show their age. I would really like to re-record everything and add many more techniques, especially for solo and ensemble writing. I estimate this will cost around £30,000. If you know a source of such funds, please contact me: a.hugill [at]