Friday, March 16, 2012

The Best Long Tone / Overtone Exercise

Last week I was inspired to start a new overtone exercise. It's fairly simple and straight forward, and it's been the most productive overtone exercise I've ever used. In less than one week I've gained better control of my horn of both the altissimo register and the normal register. I'm now able to much more easily reach the 4th octave Bb and I can slide through the upper partials of the series with greater control. I should also warn you that I had some fairly sore stomach muscles during the first few days, however I did continue doing it each day.

The Exercise

Play each overtone of the Bb overtone series including the fundamental (low Bb). Start on low Bb, play it for a minute taking as many breaths as needed, and then move up to the next and play it for a minute, and continue onward all the way up to the highest partial you can manage. I spend about 15 minutes doing this each day, which lets you know by the time I get to the top I'm pretty worn out and I don't have a minute of 4th octave Bb in me.

Most importantly, I try to make each note sound pleasant, but I've also incorporated other aspects into my long overtones like bends and vibrato.

For those of you who are wondering what an overtone is you should read some of my post on altissimo. Below is an approximate chart of the four octaves of the Bb overtone series:


  1. Just to be clear, do you sustain each harmonic / note for a minute? o.O

    1. Definitely. It will be the most productive 15 minutes of your practice :)

    2. to be clear, I hold out the note for a minute, but taking as many breaths as needed.

  2. Hey Ben, thanks for this article. Can I post this on my forum and share with my members? Thanks