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 learn and master the techniques shown below before studying the quarter tone technique.

Technical Fluency

The quarter tone technique provides a total of 26 new notes, each with multiple possible fingerings. Many of these fingerings require different, and seemingly strange, combinations of open and closed tone holes. Any saxophonist seeking to learn this technique should first build his/her technical capability.

Reading and Sight Reading

Quarter tone nomenclature introduces new accidentals that must be memorized during practice and recognized instantly during performance. It will provide more challenge to a type of music which is already difficult to master. Therefore, it is important that any saxophonist studying this technique build his/her reading and sight reading abilities.

Overtone Series and Production

Many of the quarter tone fingerings in this book produce quarter tones via overtone production. In addition, almost all quarter tone fingerings require the precision and control which is learned from the study of overtone production. Any saxophonist seeking to learn this technique must master the overtone technique.


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 is fluent in this technique will have an easier time studying the quarter tone technique.

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