(Italian for "extremely high") In saxophone technique, altissimo refers the playable notes on the instrument that are above the saxophone's standard range (usually high F or F#, depending on the instrument). When Adolph Sax invented the saxophone, its range was thought to be about 2 1/2 octaves. However, during the 1930s, Sigurd M. Rascher (generally regarded as the father of modern saxophone technique) was able to expand the instrument's range to four octaves by experimenting with fingering and embouchure techniques (as the story goes, these developments took place after Rascher was chided by a clarinet player over the saxophone's smaller range). Altissimo require precise embouchure and are difficult to keep in tune; as a result of this they are generally employed only in relatively advanced saxophone technique.

Al*tis"si*mo (#), n. [It.; superl. of alto.] Mus.

The part or notes situated above F in alt.


© Webster 1913.

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