Acoustics of the saxophone

Bb saxophone

D#4, F5, C#6 & E#6

Music Acoustics UNSW

Multiphonic 1 Multiphonic 2 Multiphonic 3
Multiphonic 4 Multiphonic 5 Multiphonic 6
Multiphonic 7 Multiphonic 8  


a key depressed
a key not depressed
a hole covered
a hole uncovered
a part of the mechanism that is not normally touched
Details in fingering legend.

Acoustic schematic
a closed tone hole
an open tone hole

Non-specialist introduction to acoustic impedance
Non-specialist introduction to saxophone acoustics

Notes are the written pitch.
Frequencies are the sounding frequency, for Bb saxophone.
Unless otherwise stated, the impedance spectrum is for a Bb saxophone.

Impedance spectrum of a Bb saxophone measured using fingering for the multiphonic D#4, F5, C#6 and E#6 .

Here, the D#4 may be considered as produced by a variant of the E4 fingering, with cross fingering to make it flatter. The F5 may be considered as a peculiar perturbation fingering for G5, with cross fingering and a poorly placed register key. It is difficult to explain the higher notes by such simplistic means: once we are at or above the cut-off frequency, the whole bore is involved.


Sound spectrum of a Bb saxophone played using fingering for the multiphonic D#4, F5, C#6 and E#6 .
For more explanation, see Introduction to saxophone acoustics

Sound Clip

You can hear the multiphonic D#4, F5, C#6 and E#6 played.

Fingering legend
How were these results obtained?

Contact: Joe Wolfe /
phone 61-2-9385-4954 (UT +10, +11 Oct-Mar)
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