Made-Up Bits

a personal blog, by Sven Seebeck -

A Complete Approach to Overtones - A Review

Recently I shared some thoughts about the saxophone sound and some of the materials that I use for my own practicing and teachings. Overtone exercises have been for years at the centre of my practice routines and I consider them crucial for my own (ongoing) development.

In that post I mentioned a rather new book that, even though being a rather recent acquisition of mine, had become my go-to-book for all things sound, embouchure and, naturally, overtone exercises: Ben Britton’s A Complete Approach to Sound

I was very surprised when Ben Britton contacted me the other day and offered to send me a review unit of his latest book A Complete Approach to Overtones - Vivid Sound and Extended Range. As I said before, overtones are the key to a great sound and a passion of mine and I was very interested into this book.

Suffice to say, I wasn’t disappointed and it turned out to be a great!

The book is well structured and well written (have a look at the Table of Contents here). The instructions are clear and stress the importance of a correct embouchure which ultimately is the goal of these exercises:

Your embouchure pressure should instead remain fairly even similar to normal saxophone playing. You might find you have the habit of tightening your embouchure for high notes generally. Proper overtone practice will help you fight this habit, and it will help you to easily execute notes in the upper register with a good sound.

The Exercises

Opposed to a few other books that I came across in the past, the exercises in this book actually make sense. Consisting mostly of scale- or chord-studies they help to hear the next note or the line more easily and thereby supporting correct and precise production of the overtones. The familiarity of the material also encourages to use or apply fragments of them in an improvised solo.

But have a look at some examples in this sample PDF yourself.

The book is full of exercises for players of all levels and comes (as the author’s first book) with downloadable sound examples. I am confident that it will find good use in my library and studies.

Even though Ben Britton send me a free PDF of the book I purchased a paper copy for myself. You can purchase a paper version of the book from Amazon or an Ebook in PDF format from here.

More info on Ben Britton’s website.

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