Air notes

Blowing air through the instrument without deliberately sounding a pitch. Notated with a verbal instruction. Effective on the saxophone, and a wide range of articulations and dynamics may be used. Pitches may also be specified.
Air notes:

Key Clicks

Rattling instrument keys. Notated with x-shaped notehads and a verbal instruction. Works best on the baritone, but is effective on all the instruments.
Key clicks:

Multiphonics (played)

Playing chords. Fingering for the chord should be provided, either beside the note or in an appendix to the score. However, consult specialist manuals for detailed fingerings.
Chord notation:

Multiphonics (sung)

Growling, or singing into the instrument while playing, is a recognised substitute for fluttertonguing, but is also quite characteristic of certain kinds of raucous sax playing styles. Notate with a verbal instruction to "sing into the instrument" or "growl".



Intervals smaller than a semitone. Notations vary, but the examples above show a microtonal inflection and a quartertone. Produced by using 'fake' fingerings and/or adjusting the embouchure. Most quartertones are possible on the sax, but the player will need to prepare them in advance. N.B. there is no fingering for G quarter-sharp

G quarter-sharp:


Mutes are objects that are instered into the sax bell. They do exist, but are rarely used.

Slap Tongue

A violent release of the tongue, creating a 'slap' as the vacuum is opened. Highly efective on the baritone.
Slap tongue:

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]