Quarter Tone Saxophone

Suggested Prerequisites

The quarter tone technique is a very difficult technique to master. It is recommended that any saxophonist interested in learning this technique be fluent in the following areas before attempting this technique.

Technical Fluency

The quarter tone technique requires the practitioner to learn 26 new notes. Many of these notes may require the practitioner to learn multiple fingerings. Therefore, the practitioner should have technical fluency, in terms of scales and arpeggios.

Reading and Sight Reading

The practitioner will need to learn the new nomenclature to read quarter tone notation. Therefore, he/she should be able to fluently read and sight-read music before beginning the technique.

Overtone Series and Production

Many of the quarter tone fingerings in this book produce quarter tones via overtone production. This means the pitch in question is not actually the fundamental pitch produced by the fingering, but is one of the overtones in the overtone series that can be played, as described below.

Every fingering on the saxophone can actually produce more than one note. Each can produce the intended note, or fundamental pitch, as well as a pitch an octave higher, an octave and a fifth higher, etc. Learning to produce these overtones will help any saxophonist gain control over his/her instrument and develope a good tone.

There are many technique books which deal exclusively with overtone production.


The altissimo register of the saxophone is the note region above high F. All altissimo notes are produced through playing overtones. Similar to the quarter tone technique, there are many fingerings for each altissimo note which have been discovered to aid in the production of those notes. This technique also helps the saxophonist gain control of the instrument. This technique itself is not used in the quarter tone technique, but any saxophonist who has learned this technique will find it much easier to learn the quarter tone technique.

Quarter Tone Saxophone
Quarter Tone Technique for Saxophone