Fingering diagram builder

I wish I had discovered this great tool a couple of months ago,when I built the fingering charts for the normal and altissimo register.

The Fingering Diagram Builder,courtesy of Bret Pimentel,is an online tool that allows you to create a fingering chart for a variety of woodwinds,including saxophone,clarinet,flute,oboe,and recorder,plus the AKAI EWI 4000s and Yamaha WX5. You can select the key size and colors,and you can save the image to your computer or your Dropbox account.

The most serious limitation to date is the fingering diagram builder doesn’t support any version of Internet Explorer,even though it should work fine on most other browsers. For sure,it works great on FireFox.

You can learn more about the fingering diagram builder in these blog posts.

Twelve jazz albums to send to Mars

I have just finished reading “Incontri con musicisti straordinari –La storia del mio jazz”di Enrico Rava,maybe the first Italian musician who played with famous jazzmen in US and all over the world,such as Steve Lacy,Don Cherry,Joe Henderson,and Gato Barbieri.

I found the book very entertaining and informative,and it’s surely a recommended reading if you can read Italian. (BTW,its title could be translated as “Meeting extraordinary musicians –The history of my jazz”,in case the book is ever published in US.).

Among the many stories that Rava tells,he reports that many journalists have asked him about the 10 albums he would ship to Mars to let Martians know about jazz. The question is quite weird,IMHO,but the answer is interesting,even if he mentions a little more than just ten records.

1) Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven (1927) – Satchmo at his best,with the absolute masterpiece Potato Head Blues. According to Woody Allen,one of the reasons for which life is worth living. More info here,and this is the Amazon page for buying it.

2) I’m coming Virginia – by Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer (1927),a demonstration of how modern Bix’s sound and phrasing are. Can be found in this collection.

3) Duke Ellington and the Blanton-Webster Band – The orchestra with Ben Webster and Jimmy Blanton that was active between 1940 and 1942. According to Rava,Cotton Tail,Concerto for Cootie,Ko Ko,and Conga Brava are the real jewels of this band,and can be found in the Never No Lament – The Blanton-Webster Band remastered album.

4) Any album by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie – Rava doesn’t make any specific recommendation,but I’d suggest The Complete Savoy and Dial Master Takes,a 3-CD box that includes all Bird’s early studio recordings.

5) Billie Holliday with Teddy Wilson’s Orchestra and Lester Young (1939) – The most charming singer in jazz history,says the author. I don’t own this record and unfortunately Rava doesn’t provide more details about it. After a search on Amazon,I guess he means this album.

6) Birth of the Cool (1949-50) –by Miles Davis of course,with Gil Evans,Gerry Mulligan,John Lewis,Lee Konitz,and others. A break from bebop and the inspiration for all the West Coast jazz that followed.

7) Solo Monk – All Thelonious Monk’s records are compelling,thus picking just one is quite arbitrary.

8 ) Any recording by Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker – It’s easy to find re-edited versions of this music,so I selected the one that returned from an internet search,The Best of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker.

9) All albums by Miles Davis – Having to choose just one,Rava selects Porgy and Bess,with Gil Evans Orchestra.

10) Tijuana Moods – Charlie Mingus’ journey on this Mexico town near the border with the States.

11) Study in Brown – by Clifford Brown and Max Roach,but all records by Brown are a must-have for any trumpet player.

12) This Is Our Music – by Ornette Coleman,with Don Cherry,Charlie Haden,and Ed Blackwell. One of the best examples of the free jazz revolution.

It’s apparent that the fact that Rava is a trumpet player has affected his choices. Nevertheless,I found this list very interesting and I am going to grab the CDs I don’t have already.

I don’t listen to much pre-bebop jazz (shame on me!) thus my list would be quite different. Sooner or later I am going to publish it in this blog. By the way,what are your favorite albums?

Normal and altissimo fingering charts

I have published two new fingering charts:

Normal register fingering chart cover all notes from low Bb to high F# (Bb3-F#6),providing the standard fingering(s) and many alternate ones. Alternate fingerings can be very useful in trills,to play very fast phrases,or to add tonal variety to your playing.

Altissimo register fingering chart cover notes from high F# to very high B (F#6-B7) and includes the fingering that I have used and found to be playable with most of my instruments. Expect that some of such fingerings won’t work for you and be prepared to try different embrochure pressures and reed models/hardness.

You can quickly reach these charts from the top menu.


By any means these aren’t the only fingerings you can use for the altissimo register,and you can find a few more complete charts on the Internet,including:

The Woodwing Fingering Guide site is probably the most exhaustive charts for the regular and upper register.
Level 3 Solutions has fingerings for notes up to D8,with many fingerings that are specific for given sax models.
Insubrica Saxophone Society offers a chart in PDF with many variations for the alto sax.
WardBaxter chart goes up to C6,with many variations for each note.

Please Contact me if you use any fingering that isn’t reported in these charts.

Welcome to Saxopedia!

Unlike what its name may suggests,this is NOT a wiki about the saxophone. However I hope to post here as many information about this instrument as possible. Hopefully the site will evolve towards a real sax-clopedia,thanks to the contributions of many enthusiastic players like me. 

Just a few words about myself:I have been playing alto sax for over 30 years,and I recently doubled it with a straight and curved soprano,and with an EWI (Akai 4000s). While I spend a lot of time listening to,reading about,and practicing music,my daily job is about software development. I specialize in .NET Framework and Visual Basic programming,wrote seven books for Microsoft Press,which were translated to about one dozen languages,and maintain a website devote to modernizing legacy VB6 applications.

—Francesco